Brighton & Hove Albion welcome West Ham United to the Amex Stadium on Friday evening, and Chris Hughton’s team will be looking to record their second home win in front of the Sky Sports cameras, kick-off 8pm.
The Seagulls head into the match on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City - but with four of Albion’s opening seven games having been against teams that finished in last season’s top six, fixtures look more welcoming over the coming months.
Albion occupy 15th position in the Premier League table, two points and one place behind the Hammers, who have recorded two victories in their opening seven matches.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team are four matches unbeaten across all competitions, most recently securing an impressive 3-1 win over Manchester United, who Albion also beat on home soil.
The match provides a final chance to secure points before the second international break of the season, with Albion returning to action against Newcastle United on Saturday 20th October.
Hughton confirmed Pascal Gross remains sidelined ahead of Friday’s game, however Dale Stephens is close to returning from injury and a decision will be made on the midfielder’s availability. Otherwise, there are no other injuries in Albion's squad.
The Hammers will be without a handful of players for their Amex visit — Winston Reid, Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll and Jack Wilshere all remain sidelined and on the road to recovery.
The Seagulls produced a hard-working display at the Etihad Stadium last weekend, but were unable to cause an upset against the Premier League champions, as goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero gave Manchester City a 2-0 victory.
Albion had previously tasted their first home defeat of the season in the Premier League, with Anthony Knockaert’s stoppage-time effort halving the deficit against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-1 loss.
But Hughton’s men were able to come back from 2-0 down on consecutive occasions against Fulham and Southampton, as the Seagulls showed great character to rescue two points to add to their memorable win against Manchester United.
The Hammers opened the campaign with four successive defeats in the Premier League, but the east London club have since reacted with four unbeaten games, which has included some eye-catching results.
Everton were on the receiving end of a 3-1 beating at Goodison Park when Pellegrini’s team visited last month, before Chelsea were held to a goalless draw at the London Stadium.
West Ham recorded an emphatic 8-0 victory over Macclesfield Town in the Carabao Cup and then polished off the week with a 3-1 win against Manchester United, which has mounted the pressure on Jose Mourinho.
LAST TIME WE MET:
Albion completed a Premier League double over the Hammers when they visited the Amex in February, and the game included a stunning strike from Jose Izquierdo which went on to win the club’s Goal of the Season award.
Glenn Murray opened the scoring on the south coast when he latched onto Gross’s through-ball and fired past Adrian to give the Seagulls an eighth-minute lead.
Javier Hernandez responded for the visitors on the half-hour mark, but 14 minutes after the break came the game’s turning point, and it was Izquierdo’s outstanding effort that sent the Amex crowd into raptures.
The Colombian curled the ball into the top corner from 25 yards to put Albion 2-1 ahead, and Gross managed to get his name on the scoresheet in the 75th minute to round off the scoring and secure maximum points.
LAST TIME OUT: ALBION
MANCHESTER CITY 2
Albion line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert (Jahanbakhsh 78), Kayal, Propper, March (Izquierdo 83); Bissouma; Locadia (Murray 73).
Subs not used: Button (GK), Bruno, Balogun, Bernardo.
LAST TIME OUT: WEST HAM UNITED
WEST HAM UNITED 3
Lindelof 43 og
MANCHESTER UNITED 1
West Ham United line-up: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku; Rice; Yarmolenko (Snodgrass 72), Noble, Obiang, Anderson (Diangana 90+3); Arnautovic (Antonio 83).
Subs not used: Adrian (GK); Fredericks, Ogbonna, Perez.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Marko Arnautovic
The Austrian hit double figures (11) for the Hammers in the Premier League last season, and is already well on his way to reaching or surpassing that same figure this season.
The attacker, who has also captained the side, has fired four goals in his opening six matches, including the third goal in his team’s most recent win against the Red Devils.
Arnautovic looks to be playing a more advanced role under Pellegrini, and Albion’s defence will need to be on top of their game to keep the 29-year-old at bay.
His other strikes have come up against AFC Bournemouth, Arsenal and Everton, whilst also providing an assist for his team in their away victory against the Toffees.