Brighton & Hove Albion welcome AFC Bournemouth to the Amex Stadium on Saturday afternoon, kick-off 3pm, for the first of two Premier League matches on the south coast in the space of four days.
Chris Hughton’s side will look to end a run of three defeats in all competitions, as the Seagulls go in search of three much-needed points against the Cherries in their battle to steer clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Albion can take confidence from their Emirates FA Cup semi-final showing against Manchester City last Saturday, whereas Bournemouth will be keen to make amends for their 3-1 home defeat to Burnley.
The sides have already met twice this season — Bournemouth claimed a 2-0 victory at the Vitality Stadium in December, before Albion won 3-1 at the same venue in the FA Cup two weeks later.
Hughton confirmed that Pascal Gross and Solly March have both returned to training and decisions will be made on the involvement of both players for Saturday’s game.
Bournemouth defender Charlie Daniels will miss this weekend’s game at the Amex due to a knee injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season and part of the 2019/20 campaign.
The Seagulls made a great start to March, winning back-to-back Premier League matches against Huddersfield Town and Crystal Palace, before progressing past Millwall in the FA Cup.
But ahead of the semi-final clash against City, defeats to Southampton and Chelsea prevented Hughton’s side from building on their positive form, which kept them outside the drop zone.
The 1-0 defeat at Wembley Stadium extended their search for a victory, but the team’s hard-working performance drew a standing ovation from Albion’s 33,000-plus supporters after the full-time whistle.
The Cherries are also without a victory in three matches — Eddie Howe’s team have lost to Leicester City and Burnley since drawing 2-2 with Newcastle United on the south coast.
A valuable three points were attained from a 2-0 win against Huddersfield Town, but this result followed consecutive defeats to Arsenal and reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
Bournemouth had previously won back-to-back home matches in 2019 against West Ham United and Chelsea — the Cherries swept aside the Blues in an eye-catching 4-0 victory.
LAST TIME WE MET
A fortnight after losing 2-0 to the Cherries in the Premier League, Albion returned to the Vitality Stadium to begin their journey in the FA Cup, which resulted in reaching the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium.
Anthony Knockaert broke the deadlock with a clinical finish shortly after the half-hour mark, before Yves Bissouma fired home his first Albion goal to extend his team’s lead going into the break.
Marc Pugh pulled a goal back for the hosts ten minutes into the second half, but Florin Andone headed a third goal for the Seagulls in the 64th minute to reopen a two-goal lead.
Hughton’s side saw out the remainder of the game to book their place in the fourth round of the competition — but Albion’s journey ended with a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City after reaching the final four.
LAST TIME OUT: ALBION
MANCHESTER CITY 1
Albion line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Stephens, Propper, Bissouma (Locadia 82); Knockaert, Murray (Andone 65), Jahanbakhsh (Izquierdo 70).
Subs not used: Button (GK), Burn, Bong, Bruno.
LAST TIME OUT: BOURNEMOUTH
Barnes 4 og
Bournemouth line-up: Begovic; Clyne (Rico 46), Mepham, Ake, Smith; Brooks, Gosling (Solanke 59), Lerma (Stanislas 71), Fraser; King, Wilson.
Subs not used: Boruc (GK), Simpson, Ibe, Mousset.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Josh King
The Manchester United youth graduate has been in fine goalscoring form since the turn of the year, hitting the back of the net six times in 2019 to extend his season tally to 11 goals.
Bournemouth have only lost once this season when King’s name has been on the scoresheet, and the Norway international also scored twice for his country against Spain and Sweden in last month’s 2020 European Qualifiers.
King’s double against Newcastle United last month almost secured three points for Eddie Howe’s team, but former Cherry Matt Ritchie struck late on to take a share of the spoils.
The forward has also hit doubles against Chelsea and Watford this season, both in 4-0 wins for Albion’s south-coast rivals.