Weblog: The football punter

Brighton and Burnley set for a close encounter

BT Sport 1, 5.30pm Saturday

Brighton and Burnley can edge themselves further towards Premier League safety with a draw at the Amex Stadium as the race for survival gets increasingly tight.

Huddersfield are virtually down and Fulham will soon join them unless they produce something special, but only five points separate Cardiff in 18th from 13th-placed Brighton with Burnley firmly in the mix, two points ahead of the Bluebirds.

Albion will be banking on their home form and they are still to play five of the bottom six at the Amex, which should be enough for them to stay clear of strife -  Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea are the only sides to leave Brighton with maximum points.

However, winning does not come easy for Chris Hughton's side, who have had only one league victory in their last ten games. Even the FA Cup has highlighted their struggles to get over the line and they were taken to extra-time in their fourth-round replay at Sky Bet Championship outfit West Brom on Wednesday.

Hughton rotated his squad for that match so tiredness shouldn't be an issue, although a lack of preparation time could be more of a problem against a well-drilled Burnley team.

The visitors will have to keep tabs on evergreen striker Glenn Murray - and many teams have struggled on that front this term - but Burnley arrive in Sussex in their best shape of the season.

Burnley are unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches, including three successive draws. The run was extended by Ashley Barnes' last-gasp penalty in a 1-1 draw with Southampton last week.

Sean Dyche's side showed their improvement from earlier in the campaign when they went to Old Trafford and led Manchester United 2-0 before being pegged back late on for a 2-2 draw.

They have looked much more like the Burnley of last season and starting this campaign so early due to the Europa League clearly impacted on Dyche's ability to prepare the team, both in terms of a brief pre-season as well as the extra midweek workloads.

James Tarkowski and Ben Mee with Tom Heaton behind them is a solid base, but they have scored only 26 league goals and should not overly trouble Brighton's strong centre-back pairing of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk.

Burnley are a direct side and they are likely to get even more direct with deadline-day arrival Peter Crouch on board but that is the kind of physical battle the robust home rearguard relishes.

A low-scoring game seems probable which brings the draw into play.


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Match in Focus

19:45 TODAY

Wolves v Arsenal

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Wolves are unbeaten in their last six home league games.
Expert verdict
The Gunners’ hopes of a top-four finish suffered a body blow against Palace on Sunday and they have won just two of their last ten Premier League away games. This looks the toughest of their three remaining trips, as Wolves are a solid proposition at Molineux.