Weblog: The football punter

Brighton can overpower Championship Baggies

BBC1, 8.05pm Wednesday

Ten of the bottom 12 teams in the Premier League have been knocked out of the FA Cup but 13th-placed Brighton can avoid adding their name to the list by beating West Brom in their fourth-round replay at the Hawthorns.

Struggling top-flight sides feel compelled to prioritise league matches over the early rounds of the FA Cup but the same thought process applies to clubs battling to get into the Premier League.

West Brom are on a mission to regain top-flight status at the first attempt and manager Darren Moore made his intentions clear by switching nine players for the FA Cup third-round clash at home to Wigan, which Albion won 1-0, and nine again for their 0-0 draw at Brighton.

They were let off the hook at the Amex due to Brighton's poor finishing. The Seagulls, who had made six changes from their previous game, dominated for long periods and won the shot count 24-6.

Chris Hughton made attacking substitutions in an attempt to force a result, bringing on attacking midfielder Davy Propper and strikers Glenn Murray and Viktor Gyokeres.

A replay was the outcome neither club desired but Brighton have a deeper squad and that may give them the advantage.

West Brom were busy on transfer-deadline day, bringing in Stefan Johansen, Jacob Murphy and Jefferson Montero on loan deals from Fulham, Newcastle and Swansea.

But none of their new recruits are eligible to face the Seagulls and Moore will have to lean heavily on his younger players if he is to keep key first-team players fresh for league action.

The Baggies' Sky Bet Championship promotion hopes were damaged by a 3-2 loss at home to Middlesbrough last Saturday and Moore will be looking for his players to respond with a strong performance and result at Stoke on Saturday.

Brighton also have a massive league match on their minds as they prepare to take on Burnley at the same time on home soil.

The Seagulls have been comfortable for much of the season but have not won in their league five league games and are just five points clear of the relegation zone with 13 games left.

Given the choice Hughton would much rather collect three points against Burnley than advance to the FA Cup fifth round, but Brighton can succeed on both fronts.

Hughton's charges were much better than West Brom in East Sussex and a similarly strong performance could be rewarded with a victory inside normal time.


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Match in Focus

17:30 TODAY BT1

Leicester v C Palace

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Palace have won their last three meetings with Leicester by an aggregate of 9-0.
Expert verdict
Crystal Palace boast a fine recent record against Leicester and should continue their dominance. The Eagles have fought their way up to 13th while Leicester are fading fast, taking just one point from the last 15 on offer – everything points to another Palace defeat of the Foxes.