Aiming to avoid losing three matches on the bounce for the first time since March 2022, Brighton & Hove Albion return to the Amex Stadium to meet Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday in the Premier League.
On the back of their FA Cup semi-final heartbreak, the Seagulls’ misery was compounded in a 3-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, prior to which Julen Lopetegui’s side defeated Crystal Palace 2-0.
Nearly everything that could have gone wrong for Forest in the first half of their midweek clash with Brighton did go wrong. An injury to Moussa Niakhate, Jason Steele saving Brennan Johnson’s penalty and Facundo Buonanotte’s tap-in all served to dampen the spirits of the City Ground faithful.
However, a Pascal Gross own goal just before the break came at the perfect time for Forest, who turned the game on its head through a fine Danilo strike before Morgan Gibbs-White did what Johnson could not – convert from 12 yards in added time following a Lewis Dunk handball.
Perhaps still suffering from a Wembley hangover after their bitterly disappointing penalty-shootout defeat to Manchester United, Roberto De Zerbi’s side remain on the coat-tails of European spots in eighth place, five points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur after the Lilywhites drew with Man United on Thursday.
Three defeats from their last four matches in all competitions is an unsightly record at a first glance, but Brighton still have the benefit of games in hand on the teams around them as they hunt down their fellow continental chasers, and the Amex turf has been relatively kind to the hosts in recent weeks.
Indeed, Brighton have gleaned 13 points from the last 16 on offer in front of their own fans – keeping clean sheets in all four of those wins over Liverpool, Bournemouth, West Ham United and Crystal Palace – but Wolves’ tails are up as they look to prey on the Seagulls.
Molineux has not been a happy hunting ground for many visiting teams in 2023, and Roy Hodgson’s Eagles became the latest team to feel the full force of Wolves’ bite, falling to a comprehensive defeat thanks to an early and late goal.
A third-minute Ruben Neves corner was turned into his own net by Joachim Andersen, and after Lopetegui’s side quelled a few futile Palace attacks, Neves capped off the perfect evening with his sixth goal of the season from the penalty spot after Pedro Neto was caught by Sam Johnstone.
A third successive win to nil over a London club at Molineux has put a bit more daylight between 13th-placed Wolves and the drop zone – sitting eight points clear of the dotted line with five games left to play – and their survival task is therefore very nearly complete.
Lopetegui’s side do not have their away form to thank for their mid-table standing, though, as the visitors have failed to win any of their last five Premier League games on the road and have just two victories on their travels all season – only Everton, Leeds United and Forest have performed worse on rival territory.
Brighton have secured back-to-back wins at Molineux in the past two seasons – edging a five-goal thriller 3-2 in November – but they only have one Premier League home victory to their name against Wolves, a 1-0 success in their 2017-18 debut season thanks to a Glenn Murray strike.
Brighton & Hove Albion Premier League form:
Brighton & Hove Albion form (all competitions):
Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:
We say: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Without the Molineux faithful spurring them on, Wolves have consistently struggled to perform away from their headquarters, and their hopes of a first clean sheet on their travels since August are wafer-thin.
Brighton may not be ending the month with a flourish, but De Zerbi’s men have typically responded well to setbacks this season, and we have faith in the Seagulls to get back on track and keep their hopes of European qualification alive.