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Sep 12, 2015 at 3pm UK at Falmer Stadium

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Preview: Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Hull City

Sports Mole takes a closer look at both sides ahead of Saturday's Championship clash between Brighton & Hove Albion and Hull City.

An early-season clash of the top two will take centre stage at the Amex Stadium on Saturday when Brighton & Hove Albion host Hull City.

Brighton are one of just three sides unbeaten in the Championship, while Hull are currently three points behind the Seagulls in second place.


Brighton

Kazenga Lualua of Brighton celebrates his opening goal with Tomer Hemed of Brighton during the Sky Bet Championship match between Ipswich Town and Brighton and Hove Albion at Portman Road stadium on August 29, 2015© Getty Images

Chris Hughton became Brighton's third manager of last season when he arrived at the club in December, and it is certainly fair to say that he started his reign with pressure on his shoulders as the club battled relegation after challenging for promotion in recent years.

A 20th-place finish was nothing to get excited about early in his spell, but with Championship status secure for another year, Hughton has shown how much he can achieve with a full pre-season schedule behind him.

Brighton were busy improving the squad throughout the summer and they are already starting to look closer to the side that reached the playoffs in successive campaigns before last season.

Much of the problems last year came down to a lack of a clinical edge in the final third, and although eight goals from five games perhaps suggests that there is still room for improvement, the resilience displayed before the international break should come as a boost to the club's fans.

The form of Kazenga LuaLua and Tomer Hemed has been key to their success so far, with the pair scoring six of Brighton's eight league goals, and both will be expected to lead the charge in front of fans expecting a positive approach to a difficult home fixture.

Recent form: WWDWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWLW


Hull City

Chuba Akpom of Hull City celebrates with his team mate Ahmed El Mohamady after scoring the first goal in extra time during the Capital One Cup First Round match between Accrington Stanley and Hull City at Wham Stadium on August 11, 2015© Getty Images

When Hull were relegated to the Championship at the end of last season, many people predicted that Steve Bruce could be set to leave the KC Stadium as the Tigers considered a fresh approach.

Summer talks ended with Bruce staying at the club, and the decision to retain his services has been vindicated in the early stages of the campaign after Hull reached the international break in second spot.

Last season proved that not much can be learned from the table in the opening weeks of the season, but Hull's loyal supporters will at least be quietly confident of producing a strong promotion bid as they look to return to the top tier of English football once again.

In a busy end to the transfer window, arrivals and departures saw Nikica Jelavic join West Ham United to create space for the signing of striker Adama Diomande from Stabaek.

Attacking options appear to be key for Bruce, who has seen the likes of Chuba Akpom, Sone Aluko and Abel Hernandez all make their cases for a regular starting spot.

After losing just once in their opening five league games, it would be expected that on-pitch news would be most important but Jake Livermore has dominated the headlines this week in the aftermath of his suspension for testing positive for cocaine in May.

Due to the circumstances of the incident, which took place after the death of his newborn son, the Football Association decided against banning the midfielder, who is now back in training with his teammates.

Focus will now return to the pitch as Bruce and his players look to halt the progress of a side in similar form, and prove that a promising start is the platform for a possible title push.

Recent form: WDWLW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWLWW


Team News

Steve Bruce manager of Hull City reacts during the Hull City v KSC Lokeren UEFA Europa League Qualifying Play-Off match at the KC Stadium on August 28, 2014© Getty Images

After scoring before the international break, Hernandez should keep his spot in attack alongside Akpom as Diomande looks set for a place on the bench on Saturday.

Shaun Maloney is in line for his first start for the club after moving from Chicago Fire, while Tom Huddlestone is also pushing for a recall.

Brighton have no new injury concerns ahead of their return to action, and Hughton may choose to stick with the same side that started the 3-2 victory over Ipswich Town.

However, the Seagulls could welcome back defender Lewis Dunk for just his second start of the season.

Brighton possible starting lineup:
Stockdale, Bruno, Dunk, Hunemeier, Bong, Rosenior, Kayal, Stephens, LuaLua, Hemed, Baldock

Hull possible starting lineup:
McGregor, Robertson, Davies, Dawson, Odubajo, Huddlestone, Diame, Elmohamady, Maloney, Hernandez, Akpom


Head To Head

Hull have lost just one the last six meetings between the two sides, and they came out on top when goals from Curtis Davies and Robert Koren earned them a 2-1 victory in a FA Cup replay in February 2014.

However, it was the Seagulls who triumphed in the last league clash thanks to Vicente, who scored the only goal of the game a year earlier.


Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:


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We say: Brighton 1-2 Hull

It seems a safe bet to assume that Hull will be battling for promotion in the closing stages of the season, but they should be tested by a Brighton side full of confidence after a fine start to the campaign. However, the Tigers could put more pressure on a Brighton defence which looked vulnerable against Ipswich and they may walk away with all three points on Saturday.



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Chuba Akpom of Hull City celebrates with his team mate Ahmed El Mohamady after scoring the first goal in extra time during the Capital One Cup First Round match between Accrington Stanley and Hull City at Wham Stadium on August 11, 2015
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