Hello, and welcome to Sports Mole
's live coverage of the match in the Premier League between Brighton & Hove Albion
and Newcastle United
This time last season. both Brighton and Newcastle were beginning to make headway in the Championship as they looked to mount a bid for promotion and 12 months on, they are preparing to go head to head in a bid to add more points to their tally in an attempt to edge that little bit closer to registering 40 points by the middle of May.
Some will argue that it is too early to be considering how many points may be required to retain a place in the Premier League but that will not be the case with Chris Hughton
and Rafael Benitez
. Both clubs will be striving to finish as high as possible but in reality, a victory for either team will be seen as a another step towards survival in the top flight.
As it stands currently, Newcastle have eyes on trying to move back into the top four of the standings. It is a scenario which seemed unthinkable when losing both of their opening games without scoring a goal but three wins on the bounce has suggested that Benitez should not necessarily be too unhappy with the make-up of his first-team squad. Brighton only sit outside of the relegation zone on goal difference but if they emerge victorious today, mid-table will be very much in their sights.
Anyway, without further ado, let's get cracking with the team news, starting with the home side.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION XI: Ryan, Suttner, Dunk, Duffy, Bruno, March, Propper, Stephens, Knockaert, Gross, Hemed
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION SUBSTITUTES Krul, Hunemeier, Murphy, Izquierdo, Schelotto, Rosenior, Brown
NEWCASTLE UNITED XI:
Elliott, Mbemba, Clark, Lascelles, Yedlin, Hayden, Merino, Atsu, Perez, Ritchie, Joselu
NEWCASTLE UNITED SUBSTITUTES: Darlow, Murphy, Shelvey, Gayle, Diame, Manquillo, Gamez
Brighton suffered defeat to Bournemouth in their last Premier League match but Hughton opts to make just the one alteration to his starting lineup, with Bruno coming in at right-back for Liam Rosenoir. However, there is a notable name on their substitutes' bench with former Newcastle United Tim Krul
being included after signing on a free transfer.
As for Newcastle, Benitez opts to start with the same team that beat Stoke City at St James' Park last weekend. It means that Joselu
gets an opportunity to add to his one goal in a Magpies shirt in attack, while Jonjo Shelvey
remains confined to the bench as he continues to miss out after his needless red card against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening weekend of the season. Florian Lejeune is also only among the replacements as he continues his comeback from picking up an injury on his debut in August.
HEAD TO HEAD! Today's fixture represents just the 21st time in which these two teams have faced each other in a competitive match, with Newcastle claiming nine victories in comparison to eight wins for Brighton. Last season marked the only time that the clubs have featured in the same league since 1992, with Newcastle running out 2-0 and 2-1 victors respectively.
If you have forgotten about last year's clash at the Amex Stadium, it is worth me refreshing your memory. It was a game which Brighton largely dominated and led heading into the closing stages, but a complete fluke from Mohamed Diame got Newcastle back on level terms before Ayoze Perez netted in the final minute of normal time. To read back on what turned out to be a memorable encounter, click here
Both clubs were active in the transfer window - Brighton more so than Newcastle - so let's compare how many new signings feature in the starting lineups for today's game.
Brighton include just the four fresh faces - Mathew Ryan, Markus Suttner, Davy Propper and Pascal Gross - with Newcastle handing starts to Mikel Merino and Joselu. For all the talk about the need to improve the respective first XIs, a total of half-a-dozen summer signings is on the low side but it shows the faith that Hughton and Benitez must have in the players which helped their clubs to promotion.
The general consensus is that Brighton will need to collect the majority of points in front of their own supporters if they are to remain in the Premier League and it is so far so good on that front. Losing to Manchester City was expected and Hughton and his players should probably take the positives from keeping City at bay for over an hour, but the pressure was heightened for the game with West Bromwich Albion and the Seagulls came through with flying colours. A level was set for the type of performances which need to be delivered on a weekly basis and if they can set a similar tempo against Newcastle, you have to fancy Brighton to at least a point on the board.
That said, Newcastle have surprised many in recent weeks. After the abject display against Huddersfield Town, a lot of questions were asked - both on and off the pitch - but while Mike Ashley frustrated Benitez in the transfer market, his first-team squad have delivered with three victories against teams who are considered to be direct rivals. Seeing off Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium was particularly impressive given the need to grind out a result and there is now fresh optimism at the club ahead of another long trip for a 4pm kickoff, BST, on a Sunday afternoon. On that front, you have to question how much common sense is applied to making amendments to the schedule for the purpose of television but there is an argument that being given the raw end of the deal on more than one occasion will unite the players and the fans. It's hardly adversity, but Benitez and his players will want to reward the club's supporters for making the near 700-mile round trip.
PREDICTION! This match is a tough one to call. We expect Brighton to set the pace in front of an expectant home crowd but Newcastle - led by Jamall Lascelles - are showing a fighting spirit that maybe Benitez didn't expect. We are going to sit on the fence for this one and predict a 1-1 draw, with Newcastle again finding an important goal in the latter stages of a match.
It's time for the two teams to make their way out at the Amex Stadium, led by Bruno and Lascelles. It goes without saying that it is a full house for this one. Kickoff is coming right up.
Newcastle get us underway.
SHOT! Within two minutes of the start, Ryan has made an excellent stop to deny Merino, who directed a volley on goal from 20 yards after meeting a cleverly-worked corner.
It has been an excellent start from both sides. Brighton are spraying the ball about for fun, with a fine pass from Stephens leading to a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Newcastle somehow survive a goalmouth scramble.
CHANCE! It's a tough chance but Hemed would have expected to do better. The forward got on the end of Gross's inswinging delivery but his header went harmlessly over the crossbar. Brighton have responded well to almost conceding in the opening two minutes.
SHOT! Another opportunity for Hemed, although he is a tad greedy. Their were options to his left and right but instead, he fired a low shot too close to Elliot from 25 yards out.
The action has started to quieten down now, but it had to. Both clubs are playing with confidence, however, and this is shaping up to be an intriguing battle. Brighton are still shading it.
CHANCE! How haven't Brighton scored here?! March's cross is deflected into the path of Gross, who should net from no more than eight yards. However, his effort hits teammate Knockaert and goes wide of the post!
BOOKING! The first booking of the game goes to Knockaert, who rugby-tackles Atsu on the touchline.
There's so much to like about this Brighton side. Another fast break forward ends with March's cross almost finding the far corner, with Elliott having to react sharply to make the save.
The Newcastle wide players are not being given a moment's peace. Cross after cross is being sent into the danger areas and it is because the full-backs and wingers are not doing enough to prevent the deliveries. March, Gross and Knockaert are running this game, as is Stephens in the middle.
CHANCE! Newcastle should be ahead. Perez's cross is deflected into the path of Joselu and although the Spaniard needs to turn sharply, he should be hooking his shot into the far corner, rather than wide of the post.
After surviving a dominant spell from their hosts, Newcastle are now starting to have the better of this game. The Magpies are a danger from set pieces and it has taken a couple of timely headers to prevent the likes of Lascelles getting an effort on goal.
After Yedlin is harshly adjudged to have fouled March, it gives Brighton another chance to get a ball into the box but Newcastle continue to look solid at the back. Lascelles is developing into an excellent defender but Mbemba is doing his fair share of the work too.
CHANCE! Perez is yet to score this season and this is probably his clearest chance. The Spaniard is under pressure but he should be finding the net from 12 yards out. Instead, the ball was directed a couple of yards over the bar.
The approach work of both sides cannot be criticised but both clubs are lacking the number nine to benefit from chances in and around the penalty area. It's an area I am sure both Hughton and Benitez will address in January.
Ritchie has been a peripheral figure down the right but the Scot has now started to come into the game. A free kick is won around 35 yards out and it is in the territory of Newcastle's chief playmaker. However, his set piece is tame and straight at Ryan.
Hughton is out of his seat barking orders at his Brighton players. It's no surprise really because while their intensity has dropped, Newcastle's has only increased and they are approaching half time the stronger of the two sides.
There will be one minute of added-on time.
HALF TIME: Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Newcastle United
The half-time whistle goes at the Amex Stadium and we remain goalless. However, it has been a highly-competitive contest and both teams are performing well. Newcastle will probably be happy with a point, but Hughton will want three points from this match so expect the Seagulls to continue to throw men forward at the break.
The two teams are making their way back out. There doesn't appear to be any changes.
Brighton get us back underway.
It's been a quiet start to the second half. Brighton have seemingly changed things up with more long balls being fired towards Hemed. I'm not sure that is going to work against Lascelles and Mbemba.
GOAL! Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Newcastle United (Hemed)
Before you start thinking it came from a long ball, it didn't.
A free kick is sent to the back post and it catches out Newcastle. Stephens is able to head the ball back across goal and into the path of Hemed, who hooks a shot into the roof of the net from close range.
Newcastle haven't really got going in this second half. It will leave Benitez bitterly disappointed because they finished strongly at the end of the opening period. A second goal for Brighton may be enough to seal the points.
CHANCE! Elliot has just made a miraculous save to keep Newcastle in this game. Bruno's cross found March at the back post and he finds the target from just a few yards out. However, Elliot sticks out a boot to stop the ball on the line and Newcastle survive.
Finally, Newcastle are starting to show some ambition to get back on level terms. Passes are being made at a faster rate but they are still to force Ryan into any work since the restart.
SHOT! For the second time in this match, Merino almost scores with a deflected shot from distance. His curling effort is going straight at Ryan, but Duffy diverts the strike just wide of the post.
Despite their goal advantage, Brighton are not sitting back. Bruno is becoming an increasingly influential figure down the right and his performance is leading to more noise from the home supporters.
SUBSTITUTION! Newcastle's first chance of the game sees Jonjo Shelvey replace Hayden. It adds more creativity to the Mapgies, but maybe gives Brighton more opportunities to attack through the middle.
SUBSTITUTION! A second alteration in three minutes sees Dwight Gayle replace Joselu.
WOODWORK! This would have gone someway to making up for his sending off against Spurs. Shelvey takes a corner on the left-hand side and his inswinging delivery is only prevented from finding the net by Ryan and the post. It's an outrageous effort but it almost pays off.
BOOKING! Duffy is booked for a crude challenge on Perez. The easiest of decisions for the referee.
SHOT! Shelvey takes responsibility for the free kick but the midfielder curls the ball high over the crossbar.
SUBSTITUTION! Brighton's first alteration is one that has not been warmly received by Knockaert, who is replaced by Jamie Murphy.
SUBSTITUTION! It's changes aplenty at the Amex. Jesus Gamez is on for Mbemba. There have not many chances to speak of in the past 10 minutes.
It's all Newcastle now. Shelvey drives down the left but a low cross is poor and put behind for a corner. Dunk contributes to another set piece being conceded but Brighton manage to survive.
Newcastle have reverted to delivering long balls into the penalty area but Duffy and Dunk are easily beating Gayle in the air. The visitors are the better side but Brighton look comfortable.
There will be three minutes of added-on time.
SHOT! Gayle does well to turn away from the defender but his shot is weak and too close to Ryan, who grabs hold of the ball at the second attempt.
FULL TIME: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Newcastle United
The full-time whistle goes at the Amex Stadium and Brighton have held on to seal a fine 1-0 win over Newcastle. The Magpies had their moments but Brighton were deserved victors and this result could prove crucial come the end of the season. Hughton's team now sit in 13th place, while Newcastle remain in seventh spot with their three-game winning streak coming to an end.
That will be all from Sports Mole's coverage of this game. Thank you for joining us this afternoon and we hope to see you again throughout the week for games from the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League. Goodbye for now.