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Preview: Norwich City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League relegation battle between Norwich and Brighton, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two teams still fighting against relegation from the Premier League meet on Saturday lunchtime when rock-bottom Norwich City entertain Brighton & Hove Albion at Carrow Road.

The Canaries go into the match now seven points from safety and with a return to the Championship looking increasingly likely, whereas Brighton have a six-point cushion to the bottom three with six games remaining.

Match preview

Norwich City boss Daniel Farke on June 24, 2020© Reuters

The hope that Norwich might emerge from the coronavirus lockdown with a renewed sense of urgency and ambition to pull off an unlikely escape has not borne out, and it would take a minor miracle for them to avoid relegation from this position.

Manager Daniel Farke himself has admitted that his side will probably need five more wins to secure safety, a tally they must try to achieve in just six games, having only won five of their opening 32.

Simply put, there is little to no margin for error from a Norwich perspective now, with seven points separating them from safety and only 18 left to play for this season.

It is difficult to argue with their position at the bottom of the table; Wednesday night's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Arsenal means that they have lost their last five matches across all competitions, including all four since returning from lockdown.

The Canaries also now have the joint-worst defensive record in the division and have scored fewer than any other team at the other end too, their tally of 25 being the second-worst in any of England's top four leagues - behind only the team that finished bottom of the entire Football League.

Teemu Pukki in action for Norwich City on February 1, 2020© Reuters

Incredibly, Norwich have scored just one goal in their last eight Premier League outings and have only found the back of the net four times in the entire calendar year so far, never more than once in a game.

Needless to say, that is a recipe for relegation and, while their home form offered a glimmer of hope before lockdown with Liverpool the only visiting team to beat them at Carrow Road in five games, they have since lost to Southampton and Everton on their own patch.

Saturday's hosts have still won more Premier League games in 2020 than Brighton have, though, with the Seagulls' victory over Arsenal last month their one and only triumph of the year so far.

Graham Potter's side have relied on draws to edge them away from danger in the meantime, and while wins have been scarce, they have also only lost two of their last eight league games.

Both of those defeats came at home, but that is not to suggest that their away form has been particularly impressive - they have won just twice on the road all season and are currently on an eight-match streak without victory.

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter before the match on February 29, 2020© Reuters

Potter will nonetheless be relatively content with his side's position; four points from three games since the return of football have edged them six points away from the relegation zone, and another victory over one of the five teams below them in the table would leave them within touching distance of safety.

Norwich are the only team currently below Brighton that the Seagulls still have to face this season, though, and the importance of a positive result on Saturday is amplified by upcoming back-to-back games against Liverpool and Manchester City after this.

Against a Norwich side that cannot buy a goal at the moment, Brighton's defensive record away from home will also give them confidence; no fewer than 10 teams, including Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, have conceded as many or more goals than them on the road this term, while they are currently on a run of back-to-back away clean sheets for only the second time in their Premier League history.

Last time out they were well beaten by an in-form Manchester United side, though, so Potter will want an immediate response to that convincing 3-0 defeat at the Amex.

Should he get one then Norwich could be all but down, whereas Brighton could be all but safe.

Norwich Premier League form: LWLLLL
Norwich form (all competitions): WLLLLL

Brighton Premier League form: DLDWDL

Team News

Norwich City defender Timm Klose pictured on June 19, 2020© Reuters

Good news has been hard to come by for Norwich, but there is a slice of it in the fact that Timm Klose is back available after suspension.

The return will ease Farke's defensive woes slightly, with Alexander Tettey forced to act as a makeshift centre-back during the heavy defeat to Arsenal.

Fellow defenders Grant Hanley, Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram all remain sidelined, though, while Moritz Leitner is also out.

Tim Krul, whose error opened the floodgates against Arsenal, is expected to stay in goal despite his costly mistake.

Brighton, meanwhile, should have Davy Propper available after he was taken off at half time of the Man United defeat with a tight calf.

Adam Webster is also expected to return from injury while Steven Alzate is in outside contention, but Jose Izquierdo remains sidelined.

Norwich possible starting lineup:
Krul; Aarons, Godfrey, Klose, Lewis; Buendia, Rupp, Tettey, McLean, Cantwell; Pukki

Brighton possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Burn; Lamptey, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma; Maupay, Trossard

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We say: Norwich 0-1 Brighton

Everything points to this being a low-scoring affair and it would not be a surprise to see it end goalless, but Brighton are catching Norwich at a very good time and, with victory important for them too, we are backing the visitors to come out on top.

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Neal Maupay celebrates equalising for Wolves against Brighton on December 8, 2019
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