Fight ’til the bitter end. Something Chris Hughton’s men have been doing all season. A willingness to get something out of nothing. This showcase of the teams sheer determination was summarised with James Wilson’s late equaliser versus Derby on Monday. Despite the result bearing little meaning on Brighton’s chances of a top two finish (they still need a victory against Middlesbrough to guarantee second place), it will be a great morale booster for the players.
Brighton have been in scintillating form coming into the ‘home straight’ of the league campaign. In fact, the Seagulls haven’t lost since February 20 when they were dismantled by Cardiff City. This means that by Saturday, they will have not lost in 97 days (Hopefully that run will not end!). In their last ten games, Brighton have acquired 24 points out of a possible 30. Comprehensive victories over Fulham and QPR stand out from those results (5-0 and 4-0 respectively).
Unfortunately for Brighton, Middlesbrough have been equally as impressive coming into the end of the season. Consecutive losses to Rotherham and Charlton led many to believe that Boro were collapsing under the pressure. However 6 straight wins and arguably the best defence in the league proved those critics wrong. Karanka’s side have acquired 21 points out of 30 in their last ten games. Since that run, Middlesbrough have drawn 3 games in row.
Last time out:
A depleted Brighton squad were beaten 3-0 with ease by Middlesbrough. Ending the Seagulls record 21 unbeaten game run.
Familiar faces (almost):
There is no past Brighton players in the Middlesbrough squad. However one man who almost put pen to paper was Adam Clayton. The then Huddersfield Town player was heavily linked with a move to the south coast in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately, he opted for Middlesbrough.
Fact of the day:
Brighton are 13 points better off than their 2012/13 campaign with one game to spare (88 points – 2015/16. 75 points 2012/13).
We are looking forward to…
Seeing two top sides battle it out in what is essentially a play off final. This day will go down in history for both sets of supporters.
Winner takes all. Arguably one of the club’s most important matches in its 115 year history. Brighton go into this match needing a victory. Anything less equals a play off match versus Sheffield Wednesday. A loss for Middlesbrough will be devastating and seen as a huge failure for Karanka. The money they have spent means they can’t afford to stay in this division any longer (£19,500,000 on Rhodes, Downing, and Stuani). My heart says Brighton will win the match in injury time. My gut instinct tells me we will draw and be banished to the play offs. In the end it’s a match of meteoric proportions and one that is hard to predict who will come out on top. We will see this Saturday.
Score Prediction: 2-1
BHAFC: Knockaert, Stephens
By George Carden ( @George_Carden )