It all comes down to this. 90 minutes of Premier League football on the South Coast stands between Manchester City and the Premier League crown. Standing in the way are a struggling Brighton side – a routine win, right? Wrong. If anyone should be aware of the threat a struggling side can pose on the final day of a season, it’s Manchester City – note no that famous day in 2012.
Ahead of this one we caught up with Scott from WeAreBrighton.com to get his thoughts on the final game of a thrilling Premier League campaign.
It goes without saying, this fixture is a far bigger occasion for the blues of Manchester than it is for the Seagulls, but what is the mood around the Brighton support going into the clash at the Amex?
Earlier in the week, I think most Brighton supporters were just looking forward to having the eyes of the world on little old Brighton, what with the intrigue in the title race. The game has taken on added significance now, with Bruno announcing it will be his final match before retiring this summer. He’s one of the most popular players the club has ever had, one of only two men to ever captain us to promotion to the top flight and is loved across the city. So, whereas before not many Albion fans were bothered about the result, now it would be brilliant if he could go out with a win.
A select few Brighton players seem intent on spoiling the party for Manchester City, but what are your expectations for the game ahead?
It’s really difficult to know. By and large, we’ve been terrible since the turn of the year yet in our last four games, we’ve only lost at Spurs thanks to a piece of brilliance in the last minute from Christian Eriksen, and drawn with Arsenal in a game we should have won. We could have even taken City to extra-time in our recent FA Cup meeting had we had a little more luck and been more clinical when our chances arrived from set pieces. That day will probably provide the blueprint for Chris Hughton in terms of what he does on Sunday and we do seem to be saving our best performances for games with the big six at the minute whilst losing 5-0 at home to Bournemouth and 2-0 to Cardiff. If you’re below par, we could take something but if City turn up as they can do then it should be a routine win and the title is yours.
The clash at Wembley brought an end to Brighton’s FA Cup dream and the only chance of any silverware coming to the South Coast. How would you assess your campaign as a whole?
It’s an 8/10 for the first half of the season and a 2/10 for the second. We were 12 points clear of relegation at Christmas when Hughton decided to change from 4-4-1-1 to 4-3-3, since when our form has fallen off a cliff. We’ve won just two league games in 2019 and quite literally anybody who has watched us since the turn of the year can see that the formation change has been behind it except seemingly Hughton. That’s a major concern going forward as although we’ve survived and that means we’ve met our target for the year, if our second half of the season form carries into 2019-20 then we’re going to be in real trouble.
With the title going down to the final day, and Wolves and Brighton being given the chance to derail one team’s title bid, who would you rather see lift the Premier League trophy on Sunday?
Manchester City, to the point where I don’t actually care if we lose to you. Before we won promotion to the Premier League I never minded Liverpool but since we’ve come up, we’ve been exposed to how precious and hypocritical their supporters are. There are the petitions if they lose a game because it’s a conspiracy and their supporters went insane on Twitter after they beat us 1-0 at the Amex in January after we questioned if, just maybe, Mo Salah might be a diver. A coach load of fans also decided to invade a private party at one the pubs we drink in after the game when they broke down, refused to leave and then got all upset and tried to start a fight because people started singing anti-Liverpool songs. Title for City on Sunday, please.
It’s Premier League survival for Brighton, with that probably being the main aim going into the 18/19 campaign. What are the aims and ambitions for the club going into next season?
Sadly, it will just be to survive again. We’re a very tightly run ship and won’t spend the money needed to break into that little cluster of clubs consisting of Everton, Leicester and Wolves just below the the top six. That means the best we can do is to try and stay out of trouble, with the added bonus of a decent cup run thrown in.
Brighton Starting XI and Score Prediction?
Hughton isn’t the sort of guy to throw in the Under 23s for experience even if our season is over, so it will probably be a full strength side of Maty Ryan in goal. Bruno, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Bernardo as the back four. Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, Yves Bissouma and Solly March in midfield and Pascal Gross just off Glenn Murray.
As for a score prediction, a 2-0 win for City.
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