Newcastle v Brighton
Saturday 20 October, 15:00

Injury worries for Benitez

In their last match before the international break, Newcastle snatched a sensational two-goal lead away to Manchester United before losing 3-2. That left them second-bottom on two points, one of three winless teams in the Premier League along with Huddersfield and Cardiff, but the first-half performance at Old Trafford gives them something positive to build on.
Rafa Benitez has injury worries, with Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto - the scorers against United - both substituted at Old Trafford after suffering niggles. Striker Salomon Rondon and left-back Paul Dummett have both missed the last two matches due to muscle injuries and centre-back Ciaran Clark had to withdraw from the Republic of Ireland squad with a thigh problem.
The most serious doubt is Clark; the others could all be available for selection.

Travel sickness

Brighton remain reliant on their home form and they had another win at the Amex before the break, beating West Ham 1-0 to lie 13th in the table on eight points. They are poor travellers, with just three points from their last 10 away games.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan and defender Gaetan Bong have both had knocks but are expected to be fit. Davy Propper, who went off against the Hammers with a foot injury, should be available and fellow midfielder Pascal Gross might also return after missing the last four matches.

Easier run ahead for Newcastle

Newcastle have shortened to 3.50 in the relegation betting after their poor start but the mitigating factor is that their early fixture list always looked difficult, with six of their first eight games being against teams from last season's top nine.
The fixtures become easier now, with no big-six team to face before Christmas, and Benitez will be looking for an uplift in form.
Newcastle were fairly solid in this type of home fixture last season, although not that reliable for win backers, with a record of W5 D2 L3 against teams below the top nine.
Most of the good results in that record were achieved with a clean sheet (W4 D1 L0), which included a goalless draw against Brighton at the end of December.
The good news for Newcastle is that Brighton still find it difficult to score on the road, withseven blanks in 12 Premier League trips since then. Opta point out that Brighton are winless in their last 17 Premier League away games (D5 L12), scoring just seven goals in that run.
Chris Hughton's side will have to believe they have a decent shot at turning that record around against the struggling hosts, but it is difficult to ignore Brighton's poor stats.
Another key point from Opta is that Newcastle had 28 shots against Brighton in the Premier League last season without scoring. That reflects badly on Benitez's strike force, of course, but with Brighton giving up that many chances the more likely winner is Newcastle at2.32 and they are worth a punt at the odds.

Low goals likely

With two managers who pride themselves on defensive organisation and lack prolific goalscorers, under 2.5 goals is an obvious call at 1.62.
Under 1.5 goals has to be considered at 2.72 given that this fixture last season was goalless and the reverse match was a 1-0 home win for Brighton.
Last season Newcastle were joint-top in the Premier League for matches with under 1.5 goals.

Opta Stat

Newcastle have lost all four of their Premier League home games this season - only three teams in English top-flight history have ever lost their first five (Man Utd 1930-31, Portsmouth in 2009-10 and Bolton in 2011-12). Brighton are 3.80 to inflict another defeat here.
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Back Newcastle to win at 2.32

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