West Ham v Brighton: Share of the spoils in East London
Two well-matched sides go to battle on Saturday afternoon and in a high-pressure game, we may just see the points shared at a decent price, says Jamie Pacheco.
West Ham v Brighton Saturday February 1, 15:00
Hammers in a scrap
West Ham are in a precarious position and avoiding relegation is obviously their primary goal, a far cry from the positivity among fans at the start of the season who may have realistically expected a Top 10 finish.
But for what it's worth, I think they'll be ok in terms of not going down. Just. David Moyes looks like a manager suited for a do-or-die scrap and there are certainly squads with weaker players than this one.
What he can't be doing is being too negative. Ok, Liverpool are pretty much unplayable at present but at times there was little or no intent to attack at all during their 2-0 defeat on Wednesday. That's fine to an extent if you're up against the league leaders but Moyes will certainly need to be more ambitious when up against other sides.
Seagulls not scoring enough
Brighton are two points above West Ham but starting with this one, they've got four matches coming up which can certainly give them some breathing space.
A slight concern is their recent form which in turn adds to a lack of momentum. Their last four matches have yielded just one point courtesy of a draw against Aston Villa and as ever with them, one area they can improve on is simply scoring more goals. But then again, proven goalscorers are a priceless commodity at this level and attracting them to a club like Brighton is easier said than done.
On the plus side, there are no real absences so they should be able to field something like their best side.
If it looks like a draw...
West Ham are slight favourites at 2.68 and that's somewhat understandable but that's certainly not to say that makes them a bet. At least based on their head-to-head record in the Premier League.
The Hammers have tried to beat Brighton on five occasions in the Premier League and failed each time. So are Brighton the bet at 2.92? No, we can't be going with that, either.
The visitors have won just one of their last nine with four draws and four defeats. Curiously, as Opta point out, there's a nice symmetry with their results in that they've alternated between draw and defeat between that period. Last time out they lost so if the pattern continues, they're going to draw this time round.
The stalemate actually looks a good wager at 3.45. It was the outcome in the last two games between them and given they look pretty evenly matched and that it wouldn't be a disastrous result for either side, it's the logical call. Especially because it's the biggest price of the three.
Slight preference for overs
It's even money the pair on the over/under 2.5 goals market.
Can we make a case for one over the other? Just about. It's 63% of West Ham home games and Brighton away goals that have gone 'overs' and four of the last seven between them have had at least three goals as well.
So the stats certainly point to overs but there is a concern that there aren't too many natural goalscorers out there on the pitch and if this is the slow-burner that it might be, then it's probably best giving this market a miss.
Webster and Noble value bets
Not only do Brighton not score that many goals but they tend to share them around. Interestingly, their away day specialist is defender Adam Webster who is their top scorer on the road with three. He's available at 9/1 and based on stats alone, that looks like a value bet. Fellow defender Ben Dunk, who has two, is available at 15/2. Aaron Mooy, who has been in decent form of late, can be backed at 5/1.
Unsurprisingly, the hosts' top scorer this season is big money signing Sebastian Haller and he's a 9/5 shot. Skipper Mark Noble has had a new lease of life since Moyes arrived and has three in his last five matches. Deadly from the penalty spot, he probably looks the pick of the West Ham players at 5/1.