West Ham host Brighton on Wednesday night as the Premier League clicks into its feared and fabled festive fixture list.
Both sides dropped points in their previous domestic outings as Brighton were held to a goalless draw by Leeds the day before Manchester City squeezed past the Hammers in a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
24 points and ten places separated the clubs last season, but a win for the Seagulls would take them within two of their loftier hosts. Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming clash.
When is kick off? Wednesday 1 December, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? London Stadium
TV channel/live stream? Amazon Prime Video (UK), USA Network/fuboTV (US), DAZN (Canada)
Highlights? Sky Sports YouTube Channel, BBC Match of the Day (10.35pm – UK)
Referee? Chris Kavanagh
VAR? Jarred Gillett
With one experienced defender already ruled out for the remainder of the season, the sight of Aaron Cresswell painfully crashing into the post during West Ham’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday will have made for painful viewing on many levels for those of a claret and blue persuasion.
West Ham’s Premier League ever-present up to that point was forced off but David Moyes provided a reassuring, if vague, update post-game, saying: “He is okay, his back is stiff after going into the goalpost. He was in a spasm really and couldn’t move his leg well at that point.”
Wednesday may prove too rapid a turnaround for Cresswell, particularly in light of the heavy workload he has already undertaken this campaign, but Angelo Ogbonna is unlikely to be joined on the sidelines by the left-back for an extended period of time.
You can read West Ham’s predicted lineup here.
Brighton enter a characteristically congested December buoyed by the prospect of their two current absentees returning in the near future. Both Danny Welbeck (hamstring) and Steven Alzate (ankle) haven’t featured since limping off in Brighton’s A23 derby with Crystal Palace in September.
While Alzate is tentatively poised for a return to training in the coming weeks, Welbeck could be available ‘this side of Christmas’ according to Brighton’s manager Graham Potter. Though neither will feature against West Ham.
You can read Brighton’s predicted lineup here.
As simultaneous members of the semi-professional Southern League at the inception of the 20th Century, almost half of all the meetings between West Ham and Brighton took place before World War I.
The sides went 45 years without facing each other between 1933 and 1978 before sporadic patches in shared divisions. Yet, amid this potted history these two clubs have enjoyed a remarkably balanced rivalry; sharing 18 wins each as well as 19 draws across all competitions.
However, Brighton come out far more favourably in a Premier League context, going unbeaten in eight meetings with the Hammers since their promotion in 2017. Although, each of the last five matches have ended in a draw.
West Ham come into the contest jarred by consecutive Premier League defeats for the first time since April yet still remain emphatically more in form than their imminent visitors.
Winless in any competition since September, Brighton’s best ever start to a top flight season has ensured they remain above the fold in the top half of the table.
The Seagulls reverted to type with a wasteful display against Leeds last weekend, but aren’t likely to be afforded nearly as many chances to squander against a West Ham side bound for European football post-Christmas.
Prediction: West Ham 2-1 Brighton