Kick-off: 7.45pm. Venue: London Stadium. TV: Sky Sports. Live text commentary on the SunSport website.
It was when I had the job of keeping a watch on the Premier League when I began to notice a pattern emerging – the performances at the top of the table rarely fail to live up to their billing. But just below the rate at which expected results are achieved, and despite coming close on some occasions, there is a tendency for the gap between the top teams and those around them to grow ever larger.
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West Ham, who must win to keep up their spirits following an injury-hit start to their own campaign, come up against a Brighton side who, amid a sustained downward spiral, are one point above the relegation zone. While they are hardly faring at the very top of the table, West Ham won their last league game at the London Stadium with a goal from Michail Antonio, while the England international’s goal and the fact that he netted in both legs of the Europa League tie with Zenit St Petersburg have doubled his personal tally to eight in 18 Premier League appearances this season.
Heading the other way is Glenn Murray, whose solitary goal of the season has come from the penalty spot. Sam Allardyce will be concerned that Cardiff City have a so-called “team game” ranked the highest, in his words, among opponents that his side have met. But Albion’s form – won two, drawn one and lost one of their last three Premier League matches – should not worry the Hammers who boast the division’s best record in home fixtures.
Brighton’s goal drought, which extends to more than two months, only goes to underline the club’s downwards spiral. There is little football to celebrate, only chopping and changing depending on the needs of a team the decision makers haven’t set about working. Che Adams has finally broken his duck but at what cost? Sean Dyche will hope for the best but is slightly more suspicious, particularly after his Burnley side were thrashed 6-1 in South London.
One positive is that Dyche and Allardyce have the first chance to put the seven-goal bonanza of Tuesday’s first leg of the Carabao Cup third-round tie that, had they gone to two games, would have got them an international break.