It was a tale of two stories for Brighton and West Ham as they kicked off their 2019-20 Premier League campaigns last weekend.
The new season brought along plenty of optimism for both sides after strong summer transfer windows but while there was delight for one during the first game of the season, it was agony for the other.
After surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, Brighton got off to the perfect start this time round with an emphatic 3-0 win at Watford thanks to Abdoulaye Doucoure’s own-goal and strikes from Florin Andone and debutant Neal Maupay.
But for the Hammers, it was a different story altogether as they were humiliated 5-0 by reigning champions Manchester City at the London Stadium. Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick, while Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero grabbed a goal each.
Here, Sportsmail previews both teams ahead of the second weekend of Premier League action, which should throw up plenty more drama…
Brighton got off to the perfect start in the Premier League, overcoming Watford 3-0 away
BRIGHTON: Graham Potter will be desperate to maintain the positive momentum
As the transfer window slammed shut on August 8 on the eve of the new Premier League season, the Seagulls would have been quietly very satisfied with their business after what was an extremely tough campaign last time out.
After finishing just two points above the relegation zone last season before sacking Chris Hughton, it was imperative Brighton got rid of that wave of negativity surrounding the club.
And they did exactly that over the past couple of months, strengthening the spine of the team that had gone stale under Chris Hughton.
They captured the signings of Neal Maupay, Aaron Mooy and Adam Webster from Brentford, Huddersfield and Bristol City respectively, as well as keeping hold of star players, including Lewis Dunk, who attracted interest from Leicester.
And after overseeing his first pre-season with Brighton, Potter couldn’t have asked for a better start to life on the south coast with a statement win over Watford.
Brighton’s Florin Andone celebrates scoring their second goal against Watford last week
Brighton struggled for firepower up top last campaign, only scoring 35 times in 38 matches but there was no evidence of sloppiness in front of goal at Vicarage Road last Saturday as they put the Hornets to the sword.
And that is expected to be the theme for Brighton this season, with Potter – who was previously at Swedish club Ostersunds and then Swansea – liking his side’s to play on the attack.
While, Brighton were 1-0 up and under pressure against Watford in the second half, he resisted the chance to hold onto the lead and instead made attacking substitutions. Glenn Murray and Jurgen Locadia were brought off and he unleashed Maupay and Andone, who both scored and it was vindication of Potter’s bold decision.
And he will be confident of hurting the Hammers defence in his opening Premier League game at the Amex Stadium after they looked out of sorts against City. Victory against the Irons would really give them huge momentum so early on in the season and the omens are good heading into the game.
Brighton have won three of their four Premier League games against West Ham (W3 D1 L0), winning more games against the Hammers than any other team in the competition.
The Seagulls currently have three players on the sidelines, with Jose Izquierdo recovering from a knee injury, while Yves Bissouma and Ezequiel Schelotto are out with shoulder and knee injuries respectively.
Graham Potter will be desperate to keep up the positive momentum against West Ham
WEST HAM: Imperative Manuel Pellegrini’s side bounce back following Man City drubbing
West Ham headed into their first fixture against City with fresh confidence sweeping through the club following a topsy-turvy campaign last time out, where they finished 10th.
Speaking ahead of the new term, manager Manuel Pellegrini said: ‘The relationship was not good at times between the fans and the team and some were not happy with the new ground. But we improved – and I feel we can grow again. We are optimistic… but we must be careful.’
But that soon vanished following the hammering at the hands of Pep Guardiola’s formidable attacking side during a game that was embroiled by VAR controversy at the London Stadium.
Therefore, it’s imperative that West Ham bounce back immediately on the south coast on Saturday afternoon to ensure they get that feel-good factor back.
There is doubt over new £45m signing Sebastian Haller after he picked up a small knock
And the 65-year-old Chilean manager will back his boys to do exactly that. With the attacking talent at his disposal throughout his squad, goals certainly should not be hard to come by.
Pellegrini can count on the likes of Manuel Lanzini, Jack Wilshere and Michail Antonio to provide the threat going forward against a Brighton defence that can be got at when tested.
Pablo Fornals, who the East London side signed for £24m from Villarreal on a five-year contract, will be hoping for his first start in a Hammers shirt after coming on as a second-half substitute against City.
There are doubts over Felipe Anderson, who limped off with a small muscular problem against City, and new £45m signing Sebastian Haller, who picked up a small knock. Meanwhile Mark Noble is still out with a thigh injury.
Slightly worryingly for the club is that their record in August has been atrocious of late. They have lost each of their last eight Premier League games in the month, conceding 27 goals across those defeats.
West Ham will look to immediately bounce back from their 5-0 hammering against Man City
Brighton predicted starting XI: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, March, Gross, Propper, Stephens, Locadia, Maupay.
West Ham predicted starting XI: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Cresswell, Wilshere, Rice, Antonio, Lanzini, Fornals, Chicharito.
What do the bookies say?
Following their emphatic opening day performance, the Seagulls are valued as slight favourites against West Ham with the bookies. They are 6/4 to run out victorious.
Meanwhile, the Hammers are priced at 9/5 to claim their first win of the 2019-20 campaign. And a draw is also a good bet at 23/10.
What has been said?
Brighton manager Graham Potter: We’re still only at the start of what we’re trying to do, the reality is we’ve still only been working with one another for a number of weeks. There’s room for everything to improve and that’s exciting, but the players’ application has been really impressive and is a result of the foundations that were here to begin with.’
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini: ‘Now we are in our second season I believe this side is feeling like a Manuel Pellegrini team. It wasn’t easy in the first year because we changed a lot of things, but we finished the season in the way that I wanted. My hope that this season we are going to improve on what we did last season.’
KEY MATCH FACTS
Brighton and Hove Albion have won three of their four Premier League games against West Ham (W3 D1 L0), winning more games against the Hammers than any other team in the competition.
In the top-flight, West Ham have lost all four of their away visits to Brighton, losing twice in 1982 and twice in 2018.
In their seventh season as a top-flight club, Brighton are looking to win their first two top-flight games of a season for the first time.
West Ham have lost each of their last eight Premier League games in August, conceding 27 goals across those defeats; their last win in the month was in 2016-17 against Bournemouth.
Brighton haven’t scored more than once in any of their last 12 Premier League home games, failing to score in five of their last nine at the Amex Stadium.
Brighton striker Glenn Murray has scored six Premier League goals against West Ham – more than against any other club, netting four with the Seagulls in four appearances.
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