AFC Bournemouth welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Vitality Stadium on Friday night in their latest Premier League fixture.
But what can be expected from Chris Hughton’s side after they celebrated winning their first game in the top flight since 1983 last Saturday against West Bromwich Albion?
*Article originally written by me and published on AFC Bournemouth’s club website: afcb.co.uk*
Chief sports reporter from The Argus, Andy Naylor, has been covering the Seagulls’ matches since the mid-1990s.
afcb.co.uk: Following Brighton’s win at the weekend what has the mood been like around the town?
AN: You won’t be surprised to hear that morale has been very good after getting the first Premier League win in over 30 years. It was a great win over West Brom, although they didn’t win against Watford before the international break they played well there too, albeit against ten men for two thirds of the game. The trend is upward and the mood is buoyant I would say!
afcb.co.uk: Prior to that match the Seagulls had not scored any goals in the league, therefore were you surprised that they found the back of the net three times?
AN: Honestly, yes I was. I don’t even think Chris Hughton himself expected it to be honest. West Brom are notoriously difficult to break down as Bournemouth know and they are always well organised. Only three teams scored three goals or more against Pulis’ side last season, so it was impressive that the team were able to do that in one game against them.
afcb.co.uk: Pascal Gross scored two of those goals, how impressed were you with him?
AN: He was hugely influential, scoring twice and setting up the other goal with a great cross for Tomer Hemed. He was the club’s first summer signing, coming from Ingolstadt, who were relegated in the Bundesliga last season. It was a real breakthrough game for him, occupying the number 10 role and Chris has adapted his system from the Championship last season, switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-4-1-1. Gross is playing in behind the main striker, which I am sure will be Hemed on Friday night as Glenn Murray had an ankle injury which ruled him out against Watford. He came on at the weekend as a late substitute, but you would expect him to be starting on the bench against his former club.
afcb.co.uk: What else has impressed you about Brighton’s performances this season so far and last season?
AN: There has been a steely determination from the players to keep clean sheets and that was epitomised by Shane Duffy sliding in on the line to try and prevent James Morrison’s goal. That was indicative of the team’s overall fierce determination to keep a clean sheet, not just in this game, but in all four league matches so far.
afcb.co.uk: Finally, are there any players which Bournemouth should potentially look out for and be wary of on Friday night?
AN: Off the back of the win, you would obviously mention Gross and Hemed, but on both wings we also carry a big threat. Anthony Knockaert scored 15 goals in the Championship last season, the most for the club behind Glenn Murray and he made countless assists, deservedly being voted as the Championship Player of the Season. He suffered an ankle injury in pre-season and this was his first 90 minutes against West Brom, after playing 80 at Watford, so he’s back to full fitness and is an exceptional winger.
Andy writes for The Argus and you can visit their site here.
You can follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyNaylorArgus.