MARK O’HAIRE (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting views on Monday night’s Championship encounter as Brighton host Leeds.
Brighton v Leeds | Monday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
Brighton can move to within a point of the automatic promotion places with a narrow victory over Leeds on Monday night and I expect the Seagulls to deliver for favourite backers.
Having overcome a seven-match wobble (W0-D3-L4) before, during and after Christmas, Chris Hughton’s men have bounced back into form (W5-D1-L1), including churning out three successive victories at The Amex against Brentford, Huddersfield and Bolton.
The Seasiders fired blanks in five games on the spin during their lean spell over the festive period but the loan addition of Anthony Knockaert has given the Brighton attack an extra dimension whilst James Wilson remains a major threat at this level.
Along with Scottish wideman Jamie Murphy’s three goals in four games, the hosts have now netted 14 goals across their last seven league outings as well as eight in those aforementioned three home triumphs.
But crucially to Hughton, the club have found defensive discipline and structure once more, keeping their sheets clean in four of those seven fixtures since mid-January, silencing Blackburn, Brentford, Hull and Bristol City along the way.
We saw Hughton’s troops blown away by a three-goal burst in the opening half-an-hour at Cardiff just nine days ago, live on the box. Brighton were eventually beaten 4-1 but the Seagulls rested key duo Tomer Hemed and Berem Kayal that day and both returned for the 4-0 thrashing of Bristol City just three days later.
That impressive destruction of the Robins marked the Seasiders’ biggest win of the campaign. In fact, of Brighton’s 16 successes this season, only two have arrived by more than just a single goal margin.
As hosts, Hughton’s charges have W11-D2-L3 but only Brentford (5th February) were overcome by two goals or more so whilst I’m happy to invest my faith in the home side here, it might be wiser to look towards the Winning Margin market for a hunkier price than the 5/6 (888) best odds available in the Match Odds market.
Stan James are offering 13/5 on Brighton to win by one goal and that holds plenty of appeal considering it’s proven a profitable formula in 14/33 (42%) of their Championship encounters in 2015/16. The implied odds of a 42% chance are 11/8 so already this looks like a nice value alternative.
A stubborn Leeds outfit are still languishing in the lower parts of mid-table and a return of W1-D6-L3 in the league has seen the Whites notch fewer than two goals on nine occasions. With top marksman Chris Wood still sidelined and Mirko Antenucci failing to find the net in 16, a lack of firepower could prove their undoing on Monday night.
Steve Evans’ men tend to be a tough nut to crack. Big-spending Middlesbrough were fortunate to pick up a goalless draw at Elland Road when they clashed just a fortnight ago and on their travels, the Yorkshire giants have suffered just four league losses (W7-D7-L4).
However, those four reverses came when visiting top-11 sides and with two shutouts in 10 Championship matches, I’m not overly keen on Leeds keeping the Brighton offensive threat quiet for 90 minutes, especially in Giuseppe Bellusci’s absence.
Bellusci has played 46 of 78 Leeds’ games since the start of last season and their points-per-game has dropped from 1.43 with him at centre-half to just 0.87 in fixtures he’s missed. Those 32 matches without the Italian defender have resulted in just three clean sheets for the visitors.
This is the Whites’ 11th appearance on TV this term and although they rank rock-bottom in the away shots-on-target ratio stakes – their share of the total shots-on-target – I still reckon they keep this close and competitive.
Only once since October have Evans’ men lost by more than the odd goal but with six of their last eight trips to top-six teams ending in defeat, I’ll confidently have Brighton to sneak home with another vital three points.
Alternatively, the 6/4 from Skybet seems more than fair on the Seagulls winning 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1. Only one of the Whites’ 10 defeats in 2015/16 have been by a different scoreline with 11 of Brighton’s 16 victories obliging by one of those three correct scores.
Brighton v Leeds – Brighton to win by exactly one goal (13/5 Stan James)
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