Brighton host Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League on Thursday night. The Seagulls are winless in five matches and have just one point from two European matches so far. Ajax are without a win in eight matches with five defeats. They sit 17th in the Eredivisie and have just sacked coach Maurice Steijn.
Brighton had an incredible start to the season, winning four of their first five league matches including 3-1 vs Newcastle at home and 3-1 at Man Utd. Since that victory at Old Trafford, it’s one win in seven fixtures and none in the last five. The poor streak began with a 3-2 home loss to AEK Athens on matchday one of the Europa League.
They rallied to beat Bournemouth 3-1 at home but successive defeats followed: 1-0 at Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and a 6-1 humiliation away to Aston Villa in the league. Two fightbacks followed to draw 2-2. They first came from 2-0 down to rescue a point at Marseille and then from 2-1 down to draw 2-2 with Liverpool in the Premier League. On Saturday, they were largely outclassed by Man City in a 2-1 away defeat.
Brighton Team News
Roberto De Zerbi has numerous injuries to deal with, especially at fullback. On the left, Pervis Estupinan is absent and both understudies Tariq Lamptey and Solly March are ruled out after the latter’s injury at Man City. James Milner may have to cover on that flank with Joel Veltman at right back.
Danny Welbeck was also injured at the Etihad Stadium but the attack has a fair amount of depth. One of Evan Ferguson or Ansu Fati will come into the XI whilst Adam Lallana is another option. Jan Paul Van Hecke and Billy Gilmour are both hoping to be recalled to the starting lineup.
This is a must-win match for Brighton’s hopes of progressing out of the group. A defeat would be a disaster and a draw means they’d need to go to Amsterdam and win in two weeks’ time.
De Zerbi’s side are going to attack constantly in this match with a front four. They won’t ease off in the second half even if they’re leading.
This season has been a nightmare for AFC Ajax and coach Maurice Steijn has been sacked after Sunday’s 4-3 defeat at Utrecht amid fan unrest. After seven Eredivisie matches, the Dutch giants have tasted victory on just one occasion. Assistant Hedwiges Maduro will take charge of this fixture. After a 3-1 loss at FC Twente, Ajax surrendered two leads to draw 3-3 at home with Marseille.
A humiliating 4-0 home defeat to rivals Feyenoord followed. Matchday two in Europe saw another lead squandered by drawing 1-1 at AEK Athens in Greece. They’ve since lost both league matches, firstly 2-1 at home to AZ Alkmaar and then the Utrecht loss where they led 3-2 after 70 minutes.
Ajax Team News
Young midfielder Sivert Heggheim Mannsverk is a doubt for this match having missed the last five fixtures. First-choice goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli has been missing since August with a shoulder problem.
Young centre back Ahmetcan Kaplan has been out for months and won’t play any part. Caretaker coach Maduro could freshen up the side. Steven Berghuis will surely be recalled and Chuba Akpom could replace Brian Brobbey up front. The Dutchman is on an eight-game goalless streak and may need a breather.
Both of these sides currently sit outside the top two in the group. Ajax would take a draw here to prevent their opponents from winning.
A more pragmatic approach may be seen because if the Dutch side opens up, Brighton could destroy them.
Brighton are winless in 5 matches (LLDDL).
Brighton’s 6 home matches this season have seen 26 goals (15 goals, 9 conceded)
Ajax are winless in eight matches with 5 losses.
Ajax have conceded 17 goals in their last 6 matches in all competitions.
This game will surely have plenty of goals. Brighton scores a lot but have some key injuries at the back. Ajax are leaking goals for fun and their attacking style could give the Seagulls loads of space. I see a home win.
Best Bet: Brighton win (-1 handicap) at 1.80
Alternate Bet: Over 3.5 goals at 1.86
High Value Bet: Brighton win + Over 3.5 goals + Fati anytime goalscorer at 4.01