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Southampton boss Mark Hughes is hoping that the international break will not have disrupted his side’s recent momentum when they return to action against Brighton on Monday Night Football.
After taking just one point from their opening three Premier League games, Southampton put together successive wins before the international action got under way at the start of September.
So’ton vs Brighton
September 17, 2018, 7:00pm
Hughes, whose team beat Brighton in the Carabao Cup and then won at Crystal Palace in the league, felt the break was disruptive.
“We just started to get into a bit of form, in my view, and it’s always a little bit frustrating that as the season starts to get going there’s a break and 10 days where you haven’t got your full squad together – and that can frustrate you,” he said.
“But it would have been more frustrating if we’d gone into the break on the back of a poor result.
“I think the last couple of games we’ve seen the group come together and get their levels where they need to be and as a consequence our performances have improved.”
If the south-coast club are to emerge victorious on Monday, then they will need to keep in-form Brighton striker Glenn Murray quiet at St Mary’s.
The Englishman was singled out for praise by Hughes in midweek after scoring three goals in four Premier League games.
And with summer-signing Florin Andone in line to make his Brighton debut alongside Murray on Monday evening, Brighton now have good competition for places in attack, according to manager Chris Hughton.
“He has been good, Glenn,” Hughton said. “It’s something that we’re used to, he goes about his business the right way. He knows what his strengths are.
“Particularly at his age, he prepares himself and looks after himself as well as any professional. And that gives him a chance.
“What we have at the moment, with Andone playing [on Friday for the U23s], is real good competition. I think that type of competition is good for all our team, and particularly for our front players. Glenn has benefited from that.”
Hughes expects to have striking trio Charlie Austin, Shane Long and Danny Ings available to face Brighton. Austin (hamstring) and Long (toe) have been absent from training this week, while Ings has been suffering with a blister.
Saints have no other selection concerns and could stick with the team which won at Palace before the international break.
Meanwhile, Andone and Jose Izquierdo could make their first appearances of the season on Monday. Romania forward Andone has been sidelined with a groin problem, while Colombia winger Izquierdo has been building his fitness following his involvement in the World Cup.
Hughton has no selection concerns ahead of the trip to St Mary’s, with defenders Bruno and Lewis Dunk available following their recent injury problems.
- Both Premier League meetings between these two sides finished 1-1 last season, with Murray netting in both for Brighton
- Southampton have lost just one of their last eight matches in all competitions against Brighton (W3 D4 L1), losing 0-3 in January 2012
- Southampton have won four and lost none of their six Premier League home matches against fellow south coast opposition
- Brighton have won just 11 points from a possible 63 in Premier League away games (W2 D5 14) – 22 points fewer than they’ve picked up at the Amex (W8 D9 L4)
- Southampton are winless in their last 10 Premier League games played on a Monday (W0 D3 L7)
- Hughes is looking to win back to back Premier League games for the first time since January 2017 with Stoke – he has managed 51 league games since then and won 12, but never in consecutive games
- Hughton has won only once in his nine previous managerial contests with Southampton (D5 L3).
- Southampton have now missed four of their last seven penalties in the Premier League, as many as they missed in their first 63 in the competition
- Southampton striker Austin has scored more goals in all competitions versus Brighton than he has against any other side (7), including netting in the EFL Cup against them this season
- Murray has scored four goals in five league starts for Brighton against Southampton
I’m going for a home win. Brighton have a habit of letting me down, especially away from home. It’s a strange record as they play with such confidence at the Amex – they are a force. I think they get caught between sticking and twisting on the road – it’s hard to pick up points away in the Premier League.
Danny Ings might be the difference. I like him. He’s a good player. England could do a lot worse than taking a look at him.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (8/1 with Sky Bet)