West Ham United travel to Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday looking for a crucial 3 points as they continue their pursuit of Champions League football next season.
The Hammers have enjoyed an exceptional campaign so far, particularly considering they were hovering all too close to the relegation zone last season.
In 2020/21, however, David Moyes side have really hit their stride and found a level of consistency which has eluded even some of the Premier League’s big-hitters in this unusual top flight season.
As such, West Ham have been in with a shout of a top 4 finish for a while now – currently sitting 6th in the standings and 6 points off 4th placed Chelsea.
It was defeat to the Blues a fortnight ago which really dented those European dreams, and with Liverpool and Leicester picking up victories over Manchester United since the Hammers last played, the shutter is slowly creeping down on that 4th spot.
The Hammers do have a game in hand – next Wednesday against already relegated West Brom – but with the fixtures running out a win on the South Coast is paramount to keep the Champions League flame flickering.
This weekend West Ham face a Brighton side who have been a match for the East Londoners on each of the last 4 Premier League occasions, with the Seagulls having never lost this fixture in the top flight.
Brighton can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their Premier League status has been secured for another season, with all 3 relegation places already confirmed.
However, they have dropped to 17th in the table following Southampton’s midweek success over Crystal Palace, and gaffer Graham Potter will be keen to ensure that they don’t stay there.
Brighton have a difficult run in, with Manchester City and Arsenal their final two top flight games after the clash with the Hammers on Saturday – it seems unlikely they will pick up victories in any of these fixtures considering they’ve only taken a full allocation on 8 different occasions this season.
West Ham are still sweating on the fitness of influential midfielder Declan Rice, who may make his return to the side this weekend after several weeks out with injury.
David Moyes may also welcome back Mark Noble, Manuel Lanzini, Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Creswell back in to the fray also.
Brighton meanwhile are missing Neal Maupay and Lewis Dunk due to suspension, with both players sent off in the defeat to Wolves last time out.
Tariq Lamptey, Joel Veltman, Davy Propper and Solly March all remain absent for Albion and won’t feature.
Brighton v West Ham kicks off at 8pm on Saturday 15th May.