Brighton v West Ham preview- Roger East takes charge for first time since Doucoure handball controversy

West Ham will seek to become the first team outside the top four to win at the AMEX Stadium in the Premier League this weekend when they take on Chris Hughton’s Brighton on Saturday afternoon. This will also be referee Roger East’s first top flight game in charge following his controversial decision to allow Abdoulaye Doucoure’s late handball equaliser in the Watford v Southampton fixture last month.

The Hammers lost 3-0 in the reverse fixture to Brighton at the London Stadium earlier in the season, a result, one could say, played a big role in getting Slaven Bilic sacked. Brighton’s win that evening was their first away top flight win since 1983 and a gift to Chris Hughton in his 100th game in charge. It also marked the first time that West Ham had lost a Premier League fixture on a Friday.

Brighton West Ham

However the Seagulls are winless in the league in 2018 while West Ham’s midweek draw against Crystal Palace meant that they have gone unbeaten in their first five league games of the calendar year for the first time since 1974.

Like the Hammers, Brighton also drew in midweek, with Glenn Murray’s first half penalty cancelled out by Jack Stephens’ equaliser for Southampton.

The Seagulls could hand a full home debut to Leonardo Ulloa, who has joined them on loan from Leicester till the end of the season. West Ham made only two major signings in the winter window- Joao Mario on loan from Inter and Jordan Hugill from Preston North End, and the latter could make his maiden appearance on Saturday afternoon.

Hugill

Jiri Skala, Izzy Brown, Jurgen Locadia and Steve Sidwell are all sidelined for Brighton, while Pedro Obiang, Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll and Edimilson Fernandes are on the treatment table for the visitors. Arthur Masuaku will serve the second of a six game ban for spitting at Nick Powell in the FA Cup. Michail Antonio could return after missing the Palace game due to disciplinary reasons. If Winston Reid is fit enough to play, he is expected to replace Declan Rice in the Hammers’ back three.

Premier League newbies Brighton have been more than decent at home in the league this season, with only Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea getting the better of them at the Amex in 2017/18. West Ham have had a controversy filled buildup to this game, with a disappointing transfer deadline day where they missed out on several transfer targets (Dendoncker, Smolov, Amadou and Slimani) and allegations of racism surrounding recruitment chief Tony Henry after he was allegedly caught saying that “Africans cause mayhem”

Last five games for Brighton

Southampton 1-1 Brighton
Boro 0-1 Brighton
Brighton 0-4 Chelsea
WBA 2-0 Brighton
Brighton 2-1 Palace

Last five games for West Ham

West Ham 1-1 Palace
Wigan 2-0 West Ham
West Ham 1-1 Bournemouth
West Ham 1-0 Shrewsbury
Huddersfield 1-4 West Ham

Referee East has officiated one game involving the Hammers this season- their 1-0 win over Swansea. Brighton are yet to play a game with him in charge. Going into this fixture, West Ham are 12th in the table with 27 points while their opponents are three places down in 15th, with 24 points.

Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United kicks off on 3 February, 2018 at 15.00 UK

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