West Ham v Brighton
Sunday 27 December, 14:15
Live on Sky Sports
West Ham went into Christmas lying 10th in the Premier League table, having started the festive period on a low note with Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Chelsea.
This week marks the first anniversary of David Moyes’s return to the London Stadium for his second stint as manager and he has made good progress, having taken over with the Hammers in 17th and only a point clear of the relegation zone.
Moyes is likely to revert to a more attacking line-up for this home match, bringing back Said Benrahma in place of Mark Noble.
Arthur Masuaku remains sidelined, while Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio are getting close to returning from their hamstring injuries but may not be ready yet.
Seagulls close to drop zone
Brighton have been hovering just above the relegation zone and went into Christmas in 17th place, having been overtaken by revived Burnley.
Graham Potter’s side have been trying to play an expansive game but just two wins in the first 14 matches has given them little breathing space above the drop zone.
Tariq Lamptey is still out, with Joel Veltman set to deputise again at right-back.
West Ham’s overall form is solid, having lost only to title contenders Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea since opening the season with back-to-back defeats by Newcastle and Arsenal.
Since those two early losses, their record against teams outside the pre-Christmas top six is W5 D2 L0.
The Hammers’ scoring record is good too, with blanks only against Newcastle on the opening day and Chelsea in their latest match. That scoring rate could be a crucial factor here against the low-scoring visitors.
Brighton have promised a little more than they have delivered this season, having been held back mainly by a lack of cutting edge.
Danny Welbeck has started to help in that respect with a couple of important goals, but still Potter’s side have scored nil or one in eight of their last nine games.
The only exception in that run was the 2-1 away win at Aston Villa and their only other league victory was another freer-scoring performance on the road when they won 3-0 at Newcastle.
Those wins have not been followed up with the same scoring consistency, with only four goals scored in their other five away matches.
West Ham’s more potent attack gives them the edge and they look pretty good value at 2.466/4 given their recent good run against teams outside the elite.
West Ham rank high for over 2.5 goals, with nine of their 14 games (64%) having gone that way.
Two of the exceptions were 1-0 wins against low-scoring strugglers Fulham and Sheffield United, however, and Brighton look like a drag on the scoring potential.
Potter’s side started the season with four straight games over 2.5 goals but they have tightened up since then and six of the last 10 have had unders.
The market is tight for overs/unders and the inclination would be to go with over 2.5 goals at 21/1.
It is worth considering a West Ham win with over 2.5 goals scored.