Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Monday April 16 2012
WATFORD HEAD to Sussex this Tuesday to make their first visit to the AmEx Stadium, the new home of Brighton and Hove Albion.
The Seagulls head into this game off the back of a 6-0 drubbing at Sam Allardyce's West Ham United. Watford will be hoping to face a beast resigned to it's fate rather than the proverbial wounded animal on the backlash.
Either way, it promises to be a tough ask for Sean Dyche's side who are heading into battle with a side who still retain faint hopes of reaching the Play Offs - five point off with three to play.
Whether or not Poyet's side do eventually secure a top-six spot or not it has been a triumphant return to the second-tier for the Seagulls.
After romping to the League One title last season you would have been forgiven for forgetting that the Sussex-based outfit had ever been away.
An impressive unbeaten start to the season has been followed up with an equally spectacular remainder of the campaign, never truly falling out of touch of the top-six spots.
Everything is in place at Albion for sustained success. With a highly-rated young manager leading the charge from the front, backed up by a wealthy supporter in Tony Bloom and roared on vociferously by a sell out AmEx things are looking forward rather than backwards on the south coast.
It's fair to say that the Albion squad holds no room for ego's or perceived 'superstars' but if there is one man who could fit that bill, it's former Valencia and Spain magician, Vicente.
At just 30, the Valencia-born playmaker is by no means past it, and although horrendous injury problems have halted his progress in recent years, a brace against Portsmouth a month ago highlighted the danger he carries.
The other side of the coin is of course the nine starts and five substitute appearances made all season.
Up front top-scorer Ashley Barnes was captured from Plymouth Argyle's reserves and is much more indicative of the transfer policy under Poyet and Bloom - a real focus on investing in hungry young players.
The 22 year-old striker hit four goals in as many starts on loan in 2010 before penning a permanent deal. Since then the Bath-born forward has smashed in another 28 league goals in just 64 starts.
Three years at Plymouth yielded just two league goals in 15 starts; Barnes' Albion record certainly highlights the value of putting faith in someone you believe in.
Albion's second-highest scoring is Craig Mackail-Smith. The Hemel Hempstead-born Watford fan has hit nine goals in his first season in Sussex.
That tally might not be overly impressive but his workrate, assists and link-up play have helped to justify the £3.25m paid to Peterborough last summer to make him Albion's record signing.
A Scottish international thanks to his grandparents, Mackail-Smith has an eye-watering 127 league strikes in 303 starts for Dagenham & Redbridge, the Posh and Brighton.
Poyet is without long-term absentee Tommy Elphick due to an achilles problem whilst winger Craig Noone returned from the bench at West Ham. Joe Mattock could return to the defence following injury.
Watford have defensive issues with Martin Taylor potentially sidelined and Adrian Mariappa suspended. If Taylor does miss out, Dale Bennett will partner Nyron Nosworthy at the back.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Brezovan; Calderon, Greer (c), El-Abd, Painter; Navarro, Bridcutt; Assulin, Dicker, Vicente; Barnes.
Watford: Kuszczak; Doyley, Bennett, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Eustace (c), Hogg; Garner, Buaben, Murray; Deeney.
Referee: Mr C Pawson.P
Date:Monday April 16 2012
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