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Brighton & Hove Albion Preview (A) - December 29

Brighton & Hove Albion Preview (A) - December 29

WATFORD FINISH 2012 on Saturday afternoon as they take on Brighton and Hove Albion at the AmEx Stadium live on Sky.

The Hornets kick off at 17:20 as they take on the Sussex-based Play-Off hopefuls in their own back yard in their final N.Power Championship fixture of the year.

Following the Boxing Day washout at Bristol City, Gianfranco Zola's side will look to record back-to-back wins at the expense of Gus Poyet's outfit, who sit 10th in the table.

Consistency has been a big issue for Poyet's side this term; after winning five straight games at the end of August and into September, a winless run of four games leaves the Seagulls four places and three points outside the top-six.

Prior to their current run, Albion had enjoyed a seven-match unbeaten run through October and November.

Watford fan Craig Mackail-Smith is the club's top scorer this season, having already bettered his league tally of nine goals for last term.

With 10 league strikes from exactly 20 Championship matches, the Hemel Hempstead-born hitman has the idyllic one-in-two strike rate for the Albion.

A willing runner capable of leading the line on his own, the six-cap Scotland international became Albion's record signing when he joined for £3.25m from Peterborough United in the summer of 2011.

Eighty goals in 173 league starts for the Posh were enough to persuade Albion to part with the cash to sign the former St. Albans City, Arlesey Town and Dagenham and Redbridge forward who has scored once for his country.

Second to Mackail-Smith in Brighton's goal-scoring charts is former Watford winger, Will Buckley.

The Oldham-born 23 year-old joined Albion last season for a fee believed to be worth £1m, just 18 months after moving to Vicarage Road from Rochdale.

A traditional chalk-on-your-boots flying winger, Buckley has come into his own since moving to the AmEx Stadium after being somewhat flaky during his time in WD18.

Pacey and tricky, the six footer causes problems with his direct running and languid style, and will certainly give Marco Cassetti and Daniel Pudil food for thought as he switches flanks regularly.

Between the sticks there's another Hornet in former loanee, Tomasz Kusczak.

The 30 year-old Polish international opted to join the Seagulls on a free transfer over the summer after running down his contract at Manchester United following five largely dormant years.

After an initial season-long loan with the Red Devils, Kuszczak joined permanently from West Bromwich Albion in 2007 but made just 24 league starts during his time at Old Trafford.

A hugely-talent, agile, shot-stopper, the 11-cap Polish gloveman spent just over two months on-loan at the Vic' last term, immediately displacing Scott Loach and going on to make 13 league starts for Sean Dyche's side.

Only former Spanish international Vicente is out for Poyet's side, with the Uruguayan enjoying an otherwise clean bill of health within his ranks.

Watford are without John Eustace (back), Lloyd Doyley (calf), Nyron Nosworthy (hamstring), Prince Buaben (thigh), Fernando Forestieri (hamstring) and Jonathan Bond.

Ikechi Anya will continue at right wing-back following the Bristol City postponement as Marco Cassetti remains suspended.

Predicted line-ups:

Brighton & Hove Albion:
Kuszczak; Bruno, Greer (c), El-Abd, Bridge; Crofts, Hammond, Bridcutt, Lopez, Buckley; Mackail-Smith.

Watford: Almunia (c); Ekstrand, Hall, Hoban; Anya, Abdi, Hogg, Chalobah, Pudil; Deeney & Vydra.

Referee: Mr O Langford.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tom Bodell
Date:Friday December 28 2012
Time: 3:06PM

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