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Where North meets South: Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Leeds United

Friday 9th December 2016
Two of the Championship's early contenders for promotion to the Premier League go head to head in a colossal meeting. The West Yorkshire club faces a 500+ round trip from Elland Road to the AMEX for this marquee Friday night game between second and fourth in the league.

The Championship is one of the unusual anomalies of European football; whilst the second tier of football, it has a unique following. Attendances are usually high; and whilst hard to measure, atmospheres often rival the Premier League. Whilst the Championship is a well-followed division, it still resonates with an aura of purgatory-like quicksand. It's hard to get out and there's a certain method to do it: quickly. Once you're there don't dwindle or stagnate. The most successful routes out of the Championship are the quick ones. Southampton, Manchester City and Norwich City all famously went through the second tier – but didn't stop. They achieved back-to-back promotions from the League 1, the Championship and then Premier League. Brighton has never been in the Premier League, something they are looking to change at the end of this campaign, whilst Leeds are still enduring their twelve-year exile from the top tier.
Leeds United's last win against the Seagulls, on the opening day of the 13/14 season.

The home side comes into this game with quite the swagger and confidence. They've earned it too. Sitting second in the league, there are lots of reasons why the Seagulls are flying high. Defensively sound at the back: David Stockdale has kept eleven clean sheets from the eighteen games he's played all season. The rest of the back is led by Spanish veteran right-back, Bruno, who's been ever present for the side this campaign. The two of them have made Brighton's defence the best in the league.

They also provide a very fair attacking prowess: they've scored twenty-eight goals so far – the second best in the league, only behind league leaders, Newcastle. They've got two players to thank for this, Glenn Murray, the on-loan striker is one of them. He's the league's second highest scorer with eleven goals from his nineteen appearances. Although slightly more pivotal has been the contributions of former Leicester man: Anthony Knockaert. On five separate occasions, his goals have been the winning edge Brighton needed to tip the game in their favour.
Brighton's 3-0 win and clinical performance earlier in the season. It's been this type of play which has put them in second position.

The visiting side, Leeds United, also visit in high spirits. They've won their last two games and put up a spirited performance against Liverpool in the cup. This Leeds United side has shown a real determination and never say die attitude this campaign. This is shown by their goal tally after 90 minutes, having scored the most after the regulation time. Kiwi International, Chris Wood, has played a significant part in the West Yorkshire club's successes so far. He's scored ten goals this season and scored in consecutive league games. The team have enjoyed their travels this season too, having won at Molineux, Carrow Road and the New York Stadium – in their last three away games.

It's too early to call the game a six-pointer but both teams will have a real desire to win this game. For Brighton it's about showing Newcastle they can keep up with the former Premier League giants. Leeds United with a win still wouldn't be able to gain an automatic promotion spot, but show the rest of the division they mean business this year.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Leeds United is live on Sky Sports - Friday, 7:45pm

Warren Smith

A British and J.League soccer enthusiast, now local to Yokohama, Japan. A keen Arsenal supporter. Has been known to play the game every once in awhile, once likened to Xherdan Shaqiri. 

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