Matchday 21 in the Premier League rounds off with Monday night’s clash at the Amex Stadium; we look ahead to Brighton vs Wolves with our preview and prediction.
Brighton vs Wolves Stats: The Quick Hits
- Brighton and Hove Albion are backed by the Opta supercomputer, defeating Wolves in 46.6% of pre-game simulations.
- Wolves have won each of their last three Premier League games, last winning four successive top-flight matches back in January 1972.
- However, Brighton have won their last four league games against Wolves.
Brighton and Wolves will both be hoping to boost their hopes of European football next season as the pair meet at the Amex Stadium on Monday to complete the Premier League’s Matchday 21 fixture list.
Gary O’Neil’s Wolves are unbeaten in five across all competitions, beating Chelsea, Brentford and Everton in the Premier League before winning their FA Cup third-round replay with Thomas Frank’s Bees on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw in the first meeting.
A 3-2 victory over Brentford at Molineux teed up a Black Country derby with West Bromwich Albion next Sunday in the FA Cup fourth round after Matheus Cunha’s 110th-minute penalty proved the difference in an extra-time win over Frank’s visitors. Cunha has been in fine form in Premier League action, too, after being involved in eight goals across his last nine top-flight appearances for Wolves (four goals, four assists), having registered just five goal contributions in his first 28 games for the club in the competition (four goals, one assist).
Brazilian forward Cunha will be expected to continue to step up in the absence of Hwang Hee-chan at the Asian Cup, with the South Korea international directly involved in 43.3% of Wolves’ 30 Premier League goals this term (10 goals, three assists), with only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (51.2%) and Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (46.4%) either scoring or assisting a higher share of their side’s goals.
O’Neil’s men are 11th in the league table but trail eighth-placed Brighton by just three points heading into the second weekend of MD 21 fixtures, though the Wolves manager will be without key midfielder João Gomes due to suspension. Algeria’s Rayan Aït-Nouri and Mali’s Boubacar Traoré are also away on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
While Wolves may harbour faint hopes of an unlikely UEFA Europa Conference League qualification with a push in the second half of the season, Brighton – already in the UEFA Europa League knockout stage this term – will fancy their chances further as they trail Arsenal and Tottenham in fourth and fifth respectively by nine points, sixth-placed West Ham United by three and Manchester United by one.
The Seagulls are unbeaten in their last three league games, defeating Spurs 4-2 either side of draws with Crystal Palace and West Ham, and progressed to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 4-2 victory over Stoke City after goals from defenders Pervis Estupiñán and Lewis Dunk as well as a João Pedro brace in their last outing.
João Pedro continues to be the reliant figure from 12 yards, too, scoring all eight of Brighton’s penalties in all competitions this season, meaning 53% of his goals have come from the spot (8/15). The Brazilian has also scored more penalty goals than any other Premier League player across all competitions this campaign.
Despite impressive returns in recent weeks, the team news is getting no better for De Zerbi. He continues to be without the injured Solly March, Simon Adingra, Kaoru Mitoma, Ansu Fati, Tariq Lamptey, Julio Enciso and Joël Veltman, though Igor Julio could return for Monday’s late kick-off.
Those injury issues mean De Zerbi will likely utilise Facundo Buonanotte, who against West Ham became the youngest player to create as many as four chances in a Premier League match since Callum Hudson-Odoi for Chelsea against Newcastle United in October 2019 (18y 346d). At the other end of the spectrum, James Milner made his 632nd Premier League appearance in Brighton’s last outing, moving level with Ryan Giggs in second for most games in the competition, with only Gareth Barry playing more (653).
Brighton vs Wolves Head-to-Head
Wolves’ head-to-head record against Brighton is woeful, losing their last four Premier League games and conceding three goals in each (16 in total) after Mitoma and Estupiñán scored before a March brace in a 4-1 away win in the reverse fixture this term. Hwang scored a consolation for the hosts before Matheus Nunes was sent off in stoppage time.
Only twice before have Wolves lost 5+ consecutive league games against an opponent and shipped 3+ goals each time – eight against Manchester City (1902-1909) and five against Blackpool (1927-1929) – while Brighton’s last four league wins in this fixture are as many as they had in their previous 19 combined (D10 L5).
Brighton manager De Zerbi has also won all three of his Premier League meetings with Wolves by an aggregate scoreline of 13-3, a stark contrast to O’Neil who has lost all three of his Premier League encounters against the Seagulls, with his sides (also including Bournemouth) conceding seven goals and scoring one in reply.
The visitors will need to watch out for Danny Welbeck on Monday as the Brighton striker has six goal involvements in eight Premier League starts against Wolves (four goals, two assists) and was one of three players to net a brace in this exact fixture last season as the south-coast club ran out 6-0 winners (also two goals for Pascal Groß and Deniz Undav).
While their woeful record against Brighton may be of concern, Wolves have won each of their last three Premier League games – against Everton, Brentford and Chelsea – though they have not recorded four successive top-flight triumphs since January 1972 under Bill McGarry.
O’Neil’s side are enjoying a much-needed winning streak but, owing to MD 21 scheduling and FA Cup commitments, could be caught cold given they have not played a league game since 30 December. This will be Wolves’ first top flight game of 2024, which marks the third latest a team has played their first Premier League game of a calendar year (excluding promoted sides), after Portsmouth in 2010 (January 26) and Manchester United in 2000 (January 24).
Meanwhile, Brighton drew 0-0 with West Ham in their last Premier League match, keeping their first clean sheet in the competition this season at the 20th time of asking. De Zerbi’s men last kept consecutive league shutouts in April/May 2023, one of which was the 6-0 home win over Wolves.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides:
Brighton vs Wolves Opta Player Ratings
Before kick-off in this match, here are the top five performing players from both teams in the 2023-24 Premier League according to the Opta Player Ratings:
Pascal Groß: 80.5 (out of 100)
Billy Gilmour: 75.8
Evan Ferguson: 72.9
Jan Paul van Hecke: 72.7
João Pedro: 68.2
Hwang Hee-chan: 71.1 (out of 100)
Max Kilman: 70.8
Matheus Cunha: 70.1
Craig Dawson: 69.6
Brighton vs Wolves Prediction
Taking into consideration their favourable head-to-head record, Brighton are backed by the Opta supercomputer in 46.6% of simulations to defeat Wolves, who are ranked at 24.8% to triumph at the Amex.
A draw would extend unbeaten runs for both sides, with that result coming in in 28.6% of 10,000 data-led predictions, though neither manager will set up for just a point.
In the end-of-season Opta predictions, Brighton finish seventh most often, doing so in 22.2% of simulations – one above their current league position – while Wolves are expected to remain in their position of 11th in 19.6% of data-predicted scenarios.