Q&A With Brighton & Hove Albion

  • February 12, 2016 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/1f251

Chris Field shares the Brighton & Hove Albion view on hopes of automatic promotion, Bolton's emerging youth talent, as well as the death of Phil Gartside.

Neil Lennon's side make their longest journey of the season on Saturday, when they face the Seagulls at the Amex Stadium, looking to continue a recent upturn in form that has seen them move off the foot of the Championship table.

In our latest edition of Q&A, we have got the views of Chris (@chrisfield25).

Q: Back in September, you refused to be drawn on whether Chris Hughton was capable of leading Brighton into the Premier League. Five months on, Albion look good for a play-off place and are just four points off top spot. So, revisiting our original question, what do you see happening between now and the end of the season?

A: We've had a good season so far, haven't we?! I think back then it was just about getting a good start and a bit of a barometer of what the Championship would be like and I feel quite comfortable as it is at the moment.

We had an incredible start and 23 games (I think!) unbeaten was an unbelievable effort by the club - it will take a LONG time to beat that at this level. We've had our little wobble or slump of form but in the last three games we certainly seem we're back to the way we were at the start of the season.

If rumours are true, the usually calm and collected Chris Hughton gave the players the hairdryer treatment with all of the fillings after the loss at Rotherham United. Since then we've won three in a row, all against sides with decent form and not to be sniffed at (Blackburn Rovers, Huddersfield Town & Brentford). I think the Brentford result was huge for us because, despite our good form, it was actually the first time this season we had won by more than one goal. That's the Championship for you!

I said a while ago, I felt that the top five (Middlesborough, Hull City, Derby County, Burnley & ourselves) would be the top five in any order and then 6th place is left to play for. I still think that's the case 100%.

In terms of final position for us, I really think we could take one of the automatic promotion spots. No one's talking about us (just as in the first half of the season) and that suits us perfectly.

Q: Tomer Hemed began the campaign with a glut of goals and is joint-top of the scoring charts at the Amex Stadium, alongside Bobby Zamora. However, with just two strikes to his name since October, combined with Zamora's ageing legs regularly restricting him to a substitutes' role, who should Wanderers fans be fearful of when it comes to defending our own box?

A: I think those two are two potential threats - Zamora more so in front of goal.

I'm a big fan of Hemed but he's not a natural goalscorer, but his work rate and link up play is superb. Zamora is the man in front of goal, every single one of his goals have been in and around the six-yard box but that's exactly what we've been missing.

James Wilson is another threat which I'm sure Bolton will be fully aware of. The Manchester United loanee had been recovering from a fairly bad illness (believed to be glandular fever) so it's taken him a bit of time to get back to something like his best. He's always worth a shout for a goal, because I really think he'll make it to the top.

Anthony Knockaert will be another to look out for. Very possibly the signing of the season at a mere £1.6m, but arguably the best winger in the division. The former Leicester City wide man scored his first for Brighton against Brentford, after doing quite literally everything BUT score in his previous few games.

For me though, my money to score is on Dale Stephens. A local guy to Bolton and scored at the Macron in September. He's the man to score goals from midfield, but he's not scored for a little while. Between him and Beram Kayal, they've played so much football this season and they've looked a bit tired lately. But football is that old cliche - the local lad ends up scoring against his home club.

Q: News of Phil Gartside's death filtered through on Wednesday, putting another downer on a club that has seemingly suffered nothing but bad times over the last five years. Did you have an opinion on the man himself, and do you think the news will have any impact on the performance of Bolton's players?

A: It was really sad news to hear on Wednesday afternoon and I'd like to offer our sincerest condolences to friends, family and anyone associated with Bolton Wanderers.

It's never something nice to hear when someone has passed away, let alone someone with a long evolvement with. Personally, I really don't know much about the man other than he was with Bolton for a very long time (most of my life in fact) and just looking at the club in the time he was in charge, they've done pretty well.

In terms of the money troubles that Wanderers seem to be suffering at the present time, I honestly don't know if that was on Mr Gartside's side or not. I've heard a few contradicting stories from Bolton fans. Like I said, it's not nice to lose anyone but if it is going to have the slightest positive then it would be onto the players to motivate them a bit more to get a win in the next game.

It's certainly not going to be an easy game for us, but rest assured that Brighton as a club and our fans will make sure that Mr Gartside will get a fitting tribute.

Q: Whether they retain their Championship status or not, Wanderers look set to lose a number of key players over the summer months. From what you have seen over the course of the campaign, who, if anybody, would you like to see swap the North West for the south coast?

A: An old enemy in Max Clayton would be good. I say that purely because, as I said on the previous couple of interviews, I've played against him and he scored.

I know he's been struggling with injuries but between him and Zach Clough, you've got some talented front men.

I know Josh Vela has been subject to interest for a few clubs and he seems quite a useful player. Other than that, please don't take offence but I can't think of many more.

Q: Finally, what is your score prediction for Saturday's game?

A: Always the bit I hate the most, but I'm generally quite accurate. Like I said previously, this certainly won't be an easy game.

Ignoring Mr Gartside's passing, you've been in pretty good form of late and lifting yourselves off the bottom with the late win against Rotherham will be a huge morale boost.

I'm forever the optimist but I could see a draw if I'm honest, IF you get the first goal. The first goal in our games is so vital, but I think if we do get it then I'm going to go for a 3-1 win for Brighton - with Stephen Dobbie the Brighton pantomime villain scoring for Wanderers.

Burnden Aces would like to thank Chris for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more from him on Twitter - @chrisfield25.

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
7 Plymouth Argyle 46 80
8 Oxford United 46 76
9 Bolton Wanderers 46 73
10 Portsmouth 46 73
11 Ipswich Town 46 70
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