Chris Hughton is having to improvise in order to cope with a shortage of strikers at Brighton, which means there could be some cracking value in backing Steve Sidwell to find the net for the Seagulls at the City Ground. Take Bet365’s standout 22/1 quote about the 33-year-old midfielder breaking the deadlock and back it up with a bet on Sidwell to score anytime at 9/1.
Almost two years have passed since the former Fulham man last found his name on the scoresheet but that’s more down to his struggle for first-team opportunities than any reflection of his finishing ability. Sidwell has made only nine league starts since chipping in with 11 goals across two Premier League campaigns for the Cottagers.
However, one of those starts - his fourth in Brighton colours - came at Birmingham last week when he was asked to play as a second striker behind Tomer Hemed in a 4-4-1-1 formation. By Hughton’s own admission, it took Sidwell a while to get into the swing of it but you’d expect a player of his experience to produce a more polished display second time around.
Injuries to Sam Baldock and Bobby Zamora have left Hughton with just two fit strikers (Hemed and James Wilson) but the Albion boss sees an opportunity among his plethora of central midfielders to camouflage the problem. Sidwell has waited patiently for his chance since joining on loan from Stoke but it’s now apparent that he’s never going to dislodge the excellent Dale Stephens-Beram Kayal axis.
Besides, playing 90 minutes in the engine room, week in, week out, is probably beyond him nowadays but he was always a player who liked to break into the box, hitting double figures for Reading in his last Championship campaign a decade ago, and here is a compromise that might just enable him to rediscover that aspect of his game without his age being a major concern.
Either way, you would expect Brighton to be among the goals in light of Forest’s recent defensive woes. The Reds have gone to pot since dispensing with Dougie Freedman in search of something a bit more cavalier, although a 2-1 defeat at Reading six days ago was a vast improvement on the horror show of a 3-0 reverse against struggling Brentford in their last home game.
Michael Mancienne and Kelvin Wilson are both doubtful with injuries, although Eric Lichaj will return from suspension. Long-term shot data appears to suggest the value is with the Reds but the current dynamics of poor form, low pressure, disgruntled fans and fresh rumours of interference over team selection by owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi makes for a pretty unappealing cocktail.
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