Johnny Cantor: Momentum will be useful with relegation scrap set to go down to the wire

Albion players celebrate the winning goal against Newcastle last month. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Momentum. It’s a word often used by pundits as teams pursue their goals. I think it is actually more difficult for most Premier League sides than for some lower down the pyramid.

I have often discussed the marathon that is EFL football but newly promoted sides such as Brighton and Hove Albion and Huddersfield are experiencing the glory but also the stop-start nature of the highest league in the country for the first time.

This weekend is the second of three International breaks in the first 13 weeks of the season. It can work out well for managers who have extra time for injured players to return but others may lose members of their squad to injury while they head off to play games for their country elsewhere.

If you are on a roll then you just want to keep playing but realistically teams in the bottom half of the table will struggle to find that elusive momentum as they take on the top sides.

However, wait for December. There are eight games from December 2 to January 1. So what does all this mean? Well Albion will have played 22 matches by the time the full-time whistle blows against AFC Bournemouth on New Year’s Day.

The fate of some teams may well be a long way to being determined by the time some of us vow to stop drinking for a month. Once you’re struggling it’s difficult to get out of the spin in the Premier League and despite the January transfer window, the FA Cup just tips up to give teams something else to think about. Don’t get me wrong I love the FA Cup, I love the chance to watch non-league games as the top two divisions take a break but you can’t just turn league form on and off like a tap.

If you look at the statistics over the past decade, in some years teams have stayed up with 40 points, others have required just 35. For the record the average is 37.5.

The lowest total for a team that stayed up over the last 10 years was 35 points. Our BBC Sussex Sport summariser Warren Aspinall may trip up with the odd name but he is excellent with maths and he believes this season a team could preserve its top-flight status with one of the lowest totals ever.

That may be an assessment of the quality of some teams in the Premier League but it also gives most clubs hope right until the final day. The Seagulls have averaged a point per game so far and that could be enough but much like their encounters with Man City and Arsenal they must remain ‘in the game’ for as long as possible.

Chris Hughton’s squad have arguably the hardest run-in, culminating with a home game against Manchester United and a trip to Liverpool on the final day. You feel the Albion may have to win at least 11 games and as they take down the Christmas decorations they may well have to have more than 22 points on the table.

Momentum would be useful at any stage but after the international break in March, yes there is another one, there are just seven matches remaining. From what I’ve seen in the first seven games, it could well go down to the wire.

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