Albion fans hoping for Hyypiä times ahead

Seagulls fans heading north to the second city will be looking for signs that Sami Hyypiä’s new system is sinking in.

Sami_Hyypia_2012Seagulls fans heading north to the second city will be looking for signs that Sami Hyypiä’s new system is sinking in to the team’s collective conscience.

A disappointing opening-day defeat to Sheffield Wednesday saw eyebrows raised among some sections of the Amex faithful over a lack of attacking width - with a reliance on the team’s full-backs to provide attacking impetus.

St Andrew's proved a happy hunting ground for Hyypiä’s predecessor, with Oscar Garcia engineering a 1-0 win against Birmingham City at a similar stage last season, thanks to a well-taken Andrew Crofts goal.

The assist that day came from Kemy Agustien and the playmaker is likely to find himself involved again tomorrow as a result of a suspension to Crofts and an injury to Dale Stephens.

Whether he starts, however, remains to be seen. Agustien was again on the receiving end of some post-match criticism from sections of the Seagulls support in the wake of Tuesday’s Capital One Cup win over Cheltenham Town.

There has always been a feeling that Agustien is the type of player who would benefit from a run in the team in order to fine-tune and then maintain his sharpness. It is something of an open secret that the Albion are in the market for another attack- minded midfielder, suggesting the pressure is on Agustien to prove his worth over the coming games. He clearly has natural talent in abundance but will need to illustrate he is capable of marshalling it in a productive and consistent manner.

Inigo Calderon performed admirably enough at left-back against Sheffield Wednesday, while Adam Chicksen played well against an albeit toothless Cheltenham team, but securing the services of a genuine first choice left-sided defender has long been the Seagulls priority.

Birmingham City are notoriously poor on their home turf. In fact, the Blues only secured their first home win since October 1 earlier this week with their 3-1 extra time win over Cambridge United.

They had to rely on captain Phil Caddis’ 95th minute strike to edge them ahead before Mark Duffy added a third a short while later.

Like Brighton, Birmingham lost their first game of the season, ending on the wrong side of a 2-0 scoreline away at Middleborough in a game in which the Blues failed to register a single strike on their hosts’ goal.

Birmingham actually managed more league goals (58) than the Albion (55) last season despite finishing just one place above the dreaded drop zone. Brighton, however, leaked a massive 34 goals less than Brum in their 46 regular season games - a stat which explains the discrepancy in the clubs’ final positions when considering their goal tallies.

Craig Mackail-Smith, fresh from finding the net in the midweek cup win, will be hoping to get a first league start under Hyypiä while Birmingham’s chief threat will surely come from set pieces.

Likely line-up: (4-2-3-1) Stockdale, Calderon, Greer, Hughes, Bruno, Ince, Forster-Caskey, Toko, Mackail-Smith, March, Lua Lu.

Likely subs: Ankergren, Dunk, Chicksen, Agustien, Teixeira, O’Grady, Fenelon.