The fear of relegation is real for Brighton & Hove Albion fans - Scott McCarthy

Brighton keeper Mathew Ryan is unable to keep out Ashley Barnes penalty on Saturday. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Brighton keeper Mathew Ryan is unable to keep out Ashley Barnes penalty on Saturday. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Come on then – who’s getting nervous? Have you become a quivering wreck whenever you have the misfortune to come across the Premier League table?

Are you considering filing for time off sick with stress as Cardiff City’s points total creeps ever closer to Brighton’s?

Have you spent an entire Sunday predicting every single result involving the bottom half of the league between now and the end of the season and working out all the permutations about who will finish where? Are you waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat after having a nightmare about a Tuesday night in Rotherham in January 2020? Does the ghost of 1983 stalk your every move?

If the answer to any of these is yes, then don’t worry. You’re suffering from what is called Fear of Relegation, something that the Albion have done their level best to inflict on a huge number of sufferers in the Sussex area by winning just one of their past 11 league games.

For there is no doubt about it. Brighton are now in a relegation battle. The dreaded dotted line that will consign three clubs to the Championship is now just three points behind the Albion, a worrying fact given that two months ago there was a huge gap of 12 to the drop zone.

All of a sudden, trips to Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Luton Town – if they were to win promotion – are looking a very real possibility.

There is some hope to cling to though and it comes from taking a look at who is still to come to the Amex this season. Four of Brighton’s next five home games are against teams below them in the table, with Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Southampton and Newcastle United all to visit over the next ten weeks. Bournemouth, sitting pretty in 11th but with ten away defeats to their name, are the other opponents.

That is an extremely generous run in. The very minimum that Brighton should be targeting from those five games is 13 points – four wins and a draw. That would push them onto 40 points, the traditional survival target.

Between them, those five opponents have won just 11 times on the road this season. They’ve got a combined 39 defeats. Only Southampton are averaging a goal a game on their travels, the other four falling well short.

While it’s a well-worn cliché to say there are no easy games in the Premier League, there are – and these are five of them. Chris Hughton could not have asked for five better opponents to face at home for vital points in the quest for Premier League survival.

Of course, it doesn’t always work like that. At the weekend, we saw Burnley score only their 11th, 12th and 13th away goals of the season and pick up only their third win.

Seasoned Seagull observers will tell you that if there is one team who can mess up a seemingly straight forward task, then it is Brighton.

And if the Albion do fail to gain the requisite number of points from those home games, then they will deserve to be relegated. If you can’t beat four of the worst teams in the division (and Bournemouth) on your own home patch, you really shouldn’t be rubbing shoulders with the best clubs in the top league in the country.

Everything is set up for the Albion to survive. The Fear of Relegation may be real, but if it claims us all then Hughton and his team have nobody to blame but themselves. Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.


Fantasy football tips: Liverpool, Manchester City, West Ham, Tottenham and Manchester United players recommended for the run-in

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