David John backs Brighton to keep up their good start to the Premier League season with victory over Stoke on Monday night.
Brighton v Stoke (2000 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League)
It is difficult to gauge exactly what you will get from week to week when it comes to Stoke City but two matches without defeat is their best spell since the beginning of September and a foundation of sorts for them to build on in a bid to start climbing up the table.
As feeble as their displays were against Manchester City and Bournemouth in the middle of last month, they showed the exact opposite in terms of determination and spirit to winkle out a narrow triumph at Watford then twice come from behind to force a draw with Leicester.
The Potters under Mark Hughes still strike me as a ‘safety first’ outfit with a reluctance to try and outplay their opponent but the manager has spoken this week of unleashing trump card Xherdan Shaqiri to greater effect over the next few months now the Swiss midfielder has a World Cup finals to look forward to next summer.
Injuries and an attempt to live up to expectations have rather hampered the gifted Shaqiri but he remains very much the difference maker for his team and if Hughes does go with him and a very lively Ramadan Sobhi from the start, it will be fascinating to see how they go about challenging Brighton’s extremely well-organised backline.
Shaqiri’s World Cup delight will have been equalled by Shane Duffy’s misery but it is back to the day job for the Republic Of Ireland international.
He and Lewis Dunk have been superb for Chris Hughton and major reasons why they sit comfortably inside the top half of the table on a run that has seen them lose just once in six Premier League fixtures.
Bookmakers and punters are now starting to take them seriously and it is no surprise they are favourite here for another three points - and a nicely-backed one too as they attempt to notch victory number four already this season at the Amex Stadium.
There was not a great deal between themselves and Swansea last time out bar Glenn Murray being in the right spot to bundle home a beautiful Anthony Knockaert centre but Hughton does not care at this stage about style points or the fact Luciano Narsingh’s fierce late drive was three inches away from the equaliser.
The excellent Hughton does not strike me as a manager to get too carried away with their lofty current perch so I feel his more reliable approach currently than that of the in-and-out visitors can pay dividends for punters.
Prediction: Brighton 2-1 Stoke (Sky Bet's scoreline odds: 9/1)
Recommended bet: Monday Premier League
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Posted at 1600 BST on 19/11/17.