Roberto De Zerbi has called on Brighton and Hove Albion fans to support “fantastic guy” Moises Caicedo after the midfielder failed to push through a move to Arsenal.
Brighton knocked back multiple bids from Premier League leaders Arsenal for Caicedo, who announced on social media last week he was looking to leave the club.
Caicedo was given time off but could return for Saturday’s match with Bournemouth at the Amex Stadium, where De Zerbi hopes the 21-year-old is given a positive reception.
“I am very happy Moises stays with us until the end of the season,” De Zerbi said. “I want to speak to our fans as I want them to support him.
“I don’t want them to criticise him. I love Moises, the people who work inside of Brighton love Moises. He’s a good guy.
“We need the performance of Moises and he’s a fantastic guy, so I don’t want to hear criticism or anything more.”
Brighton beat Liverpool in the FA Cup fourth round last weekend and are flying high in sixth place in the Premier League, despite drawing 2-2 against Leicester City last time out.
Bournemouth are in the final relegation spot, level on points with Wolves in 17th, but they will be feeling refreshed after two weeks off since drawing 1-1 with Nottingham Forest.
The Cherries brought in six new signings in the January window, which boss Gary O’Neill will hope can propel his side to safety.
“It was busy,” he said. “When you’re on the inside of it, you have knowledge of what’s going on, what’s in place. So, it was probably not as dramatic from my point of view.
“We had a plan that we set out to achieve in January. Everyone did a good job. We recruited in areas that we were looking to recruit in and added some quality to the group.
“It was a good month for us. If you look at the whole window, we were really clear in what we’re trying to do.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brighton – Evan Ferguson
Ferguson was lucky to escape serious injury following a shocking challenge from Liverpool’s Fabinho last week and is in contention to feature against Bournemouth. That is good news for De Zerbi as Republic of Ireland international Ferguson has three goals and two assists in just 198 Premier League minutes this season.
Bournemouth – Kieffer Moore
O’Neil may have strengthened his side last month but it is likely that Moore, who has featured in all 20 league games this season, will continue to lead the line. Thirteen of Moore’s 16 shots in the Premier League this season have come via headers (81 per cent) – the highest share of any player with at least 15 attempts.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Brighton won their last home league game against Bournemouth (2-0 in December 2019), ending a five-game winless run against the Cherries at home (D3 L2). They last won consecutive such games against them in February 2004 (a run of three).
– Bournemouth have lost just one of their last 12 league games against Brighton (W7 D4), going down 2-0 away from home in December 2019.
– Albion have won nine of their 19 Premier League games this season – only in 2021-22 (12) have they ever won more in a single campaign in the competition, and they did not reach their 10th victory until their 35th game in that season.
– Since the Premier League restarted after the World Cup break, Bournemouth have scored the fewest goals (1), won the joint-fewest points (1) and lost the joint-highest number of games (4). Meanwhile, only Everton (11) have conceded more than the Cherries in this time (10).
– Brighton have scored 37 Premier League goals this season, around seven more than their expected goals (xG) tally would suggest (29.8). Only Manchester City (10.9) and Tottenham (9.1) are overperforming their xG more than the Seagulls this season.