Six things we learned from Brighton & Hove Albion v Burnley

Glenn Murray confronts the officials at the final whistle. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Glenn Murray confronts the officials at the final whistle. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Brighton's winless run in the Premier League increased to six games when they lost at home to Burnley yesterday. Here's six things we learned from the game.

In a relegation dogfight

Ashley Barnes scores from the penalty spot. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Ashley Barnes scores from the penalty spot. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Brighton boss Chris Hughton recently said Albion were still in a relegation battle - and there's no doubt they are now after yesterday's defeat to Burnley.

The Seagulls had appeared to be comfortable in the Premier League a few weeks ago. A 3-1 win at home to arch rivals Crystal Palace at the beginning of December saw Albion sit 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

They had 21 points from 15 games at the time but a run of six points from 11 matches leaves them only three points above the drop zone.

Just three points separates third-from-bottom Southampton and 13th-placed Crystal Palace. With Fulham and Huddersfield looking doomed, it leaves the final relegation spot to be taken by one of the six sides immediately above them.

Albion are in desperate need of a league win to kick-start their season and get confidence back to ensure they seal a third successive campaign in the top flight.

Soft goals becoming a problem

Brighton have conceded too many soft goals in recent weeks and that is a trend they have to quickly put a stop to.

Albion have made it hard for the top teams to score against them but have conceded four to Fulham - all in the second half - and now three to Burnley in recent weeks.

Only Liverpool (five) and Chelsea (four) had scored more than two at the Amex before yesterday since Albion came into the Premier League.

The uncharacteristic nature of the goals will also be a concern for Chris Hughton. The four goals at Fulham were all poor from a defensive point of view and Albion will be disappointed with all three goals yesterday as well.

Brighton kept ten clean sheets in 38 Premier League games last season but have managed just five in 26 matches this season. They need to become hard to score against again to turn their form around.

Crucial moment

Things might have been very different for Albion had VAR been in use in the Premier League this season.

The pivotal incident in the game came at 2-0 when Brighton had a penalty appeal waved away when Jeff Hendrick appeared to usher the ball away from Glenn Murray with his arm.

Seconds later, Burnley were on the attack and Ashley Barnes was fouled by Mathew Ryan and the Clarets were awarded a spot-kick. Barnes netted from the spot to seal all three points for the visitors.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton felt it was a key moment in the game and afterwards said: "We have a referee who was ten yards away and a linesman who needs to help him out. For me, it wasn't a difficult one to see.

"That then does give them momentum to go up the other end. If we were to have that penalty which we should have done and score it, it's 2-1 and we are back in the game."

Familiar faces come back to haunt Albion

Former Brighton strikers Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood came back to haunt the Seagulls at the Amex yesterday.

The duo formed a formidable partnership with Glenn Murray at the Seagulls in the 2010/11 title-winning season from League One.

Murray led the way with 22 goals, while Barnes notched 20 and Wood, on loan from West Brom, struck nine times.

Barnes left Albion to join Burnley in 2014 after scoring 53 goals in 170 matches for the Seagulls.

Wood moved to the Clarets from Leeds in August, 2017 and has since scored 17 Premier League goals.

Yesterday, Barnes set up Wood for the Clarets' opener before Wood side-footed home the second just past the hour.

Barnes then and scored the penalty to make it 3-0 to register his first goal playing against the Seagulls in his career.

Out of luck

Things haven't gone for Brighton attacking-wise in the last three Premier League games.

Away to Fulham, Davy Propper crashed an effort against the bar which would have made it 3-0 just before half-time. Had it gone in, would Fulham still have produced their incredible comeback?

Last week at home to Watford, Ben Foster was in inspired form in goal and produced several outstanding saves.

Yesterday, Tom Heaton was in similar form and made three excellent saves before Burnley went ahead.

Albion are creating enough chances to win games and just need to be more clinical in the final third to get back to winning ways.

March looks season-defining

Whichever way you look at it, March will be a season-defining month for Brighton.

The Seagulls' three home games are all against sides below them in the table, Huddersfield, Cardiff and Southampton, and their only away match is away to arch rivals Crystal Palace.

Brighton will want an absolute minimum of seven points from those games to somewhat ease any nerves that they're going to get dragged into the bottom three.

Home games are also to come against Bournemouth and Newcastle and it will be their form at the Amex which ultimately determines Albion's fate this season.

With the final two games of the season at Arsenal and at home to Manchester City, Brighton will want to have survival secured before they get to May.


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