Six things we learned from Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham
Brighton returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over West Ham last night. Here's six things we learned from the game.
Murray delivers again
Glenn Murray continued his outstanding form in front of goal as he netted his fifth Premier League goal of the season - and 17th in just over a season.
The striker turned 35 last month and is now just one away from a century of Brighton goals, across his two spells with the club.
The talk after the match was again about whether Murray deserves an England call-up. While Gareth Southgate looks to give youth their chance, there is little doubt that Murray has done more than enough to deserve a call-up in the past 18 months.
Whether it comes or not, Murray could easily pass last season's total of 12 Premier League goals for the Seagulls this season.
A different dimension
Alireza Jahanbakhsh got his first Premier League start last night and Jose Izquierdo came off the bench to make just his second appearance of the season.
Jahanbakhsh is pacy and direct and there are clear signs he will become a key player for Albion when he gets accustomed to the Premier League.
All Brighton fans know what Izquierdo can bring and he came on to loud cheers from the Amex faithful last night.
In a 20-minute outing, he brought a lot of energy and his pace caused West Ham problems down the left. He could have had an assist had Jurgen Locadia - maybe harshly - not been flagged for offside when his shot was saved.
The pace of Jahanbakhsh and Izquierdo brings a different dimension going forward and gives Chris Hughton some real options on the wings, as the duo battle for a starting place with Anthony Knockaert and Solly March.
Strength in depth
Albion were lucky with injuries last season as Chris Hughton had a full-strength squad to choose from for much of the campaign.
The club strengthened their squad in the summer and there is no doubt this is the best squad Brighton have had in their history.
Hughton has already called upon several of the squad, owing to injuries to Pascal Gross, Dale Stephens and briefly Lewis Dunk this season.
Davy Propper also limped off last night and the Seagulls' back-up players are more than holding their own.
Leon Balogun impressed in Dunk's absence, Beram Kayal has been superb in central midfield in place of Stephens and you can see the potential in Yves Bissouma.
Solly March was also a threat in the number ten role last night, with Gross still out.
A welcome shut-out
It was a much welcome first clean sheet of the season for Brighton last night.
By their own admission, the Seagulls had conceded too many goals, 13, in their opening seven Premier League games. Admittedly, Albion have already met all of last season's top four but the manner of some of the goals conceded had been a disappointment, after how strong Brighton were defensively last season.
Last night, Chris Hughton returned to the regular back four from the past couple of seasons - Bruno, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and Gaetan Bong.
Dunk was back to his best and produced a man-of-the-match performance, alongside Shane Duffy, after the duo signed new long-term contracts yesterday.
Keeper Mathew Ryan only had straight-forward shots to deal with and Albion will need to continue to defend like this during a key couple of months.
Fortune on Albion's side
Luck was maybe on Albion's side last night as West Ham missed two glorious chances to equalise in the second half.
Fabian Balbuena got away from his man but wastefully headed wide from inside the six-yard box from Felipe Anderson's corner and the Hammers had an equally good chance to level in the final minute.
Lucas Perez pulled the ball back for Marko Arnautovic but the striker, leaning back, fired over from just six yards.
West Ham boss Manuel Pelegrini felt his side deserved more - and they would have left with a point had left-back Arthur Masuaku not switched off to give Glenn Murray plenty of space to score the only goal.
A key period of the season
Brighton boss Chris Hughton spoke in the build-up to the match of the importance of this nine-game period.
It began with West Ham's visit to the Amex and Albion do not play another top-six side until December.
After a tough start to the season, there is no doubt this is the period where Brighton need to pick up points and get themselves comfortably in mid-table and clear of the bottom three.
With the squad they've got, Albion should have more than enough this season to ensure they are not near the relegation places come the end of the year - and a good points return in this period could see them sitting in mid-table at Christmas.
HAVE YOU READ?