Six things we learned from Brighton's draw at Newcastle
Brighton battled to a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Newcastle this afternoon. Here's six things we learned from the game.
Where are goals going to come from?
That's the question Albion fans have been asking for a couple of months now. The Seagulls have scored just twice in nine league games and only 15 times in 21 Premier League matches.
They did not really create any clear-cut chances today and their main threat came from set-pieces as Shane Duffy had a couple of opportunities in the first half and Lewis Dunk had a header saved by Karl Darlow in the second period.
Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed worked their socks off up front but didn't have a chance between them - the only sight of goal they had was when Murray missed the ball six yards out, although the offside flag was already up.
Pascal Gross' delivery from set-pieces was where an Albion goal looked most likely to come from. Anthony Knockaert got Brighton on the front foot on several occasions with no real end product, while Solly March put a shift in down the left but failed to find Albion team-mates with his deliveries into the box.
It's been said on more than one occasion that Albion will need to strengthen in the forward department in January, whether that be a striker, winger or attacking midfielder - or even all three positions.
Mathew Ryan had doubters early in his Albion career but he's more than put them to bed with some impressive performances of late.
The Australian number one has now kept three clean sheets in his last four matches and eight in total this season.
He got down well to his right to keep out Mikel Merino's deflected shot early in the second half and then produced an excellent reaction save to keep out Dwight Gayle's glancing header.
His shot-stopping has earned Albion several points already this season and will no doubt earn them several more.
The reported £5.4m Albion paid Valencia for Ryan in the summer is already looking like money well spent. If he carries on this form, he'll be well in the running to be named Brighton's player of the season before he heads to Russia for the World Cup.
With so many games in short a short space over the festive period, it was no real surprise both teams again made several changes.
Albion made five changes from their 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Chelsea, while Newcastle made seven changes from the team which began their 1-0 loss at home to Manchester City on Wednesday.
It does beg the question whether there are too many games over the Christmas and New Year period. Surely there would be better quality matches if even just one game was taken out of the festive period and played in midweek later in the season.
Brighton will have played four times in nine days - and twice in 48 hours - come Monday afternoon, following the game with Bournemouth. Newcastle's four games will be over a similar nine day period.
Following the Cherries clash, Albion have a welcome seven day break until they host arch rivals Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
New club record prevented
Newcastle went into the game on the back of five successive home losses and defeat to the Seagulls today would have set a new club record.
The Magpies had lost at St James' Park to Bournemouth (1-0), Watford (3-0), Leicester (3-2), Everton (1-0) and Manchester City (1-0).
Boos rang out from home fans at the final whistle of a drab draw but the point ended Newcastle's wretched home form, although Rafa Benitez will have to wait at least a couple more days to register his 150th win as a Premier League manager.
For Albion, they failed to score for the fifth successive away game but it will be viewed as an excellent away point if they back it up with victory at home to Bournemouth on Monday.
A happy return for once
Chris Hughton made his fourth managerial return to Tyneside since being sacked as Newcastle manager in 2010.
He had suffered three successive defeats before today, losing 1-0 and 2-1 with Norwich and 2-0 with the Seagulls last season.
Today's scoreless draw ended Hughton's losing run as an opposition boss at St James' Park, although Brighton's manager felt his team were the better side and perhaps deserved more than the point they got.
Pick up points against the side around you
Albion have done this well so far this season and have now lost just one of nine games against sides below them in the table.
Brighton remain 12th in the Premier League table after today's draw and collected four points off the Magpies this season, after a 1-0 win at the Amex in September.
The Seagulls' only defeat against a side lower down in the table was at Bournemouth, when the hosts were inspired by Jordon Ibe to fight back and record a 2-1 win.
Key games come in January against Bournemouth, West Brom and Southampton. If Albion can continue their form against the lower sides, they'll be in a strong position when the January transfer window closes.