Six things we learned from Wolves v Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton produced a battling and hard-working performance to draw 0-0 away to Wolves yesterday. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Saturday, 20th April 2019, 10:05 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th April 2019, 10:12 pm
Dale Stephens in action at Wolves. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Back to basics

Albion went back to basics and made sure they were hard to play against at Wolves yesterday.

A run of five successive defeats had drained confidence but Chris Hughton set the Seagulls up to defend from the front and, although they rode their luck a couple of times, it was a well-deserved point.

Wingers Jose Izquierdo and Solly March had to work hard up and down the pitch and Glenn Murray battled away all day on his own up front.

The clean sheet will be a confidence booster for goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and the defence ahead of a tough trip to Tottenham on Tuesday.

The result will also give Brighton momentum to take forward in their bid to stay in the Premier League.

A familiar line-up

Brighton boss Chris Hughton returned to the familiar team from last season for yesterday's match at Wolves.

The Seagulls achieved a 15th-placed finish as they stayed up in the Premier League last season and they appeared on course to do the same again this year.

However a run of four successive defeats prior to yesterday's game against Wolves had seen Albion fall to just two points ahead of third-from-bottom Cardiff.

Bruno, Pascal Gross and Solly March all returned to the starting line-up in Tuesday's defeat to Cardiff and Gaetan Bong and Jose Izquierdo - his first start since December - were back from the off yesterday.

Hughton went for a starting line-up which involved players who had either worked hard to get the club into the Premier League, battled away to keep them in the top flight last year or both.

That left summer arrivals Florin Andone, club record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Bernardo and Dan Burn along with last January's then-club record signing Jurgen Locadia on the bench, while Yves Bissouma, Martin Montoya and Leon Balogun were not involved in the 18-man squad.

A welcome clean sheet

Clean sheets have been harder to come by for Brighton this season and yesterday's was just their sixth in the Premier League.

Albion managed ten shut-outs in the top flight last year but the clean sheet at Wolves was just their second away from home in 2018/19.

That was in no small part thanks to Mathew Ryan producing one outstanding stop and a couple of decent saves in the second half.

Wolves looked set to take the lead with just under 20 minutes to go when Diogo Jota's header came back off a post and Leander Dendoncker looked set to tap the loose ball home from a couple of yards but Ryan threw himself in the way to deflect the shot over.

Albion need to defend like they did at the Molineux for the rest of the season to ensure they are in the Premier League again next season.

Luck on Albion's side

Things haven't gone Brighton's way in recent weeks so they may feel they deserved the luck that came their way yesterday.

Late in the first half a deflected Wolves shot found its way to striker Diogo Jota unmarked at the back post and his chipped effort hit the top of the bar.

Jota had already flashed an effort inches wide earlier in the first half and he was denied by the woodwork for a second time with just under 20 minutes to go.

His header rebounded off the inside of the post and Leander Dendoncker's follow-up was saved by Mathew Ryan.

Wolves fans may have chanted 'boring' at Brighton during the second half and at the final whistle but it could be a huge point in Albion's battle to stay up.

Unsung heroes

Dale Stephens often gets the brunt of criticism from Albion fans but the midfielder was excellent in the middle of the park at Molineux.

Some supporters were calling for Stephens to be dropped in favour of Beram Kayal but the duo ended up playing the majority of the game alongside each other after Kayal replaced the injured Davy Propper after just nine minutes.

Stephens kept things simple in the middle of the park and eased the pressure on Albion at times by ensuring the Seagulls kept hold of the ball.

Kayal also impressed with a hard-working display as he looked to get Brighton on the front foot.

The duo formed an excellent partnership during Brighton's Championship days and Chris Hughton will hope they can continue this type of form for the run-in.

Over to you

Albion's draw at Wolves was a huge psychological boost as it moved them three points clear of third-from-bottom Cardiff.

Both sides have four games left to play, with the Bluebirds hosting title-chasing Liverpool later today and Albion travel to Tottenham on Tuesday.

Cardiff finish their season with games against Fulham, Crystal Palace and Manchester United, while Brighton face Newcastle, Arsenal and Manchester City.

As the Seagulls have a superior goal difference, Cardiff now need to get results from at least two of their remaining games.

If Albion can beat Newcastle next weekend, that could well be enough to ensure the Seagulls stay up.