Danny Ings (£6.6m) scored again in Gameweek 20 as Neal Maupay (£5.8m) picked up an assist, while it was frustration for Aston Villa and Jack Grealish (£6.4m) at Vicarage Road.
Our latest festive set of Scout Notes analyse Brighton v Bournemouth, Southampton v Crystal Palace and Watford v Villa.
BRIGHTON 2-0 BOURNEMOUTH
- Goals: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£5.8m), Aaron Mooy (£4.8m)
- Assists: Neal Maupay (£5.8m), Leandro Trossard 9£5.8m)
- Bonus Points: Mooy x3, Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) x2, Trossard x1
On his first start under Graham Potter, Alireza Jahanbakhsh (£5.8m) scored his maiden Brighton goal after just three minutes. The Iranian slotted into the far-right corner after being teed up by Neal Maupay (£5.8m).
Only minutes later, Diego Rico (£4.4m) put Josh King (£6.1m) through but the Norwegian’s effort was saved by Mat Ryan (£4.8m).
Brighton broke up the field immediately after in an end-to-end opening at the Amex Stadium, with Maupay firing over from distance.
The Frenchman rocketed another effort well over the crossbar from just outside the box in the 10th minute, before shooting wide again moments later.
Maupay had an opportunity to get off a shot inside the area after 33 minutes but failed to properly control a low Dan Burn (£4.5m) cross.
And it was the Brighton left-back who got an important block to a Harry Wilson (£5.9m) effort after the Liverpool loanee was found in the area by King.
Cherries forward King then saw Lewis Dunk (£4.7m) intercept his cutback, with the onrushing Dominic Solanke (£5.2m) denied a tap-in.
Maupay attempted another shot before the break, his weak effort rolling into the hands of Aaron Ramsdale (£4.7m).
A 55th-minute VAR check ruled that Dunk did not foul Solanke in the box as Bournemouth pushed for an equaliser.
The Video Assistant Referee was in action again moments later as Burn’s goal was ruled out for the defender himself being offside from the free-kick which resulted in his strike.
Aaron Mooy (£4.8m), who impressed as the most advanced of Brighton’s midfield three, shot just wide in the 62nd minute before Yves Bissouma (£5.0m) hit Ramsdale’s right-hand post from inside the area.
That was just after Callum Wilson (£7.4m) and Ryan Fraser (£6.9m) were brought on by Eddie Howe, while King departed the action after 72 minutes with the Cherries still trailing by a goal.
On the penalty-taking forward, Howe remarked:
We need to see how we came through today. Today was very difficult. It looks like Josh King, maybe, picked up a hamstring injury. Jack Stacey, the same. Jefferson Lerma couldn’t start today because of a hamstring problem.
The Cherries’ deficit was doubled by Mooy in the 79th minute as the Australian collected a Leandro Trossard (£5.8m) cross into the box, lifted the ball over Chris Mepham (£4.3m) before finding the corner of the net.
Maupay then hit another shot straight at Ramsdale after an exquisite touch from man-of-the-match Mooy.
A late Bournemouth flurry saw Shane Duffy (£4.8m) block efforts from Callum Wilson and Solanke, while Mepham stopped Maupay from firing yet another effort just before the final whistle.
Speaking about the on-loan Mooy, Potter said:
“Aaron is on loan for the season and we have to respect that he is Huddersfield’s player. He’s enjoying his football and he feels comfortable at the club. He’s a great person and an intelligent footballer. Previously we perhaps haven’t got the reward as a team his individual performance deserved but today we did and I’m delighted for him.” – Graham Potter
On Brighton’s win, Potter added:
“I am delighted with the result and the performance and proud of the players, in the way they went about the game. There was some good quality at times and it’s an important three points for everyone – the players and the supporters. We could have had another goal or two but in the end it’s a win we are delighted with. We got the early goal but there were aspects of the first half I wasn’t so happy with. We made a few adjustments and the response was really good. Even when Bournemouth made changes it didn’t have too much effect, but at 1-0 you know that you need the second and I was pleased with how the players reacted to the disappointment of our disallowed VAR goal and kept going. We deserved to get the second one.” – Graham Potter
Potter’s opposing number Howe lamented:
“That was a tough day today, we know how good Brighton are with the ball and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb and didn’t settle in the first 10 minutes. We did recover and did well in the remainder of the first half. What was most disappointed was the second half where we needed to get on the ball and we didn’t have the composure to do that. The most difficult thing is the run of results but the strength of the squad has been knocked and that allows a feeling sorry for yourself if you don’t get the results you want. But we have to go again, find the inner strength and keep going. You know with a small squad the Christmas period is ultimate test and you need to rotate players, it’s very difficult to ask players to go twice in three days and it looks like we’ve lost Josh and Jack so it is not a good day. The games come thick and fast and this was one of the games we needed to get something and we didn’t. We need to learn our lessons.” – Eddie Howe
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-3-3): Ryan; Burn, Dunk, Duffy, Montoya; Mooy (Stephens 84′), Bissouma (Murray 89′), Propper; Trossard, Maupay, Jahanbakhsh (Alzate 84′).
Bournemouth (4-4-2): Ramsdale; Rico, Mepham, S. Cook, Stacey; Stanislas (C. Wilson 62′), Billing, Gosling, H. Wilson (Fraser 62′); King (L. Cook 73′), Solanke.
SOUTHAMPTON 1-1 CRYSTAL PALACE
- Goal: Danny Ings (£6.6m) | James Tomkins (£5.0m)
- Assists: None | Luka Milivojevic (£6.7m)
- Bonus: Ings x3, Tomkins x2, Milivojevic x1
Danny Ings (£6.6m) made it 12 league goals for the season at St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon after capitalising on a mistake from popular budget defender Martin Kelly (£4.4m) in the second half to earn a point for Southampton.
Crystal Palace thought they had taken the lead after 13 minutes, only for VAR to intervene. Wilfried Zaha (£6.9m) bamboozled the Saints defence in the box before finding Max Meyer (£5.2m), who slammed a shot past Alex McCarthy (£4.3m).
But Zaha was ruled to be offisde as he received the ball, in what was a marginal call from the Video Assistant Referee. It means the Ivory Coast international still has just one attacking return since Gameweek 15.
Southampton’s best chance of the first half fell to Jan Bednarek (£4.4m), who failed to hit the target from close range after a wicked James Ward-Prowse (£5.9m) free-kick.
Ings had two efforts blocked in the box immediately after the restart before Palace took the lead.
James Tomkins (£5.0m) rose highest to meet Luka Milivojevic‘s (£6.7m) set-piece delivery, with the defender’s header rifling past McCarthy via the crossbar.
Tomkins will not have been happy with Kelly for his role in the Saints’ equaliser. The right-back’s poor attempt at a pass to his fellow defender ended up at the feet of Ings, who coolly slotted past Vicente Guaita (£5.1m).
After a first half without a shot on target, there were seven in the second period. Five of those came for the home team, with Ings heavily involved.
The forward headed just over Guaita’s crossbar after 81 minutes, before Ward-Prowse saw the Palace netminder keep out his free-kick – one of Guaita’s four saves at St. Mary’s. The Spaniard had already made a great stop from substitute Moussa Djenepo (£5.2m), returning from injury.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was pleased with the amount of chances created by his team, saying:
“It was a pity that Moussa didn’t score – it was a great save from the goalkeeper – and Ingsy had a good chance, with another great save from the goalkeeper, so I think we showed a good reaction after the goal. I think the team knew it is difficult if you go one down against this team, but we stuck to the game plan and Moussa made a good impact as a sub. In the end, we had more chances than the opponent, so I think it was not such a bad game for us. It was absolutely a deserved point and maybe, with a little bit of luck, we could’ve taken more.” – Ralph Hasenhüttl
Speaking about his current injury list – which includes three first-choice defenders and could see Kelly added to that list – Roy Hodgson said:
It’s all very well to talk about injuries and people do but not too many people have seven players [injured], all of whom are in the first team. The only one you could say maybe hasn’t played so much is Scott Dann but the other six [Cahill, Ward, Van Aanholt, Schlupp, Townsend, Benteke] are all players who probably would have played today had we had them available. We’re not talking about players who are bit-part players, we’re talking about regular first-teamers and as a result of course we had a bench with three Under-23s who haven’t played [in the league]. We have Connor Wickham who’s not played in three years from the start, Victor Camarasa who’s not started a game as yet and then we have Cheikhou Kouyate who ends up on the field. I know one thing: whatever team we put out [v Norwich City], however well we succeed in patching them up or maybe in one or two instances not patching them up, those players who go out there with a Crystal Palace shirt on will definitely give their all, like today. [Jairo] Riedewald played his first full game. He’s been with me two or three years, Jairo, and I think that’s his fourth or fifth [start] in the first-team. [He was] fantastic. Martin Kelly, injured, playing right-back [and he is a] centre-back really. [James] McCarthy, only his second full game from the start. Max Meyer hasn’t really played very much in the season so far.” – Roy Hodgson
Southampton XI (4-4-2): McCarthy; Bertrand, Bednarek, J Stephens, Cedric; Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Højbjerg, Boufal (Armstrong 68′); Ings, Adams (Djenepo 63′).
Crystal Palace XI (4-5-1): Guaita; Riedewald, Sakho, Tomkins, M Kelly; Zaha, McCarthy, Milivojevic, McArthur, Meyer (Kouyate 84′); Ayew.
WATFORD 3-0 ASTON VILLA
- Goals: Troy Deeney (£6.2m) x2, Ismaila Sarr (£6.2m)
- Assists: Abdoulaye Doucoure (£5.6m), Etienne Capoue (£4.8m)
- Bonus: Deeney x3, Craig Cathcart (£4.3m) x2, Capoue x1
Jack Grealish (£6.4m) drew a blank at Vicarage Road on Saturday, while also picking up a late yellow card for his troubles as Nigel Pearson’s Watford revolution continued.
The Hornets have two wins and one draw in the past three Gameweeks and put Dean Smith’s Aston Villa to the sword in this relegation-zone scrap.
After the game, the Lions’ boss said:
“The performance in the first half lost us the game. It was nowhere near good enough. Watford looked more committed but, having said that, we had a great chance [Wesley’s header].” – Dean Smith
Christian Kabasele (£4.3m) saw Tom Heaton (£4.5m) palm his early effort off the line after Troy Deeney‘s (£6.2m) flick-on from a corner.
Ben Foster (£4.8m) matched Heaton in the 25th minute, using his leg to divert a close-range Wesley (£5.7m) header over the bar after a Conor Hourihane (£5.7m) cross.
VAR then decided not to award a penalty after Wesley clashed with Craig Cathcart (£4.3m) in the Watford area.
Ismaila Sarr‘s (£6.2m) blocked shot led to a 40th-minute corner for the Hornets and after a bit of pinball, Deeney was presented with a glorious opportunity to score but his weak effort rolled into Heaton’s hands.
But the Watford captain made up for his miss moments later. Ezri Konsa (£4.3m) had his attempted clearance charged down by the buzzing Hornets, which resulted in Heaton pushing out an Abdoulaye Doucouré (£5.6m) effort.
The Villa keeper could not stop Deeney’s rebound from making its way into his far corner, however, as the home side took the lead just before the interval.
The away team continued to look shaky at the back as the second half began but were handed an advantage when Adrian Mariappa (£4.2m) was sent off for a second bookable offence.
That did not stop Pearson’s men attempting to stretch their lead and a Douglas Luiz (£4.4m) foul on Deeney in the area led to a 68th-minute penalty for Watford.
“There was a lot of frustration out there. It [Douglas Luiz’s challenge for the penalty] was shoulder-to-shoulder. There is a foul on Jack for the third goal, but the fourth official told me that the player got the ball, when he obviously didn’t.” – Dean Smith
The striker made no mistake as he fired past Heaton from the spot, just after Matt Targett (£4.4m) left the pitch due to an injury – meaning the left-back picked up two points rather than one, in a Gameweek where it appears every point will really count.
Another Watford break minutes later saw FPL midfielder Sarr convert inside the area from Etienne Capoue‘s (£4.8m) cross.
The Villans failed to capitalise on Mariappa’s dismissal, with the talismanic Grealish managing three shots and picking up that injury-time booking in an ill-tempered affair.
We knew that it was going to be a tough season. There is no excuse, we have to perform better than we did today. – Dean Smith
Watford XI (4-2-3-1): Foster; Femenía, Cathcart (Masina 85′), Kabasele, Mariappa; Capoue, Hughes (Chalobah 46′, Dawson 60′); Deulofeu, Doucouré, Sarr; Deeney.
Aston Villa XI (4-3-3): Heaton; Targett (Guilbert 66′), Hause, Konsa, El Mohamady; Hourihane, D Luiz, Lansbury (Kodjia 73′); Grealish, Wesley, Jota (El Ghazi 46′).
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