Brighton – Aston Villa: Brighton and Hove Albion took 26 shots but couldn’t find a way past Emiliano Martinez as Aston Villa drew the Seagulls 0-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
Brighton takes four of six points from Villa this season but will be grinding teeth at the thought of Martinez’s nine saves.
The Seagulls’ 26 points are 11 clear of the bottom three, though Fulham has played two fewer matches, while Villa’s 36th point takes it above Tottenham into eight.
Three things we learned from Brighton – Aston Villa
1. Villa, Brighton tell same-old story: It’s somewhat fitting that the pre-match storyline centered around whether the Premier League’s least lucky finishers could find a way through a gritty Villa who had kept 11 clean sheets including leaving Leicester City, Southampton, and Arsenal (twice) without a goal. Brighton entered the day 8th in shots-per-game (12.3) but 15th in shots on target/90 (3.5). Villa had allowed the seventh-most shots in the league/90 (13.2) but were top half in goals conceded.
Brighton kept the ball 58 percent of the time — 64% in the second half — and the shot numbers were a cartoonish 26-4 for the Seagulls with nine shots on target. But no goals. Again.
2. Martinez keeps shining: The backup goalkeeper can often be the most popular guy in town and Arsenal fans would often wonder whether Emiliano Martinez wasn’t at least on the level of exceptional start Bernd Leno, if not better. Martinez has been as good as anyone not named Nick Pope since heading to Villa, and his eight saves are perhaps the only reason Brighton didn’t take another step toward the top half. Oddly enough, Brighton’s two top goalkeepers allowed Graham Potter to send Mathew Ryan to Arsenal.
3. Brighton has Grealish’s number: It’s rare that Jack Grealish is taken both off the score sheet and also off-kilter, but Brighton’s done it twice. The Villa star scrapped with Tariq Lamptey in the first meeting of the two sides, and Grealish still had a fight on his hands with Lamptey out of the lineup. Yves Bissouma, Ben White, and especially Joel Veltman held Grealish to one off-target shot and one completed dribble. Grealish had three fouls and four fouls drawn, while Veltman had three and three. Proper scrap. Respect.
Man of the Match: Emiliano Martinez
Brighton – Aston Villa recap
Alexis Mac Allister couldn’t get a 10th-minute chance under the bar as Brighton proved an early threat, and Joel Veltman forced a low save out of Emiliano Martinez.
It was all Brighton with little real danger when Trossard took a Mac Allister pass and forced a brilliant save out of Martinez with a hard-hit shot.
[ MORE: Klopp concedes Premier League title ]
Martinez needed full-stretch to push a Dan Burn header off wide of the far post off a Brighton corner.
The Seagulls lived in Villa’s final third but left the door open as the match remained scoreless in the 55th, then the 64th, then the 72nd.
Tyrone Mings made a terrific intervention to force Neal Maupay to fire wide of the goal after the Frenchman danced past Ezri Konsa in the 18.