Aaron Connolly

Aston Villa grab vital point at Brighton

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Injury-hit Aston Villa grabbed a big point at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

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Leandro Trossard gave Brighton a first half lead but Jack Grealish popped up with a second half equalizer to share the points in a fiery encounter at the Amex.

With the draw both teams remained embroiled in a relegation battle as Brighton have 25 points and sit three points ahead of Villa who occupy 18th, the final relegation spot.


3 things we learned

1. Grealish delivers, again: Riddled by injuries, Villa needed their captain to stand tall. He did. Again. Even in recent heavy defeats Grealish has tried to drive Villa on and he has now scored in their tight win at Burnley and grabbed them a point at Brighton. Against relegation rivals, Grealish has delivered for Villa and at 24 years old he conrinues to mature.

2. Brighton let another lead slip: The Seagulls have won just won of their last eight league games and they keep letting leads slip in tight games. Graham Potter‘s side have plenty of the ball and dominate games but just can’t score the second goal to finish teams off. They have only scored more than one goal once in their last seven games and for all of their fine attacking play, Brighton are three points off the bottom because they can’t finish teams off.

3. Relegation battle coming up: Both teams showed why they will be in a relegation battle all season long. Brighton can’t score or finish teams off, while Villa are too reliant on Grealish and have no real attacking options as they rode their luck at Brighton. Potter and Dean Smith are two progressive, young, English coaches but they will be pushed to their limits to keep their teams up this season. They may also have to put their principles of free-flowing, attacking football to one side if they’re going to be managing PL clubs next season.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish – Villa’s main man popped up with the goal which grabbed them a point and he was everywhere. Villa had no central striker once again as they wait to bring someone in during the January window with Wesley out for the season, and Grealish made so many runs forward during the game to try and take the pressure off his team.


Jack Grealish smashed an effort just wide as Villa looked dangerous on the counter without a recognized striker.

The Seagulls then came close to the taking the lead as Bernardo‘s cross found Aaron Mooy and his volley was cleared, eventually, as an almighty scramble ensued.

Aaron Connolly then knocked a low cross just wide as he seemed to be surprised that the ball found him in the six yard box.

Brighton took the lead as Neal Maupay ran towards goal and teed up Trossard who fired home across goal and into the far corner.

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Mohamed Trezeguet was denied by Mat Ryan in a rare Villa attack as Brighton were dominating, with young American Indiana Vassilev coming on for his Premier League debut.

Moments later Grealish made it 1-1 as a poor mistake from Brighton saw Douglas Luiz play a long ball over the top and Villa’s skipper slammed home to send the away end wild.

Late on Villa debutant Pepe Reina made a wonderful stop to deny Maupay preserve a point as tempers flared towards and after the final whistle as both sets of players were involved in a huge melee.

Premier League January transfer needs

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The January transfer window is now open in the Premier League and there are already plenty of managers talking about doing business this month.

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Who needs what?

We break that down below and assess the top transfer needs for each PL club between now and when the window shuts on Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. ET.


Arsenal
Center back, central midfielder: Linked to Jerome Boateng already, the Gunners are on the hunt for a new central defender after Calum Chambers ruptured his ACL. Any international caliber defenders Mikel Arteta can get his hands on will surely be snapped up. If Granit Xhaka leaves they could also add another central midfielders.
Possibility they will add players: 90 percent


Aston Villa
Goalkeeper, striker, center back: They may well be the busiest team in January, just like in the summer, as two huge injuries to Tom Heaton and Wesley have hit Villa hard. Dean Smith would have been looking to add defensive reinforcements anyway and Villa will need to do well, probably in the loan market, to cope with their lengthy injury list and stay up. They’ve added Danny Drinkwater on loan and that is a good start with John McGinn also out injured.
Possibility they will add players: 100 percent


Bournemouth
Central defender, striker: With so many injuries, Eddie Howe‘s hand may be forced into buying new defenders. It will also be a necessity as Bournemouth are in the bottom three and struggling to score goals. Nathan Ake could depart which would be another massive blow. All in all, Bournemouth probably need a few new faces to give them a little more squad depth as they battle against the drop. Ryan Fraser‘s contract runs out in the summer, so maybe Bournemouth will cash in?
Possibility they will add players
: 70 percent


Brighton and Hove Albion
Striker: The Seagulls probably don’t need to buy in January. They’ve been really good so far this season, with Trossard and Maupay making a big difference since their summer arrival. Aaron Connolly has been like a new signing after his emergence from the academy, but maybe they will try to bring in an experienced forward as they don’t score enough goals given the chances they create.
Possibility they will add players
: 20 percent


Burnley
Central midfielder: Having let Danny Drinkwater go back to Chelsea after his loan spell ended, you have to think Sean Dyche has something else lined up for Burnley’s midfield. Defensively they’ve been fine and going forward Wood, Barnes and Rodriguez have enough goals in them, but in midfield they’ve struggled to control games this season. 
Possibility they will add players
: 30 percent


Chelsea
Center back, striker, winger: It is safe to say Chelsea will be busy as they aim to keep their top four hopes going and recover from a summer transfer ban as all of that money is burning a hole in Frank Lamprd’s pocket. They’ve been linked with so many players but their biggest need is in defense as Ake could return. Timo Werner, Jadon Sancho and Wilfried Zaha all seem more likely to arrive in the summer, but with Pedro on his way out and Willian not signing a new deal, maybe now is the right time for Zaha to arrive?
Possibility they will add players: 90 percent


Crystal Palace
Striker, winger, defenders: Basically, Palace need to add an extra player in each area of the pitch. Roy Hodgson has already said that and he hopes the owners back him. It all depends on whether Zaha is allowed to leave in January as to how busy the Eagles are. Adding one more striker to help Ayew manage the load seems the biggest need, as some of their defensive injuries will start to clear up. Could Batshuayi head back to Palace on loan? The Eagles always seem keen to add players later in the month and hang on for a good deal. They can afford to do that again as they are well clear of the drop zone, for now.
Possibility they will add players
: 60 percent


Everton
Central midfield, full back: A bit of extra cover in midfield and wide area will be key for Carlo Ancelotti and previously getting a central striker in would have been their biggest need. But with Dominic Calvert-Lewin doing the business, there’s no need for that right now. Adding Rabiot in midfield would be great business. 
Possibility they will add players
: 50 percent


Leicester City
None: Another forward option in case Vardy is fatigued would be smart but Perez and Iheanacho have stepped up superbly recently. No need for the Foxes to buy.
Possibility they will add players
: 5 percent


Liverpool
Winger: And they’ve already done their business. Takumi Minamino has arrived from RB Salzburg in a bargain deal and that should be Liverpool wrapped up for the window. If they suffer any more defensive injuries then Jurgen Klopp could jump into the market but they seem all set.
Possibility they will add (more) players: 5 percent


Manchester City
Center back: Their biggest need for about 12 months and City haven’t done anything about it. Seems crazy given their status as one of the richest teams on the planet. Nathan Ake would be a good buy, so too would Caglar Soyuncu or Jonny Evans but all three would be tough deals to do in January. Pep is unlikely to do business in the January window unless a wonderful deal presents itself.
Possibility they will add players: 25 percent


Manchester United
Central midfield: As injuries pile up in central midfield Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that is where he is looking. Gedson Fernandes has been linked and United need an attacking playmaker who can control the tempo of the game better. That has been their biggest need all season, especially with Pogba’s injury problems. With Harry Maguire now out injured too, maybe some extra cover in defense is needed.
Possibility they will add players: 50 percent


Newcastle United
Defenders, striker: Joelinton has scored once and Newcastle have a lot of defensive injuries to deal with. Steve Bruce‘s side are running out of steam after a fine start and the Magpies will try to kick things on by bringing in some new faces in January. Expect Bruce to convince a few of his ex players to join his project at St James’ but don’t expect anything too flashy from Newcastle.
Possibility they will add players: 60 percent.


Norwich City
Defenders, striker: Someone to help out Pukki would be great and so too would some upgrades at center back but Norwich are already in that situation where they may save their money instead of spending big, as they know relegation is likely. Sad but true as they could make a lot of money on Pukki, Buendia, Aarons and Cantwell in the summer. Norwich have been like with a loan move for Hertha Berlin’s attacker Duda. 
Possibility they will add players
: 20 percent


Sheffield United
None: They added Jack Rodwell as a free agent to provide some depth but apart from that they look set. They have options in every position and Chris Wilder has rotated the squad well this season. 
Possibility they will add (more) players
: 5 percent


Southampton
Full backs: Ralph Hasenhuttl has already said he wants to sign some new full backs. Cedric is out of contract this summer and Ryan Bertrand has been linked with a move away. Expect some young full backs to arrive who will ease themselves in and be starters next season. Kyle Walker-Peters and Joakim Maehle have been mentioned as potential new right backs, the former on loan.
Possibility they will add players: 60 percent.


Tottenham Hotspur
Defenders, striker: Harry Kane’s injury may force them into buying a new striker. Vertonghen may leave, while Aurier continues to be a problem at right back. Jose Mourinho is not happy with their defensive displays and Spurs need to add quality rather than quality in defense. Daniel Levy must loosen the purse strings if Spurs are to keep their top four hopes alive. Christian Eriksen could leave before his contract runs out, so maybe Spurs will look to sell him and bring in a new playmaker. Plenty of work to be done. Piatek could arrive to help with Kane’s absence.
Possibility they will add players: 70 percent.


Watford
Striker: Honestly, they are pretty set. Another striker to push Deeney and Gray hard would be nice but Nigel Pearson has inherited a decent squad and now has them well organized and hungry. The Hornets don’t need to spend despite being in a relegation scrap. They always seem to buy a young players from somewhere, or at least loan someone from the Pozzo owned clubs.  
Possibility they will add players
: 20 percent


West Ham United
Midfield, defenders: David Moyes has been linked with Gedson Fernandes and West Ham need a little something extra in midfield with Rice and Noble keeping things tight. That said, defensive improvements would be nice but Moyes has a lot of expensive new-ish signings to work with. West Ham will not want to spend much.
Possibility they will add players: 50 percent


Wolverhampton Wanderers
Defenders, striker: Raul Jimenez needs some help and Patrick Cutrone has done okay but hasn’t set the world alight. Getting in some decent young players should be the aim as Wolves’ relatively small squad has to cope with Europa League, FA Cup and the Premier League. If they get this right in January they could finish in the top four.
Possibility they will add players: 60 percent

Brighton peg back Chelsea

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Brighton and Hove Albion drew 1-1 with Chelsea at the Amex Stadium on New Year’s Day, as a stunning late goal from Alireza Jahanbakhsh grabbed the Seagulls a point.

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Chelsea lead early through Cesar Azpilicueta but the Blues wasted several chances and Brighton improved in the second half as they were unlucky not to grab all three points.

With the point Brighton have 24 points, while Chelsea now have 36.


3 things we learned

1. Jahanbakhsh in fine form: The Iranian playmaker was emotional when he scored his first PL goal against Bournemouth on Saturday and he lost the plot again after his amazing overhead kick goal. With two goals in two he has added cutting edge to his game and on the ball he has always shown plenty of quality. What a goal and what a few days for Jahanbakhsh.

2. Chelsea can’t find consistency: They haven’t won back-to-back games in all competitions since October and this is starting to become a concern for Frank Lampard. They followed up their big win at Spurs by losing against Southampton and their win at Arsenal has been followed up by a draw at Brighton. As Spurs, Man United and Wolves continue to find consistency below them in the table, Chelsea need to become ruthless or they risk blowing their top four chances.

3. Pulisic bright but snatches chances on return: Pulisic’s return to the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 14 was a good one as the USMNT winger cause Brighton plenty of problems with his dribbling and crosses into the box, but his final pass and shot was just a little too frantic and rushed. It seemed like he was trying to do a little too much instead of letting his instincts take over. He played well in his 66 minutes on the pitch and his hamstring looked fine, which is a huge plus.

Man of the Match: Kepa – Made some superb stops to deny Connolly and Maupay late on as Chelsea could have easily lost this game.


The first big chance of the game arrived but Reece James shanked his effort wide as the away team started well

But then Brighton youngster Steven Alzate burst into the box but his shot trickled just wide via deflection.

Chelsea then took the lead as a corner was kept alive by Abraham and Azpilicueta pounced to make it 1-0.

Moments later Dan Burn went down with a lengthy injury to his shoulder as Bernardo replaced him.

Chelsea continued to be a threat on the break in the first half as Abraham went close and Brighton hung in there, with Leandro Trossard denied by a flying save from Kepa.

Right on half time USMNT star Pulisic whipped an effort just wide of the far post as he was so close to doubling Chelsea’s lead.

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Brighton brought on Aaron Connolly at the break and looked more of a threat on the break, while Pulisic had a flurry of chances but Ryan saved one and the other two were off target.

Kepa denied Connolly with a fine save from close range after the Brighton forward controlled a low cross well as Brighton pushed hard for a late equalizer.

It arrived in spectacular fashion as Jahanbakhsh sent home a wonderful acrobatic overhead kick to make it 1-1 to send the Amex wild. What a goal.

Brighton could have nicked all three points late on but Kepa denied Maupay brilliantly as Chelsea had a great chance themselves but sub Callum Hudson-Odoi fired just wide.

Tottenham fight back to beat Brighton

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Tottenham Hotspur beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Boxing Day as Harry Kane and Dele Alli scored second half goals to lead Spurs to victory.

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Adam Webster had given Brighton a first half lead but Spurs hung in there and Kane and Alli struck in the final 30 minutes to lead Jose Mourinho’s men to an important win as they bounced back from their defeat against Chelsea.

With the victory Spurs momentarily closed the gap to the top four back to three points, while Brighton lost a second-straight game as they continue to sink towards the relegation zone.


3 things we learned

1. Quality of Kane, Alli rescues Spurs: If in doubt, Kane and Alli will bail Spurs out. The England internationals scored a goal each in the second half as they turned things around for Spurs. It wasn’t pretty but Kane and Alli set the tone for high-pressing and they had the quality to finish off chances and link up in attack. Tottenham have plenty of defensive issues to sort out but going forward they are in good shape with Kane and Alli leading the line.

2. Brighton run out of steam: The Seagulls took the game to Spurs in the first half but totally ran out of steam in the second as they hardly had a chance going forward. Graham Potter‘s side are lovely to watch at times but you worry about their lack of cutting edge in the final third as they continue to sink towards the relegation scrap. Had Aaron Connolly finished a great chance at the start of the second half, we’d be talking about a big away win for the Seagulls. So far this season they’ve just run out of steam at key moments. 

3. Midfield balance not right: Harry Winks came in for Eric Dier on Boxing Day but the balance just wasn’t right in central midfield once again. Moussa Sissoko played okay but there doesn’t seem to be enough defensive cover in front of the back four and that is something Mourinho always wants. Get ready for Mourinho’s first signing at Spurs to be a holding midfielder.

Man of the Match: Harry Kane – Didn’t stop running the entire game, scored one and had another disallowed for a tight offside and drove Tottenham on to victory. Kane is now in double figures for the PL season and the Englishman is standing tall as they continue their battle to finish in the top four.


The first big chance of the game arrived for Spurs as Toby Alderweireld‘s long ball found Sessegnon and on his first Premier League start for Spurs the youngster hit the post.

Steven Alzate then drilled a low shot on goal which Paulo Gazzaniga could only push away as Brighton grew as a threat on the break.

Aaron Mooy‘s effort was then deflected wide as Brighton caused Spurs problems, but it then looked like Kane had given Tottenham the lead. Harry Winks’ ball found the English striker and he finished calmly, but VAR intervened and decided Kane was offside by an armpit as the goal was chalked off.

Brighton made the most of that as moments after Moussa Sissoko had missed a glorious chance at one end, Brighton broke and won a free kick. Webster headed home from that set piece as he was left totally unmarked to give the Seagulls the lead.

Dele Alli almost flicked home at the near post before the break but Spurs had it all to do in the second half.

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At the start of the second half Aaron Connolly almost doubled Brighton’s leader with a header and that seemed to finally wake Spurs up.

Kane continued his amazing streak of scoring on Boxing Day as he made it eight goals in five games on Dec. 26, as he finished emphatically at the second attempt to draw Tottenham level and set up a frantic final third of the game.

Spurs pushed hard for the winner late on but Pascal Gross was denied by Gazzaniga as his free kick arrowed towards the top corner.

But a moment of pure class won the game for Tottenham as a flowing move saw Christian Eriksen find Serge Aurier at the back post and his touch set up Dele Alli who lobbed home a sumptuous effort into the far top corner.

Kane, Alli and Eriksen all went close late on to adding a third but in the end Spurs eased to victory after a rousing second half comeback.

Watch Live: Tottenham v. Brighton

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Tottenham Hotspur host Brighton and Hove Albion to kick off the Boxing Day festivities (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in the Premier League.

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Jose Mourinho will be looking for a reaction from his team after they were dominated by bitter rivals Chelsea last time out and lost 2-0 at home as Heung-Min Son was also sent off in a miserable outing.

As for Brighton, they’ve been struggling and are hovering just above the relegation zone although Graham Potter’s side continue to play attractive, attacking soccer.

In team news Spurs bring in Ryan Sessegnon to start in place of the suspended Son, as the summer signing from Fulham makes his first PL start for Spurs. Harry Winks comes in for Eric Dier.

Brighton Make five changes after then defeat to Sheffield United with Shane Duffy, Ezequiel Schelotto, Bernardo, Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate replacing Lewis Dunk, Martin Montoya, Leandro Trossard, Dale Stephens and Neal Maupay.

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