Adrian Mariappa

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Graham Potter praises Brighton’s spirit: ‘Every point is what it is and we have to take it’

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Following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion Premier League winless streak hits an uncomfortable 10 bouts.

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For any side in the bottom third of the table, red flags and emergency sirens would be at a season-high. Brighton’s situation, however, is peculiar. The Seagulls are in a unique position: Doing what a few expected, they punched above their weight in the first half of the season, giving themselves a buffer if thing were to go south as the season progressed.

At Falmer Stadium, in typical Graham Potter fashion, Brighton controlled possession and the tempo of the match. Watford, a sturdy opponent despite their relegation-zone troubles, surprised the home side as Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled off an impecable solo goal. All signs pointed for a low-effort win by the Hornets.

Then, after a plethora of missed chances, Watford’s Adrian Mariappa sublimely put the ball behind his own net. The Seagulls tied in the 78th minute after Aaron Mooy‘s offensive push. Potter, following the match, recognized his team caught a break. To the BBC:

“We gave a lot in the game,” he said following Brighton’s second consecutive draw. “It was difficult to go behind when we had started quite well and were in the ascendancy.”

“The crowd got a little nervous and the atmosphere is difficult. I’m proud of the players because we took responsibility of the game. The character they showed, they accepted the challenge because you could go under at that point – it’s not easy to be the one that has to find the answers.”

Certainly, without the cushion, Potter and company would have channeled Nigel Pearson‘s forlorn sentiments. The 56-year-old manager described Watford’s draw as a “unfortunate” after working “exceptionally hard” for 90 minutes.

Instead, Potter expressed great admiration towards his players, mostly for the maturity they displayed during trying times.

“We were down on the scoreline, the lads desperately want to get points, get the win, we showed maturity. It’s not easy in the Premier League when you are down,” he added. “I am really proud of the players.”

“Every point is what it is and we have to take it. We will look to move forward, take a break now and move forward for Sheffield United.”

Brighton, Watford battle to draw

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Brighton and Hove Albion fought back to draw 1-1 against relegation rivals Watford at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

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Abdoulaye Doucoure gave Watford the lead in the first half but Brighton kept plugging away and eventually Adrian Mariappa scored a comical own goal to grab the Seagulls a point.

With the draw Graham Potter‘s side move on to 27 points and are in 15th, while Nigel Pearson‘s Watford have 24 points and sit in 19th place but are just one point from safety in the congested relegation scrap.


Three things we learned

1. Same old story for Brighton: The Seagulls dominated yet another game but couldn’t secure a first win in six and that is pretty much the story of their season. They keep the ball so well and it is remarkable how quickly their style has changed under Potter in his first season in charge but they just aren’t clinical and that is why they’re in a relegation scrap. Brighton had 67 percent possession and 10 shots to Watford’s two. Both of Watford’s efforts were on target and only two of Brighton’s were. That is where their biggest problem lies. The Seagulls get into some great positions but don’t pounce and make the most of their chances. That has to change if they’re going to stay up.

2. Watford fail to make most of big chance: With just over 10 minutes to go, Watford could see the smash and grab in sight. Then Mariappa slid in and scored a beauty of an own goal to cough up two points. Just like last week they’d collapsed as Watford were 2-0 up and cruising against Everton but they then lost 3-2. These are the kind of late setbacks you see happen to teams who end up going down season after season. You have to applaud the way Pearson has organized this team. They are tough to break down and better defensively but unless they go 3-0 up they don’t look like they can hold on to a lead right now. Watford’s confidence has taken a hit in recent weeks but they will be very happy with a point because they didn’t play well at all at Brighton.

3. Relegation battle remains wide open: From 19th place to 15th there are just three points in this and it is set to be an almighty scrap to avoid the drop. Watford are in 19th and Brighton in 15th, with West Ham, Aston Villa and Bournemouth in-between them. Teams in that area of the table are picking up points. That should set things up for a very tense finish because with the title sewn up for Liverpool, the real drama will be in seeing who can drag themselves away from the bottom three.

Man of the Match: Lewis Dunk – Held things together defensively and set the tone for Brighton being so dominant throughout. Dangerous from set pieces and always calm on the ball to get the Seagulls going.


Glenn Murray headed off target early on as Troy Deeney also had to head clear from inside his own six yard box.

Even though the home side had a lot of the ball early on it was Watford who took the lead in stunning fashion. Etienne Capoue intercepted Aaron Mooy‘s pass on the halfway line and Doucoure raced towards goal.

The French midfielder galloped forward with purpose and smashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner to make it 1-0.

Brighton tried to get back into the game as Solly March‘s cross was cleared and Murray continued to sniff around and cause a nuisance of himself.

Watford had a few counter attacks of their own but couldn’t quite find the final pass and Brighton wanted a penalty just before half time as Ezequiel Schelotto went down in the box with Gerard Deulofeu nearby. Nothing was given.

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In the second half Brighton kept dominating possession and Schelotto drilled across goal but Murray couldn’t get on the end of the cross.

Neal Maupay came on for the final 30 minutes as Brighton threw everything at Watford in the closing stages. Lewis Dunk almost got on the end of a cross as Brighton launched the ball forward at every opportunity.

Mooy was played in but his low shot was saved superbly down low by Ben Foster but moments later Brighton were level.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh‘s cross from the right was knocked into his own net by Mariappa as the Seagulls finally had the equalizer their pressured deserved.

Late on both teams were exhausted and neither could muster the energy to grab a winner.

Aston Villa thumped by 10-man Watford

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Watford pummeled Aston Villa despite going down a man in a 3-0 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The Hornets led 1-0 through Troy Deeney when Adrian Mariappa was sent off, and Deeney added another to go with an Ismaila Sarr goal.

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Watford moves three points back of safety with 16 points, two behind 18th place Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Pearson’s personality bleeding through: Watford was well in control of the match before the red card, which somehow further steeled them. The Hornets created five big chances to Villa’s one, and gave Watford fans plenty of reason to believe they’ll escape the drop zone soon.

2. Grealish, Villa all mixed up: Dean Smith has been under some heat despite a place in the League Cup semifinals and the delivery of Premier League promotion, and emotional captain Jack Grealish did him no favors by losing his focus on several occasions. The star was worried more about the referee than the play.

3. Deeney delivers again: Watford’s spirit animal was clearly a big absence for most of the season, and his brace was well-earned. He rarely does the things that amaze, but Deeney is consistently getting himself in scoring places and he sure can finish. He can be a huge part of any successful run.

Man of the Match: Deeney.


The first 24 minutes was missing the final pass, but a Watford giveaway gave Wesley a chance to nod a cross home. Ben Foster did well to save it.

Tom Heaton fumbled a ball that Abdoulaye Doucoure blazed over the goal in a rare bit of promise.

The Hornets went ahead when Deeney forced a turnover and Doucoure ripped a shot to force a parry out of Heaton. Deeney put the rebound under the keeper, sloppy but it counts.

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Mariappa complicated Watford’s task when he clattered into Henri Lansbury and collected a second yellow card.

Deeney earned a controversial penalty with a run into the box, and dispatched it into the goal for 2-0. Sarr added a third with a run into the 18, a deserved win.

Watch Live: Liverpool v. Watford

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Liverpool host Watford at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as top play bottom in the Premier League.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Fresh from signing a new contract extension, Jurgen Klopp‘s side are flying high with an eight-point lead at the summit. This is the start of a busy week as they play Aston Villa in the League Cup quarterfinal on Tuesday and then their Club World Cup semifinals against on Wednesday in Qatar as Klopp will put out two separate teams.

As for Watford, their new manager Nigel Pearson is in charge for his first game as Hornets boss as they currently sit six points from safety with just one win so far this season. That said, Pearson knows a thing or two about great escapes as he led Leicester to safety thanks to a dramatic comeback in 2014-15.

In team news Liverpool start with Xherdan Shaqiri in midfield, Joe Gomez at center back and James Milner at left back as Klopp shuffles his pack and copes with injuries.

Watford make two changes with Will Hughes and Adrian Mariappa come into the starting lineup.

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Red-hot Vardy leads Leicester past Watford

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Leicester City secured a seventh-straight Premier League win to remain in second place in the table, as Jamie Vardy‘s penalty kick and James Maddison‘s late goal beat Watford at the King Power Stadium.

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Vardy smacked home a penalty kick in the second half to keep the Foxes fine run going as Brendan Rodgers‘ side remain eight points off league leaders Liverpool, with Maddison putting the seal on a deserved win.

With the win Leicester have 35 points, while Watford remain bottom on eight points.

3 things we learned

1. Jamie Vardy is on fire: He was at it again as he set up Ayoze Perez in the first half, should have won a penalty kick and scored a penalty of his own to win it. Vardy has now scored in seven straight games to take his tally to this season to 13, and Watford were terrified of his runs on the last shoulder of their defense.

2. Watford solid, but unspectacular: Hayden Mullins, the caretaker boss of Watford, set his team up to be solid and they were, but going forward they showed little to suggest they can get themselves out of trouble. Troy Deeney started up top but had little support and Watford can take solace that they held their own at Leicester. They need to do more than that to push themselves off the bottom of the table.

3. Foxes grinding it out: This wasn’t vintage Leicester. Far from it. But just like they did against Everton last time out, they dug deep, kept working and did what they had to do to get all three points. They remain in the title race and although their silky attacking play got them there, dogged defensive displays will keep them there.

Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy – England fans will want him to return to international action and Vardy was a menace all game long. He is a player reborn and aside from his pace and finishing, he continues to create chances for his teammates. A superb overall display.


The Foxes almost took the lead early on as Jamie Vardy was played in down the wing and picked out Ayoze Perez but the Spaniard slid as he slammed over from 12 yards out. The offside flag had gone up but the replays showed Vardy was onside and the goal would have stood if Perez had finished.

Perez then fluffed his lines again soon after as the Spaniard was finding some gaps in the Watford defense.

Harvey Barnes then had a decent chance for Leicester as he was found on the edge of the box but he slammed his effort into the side-netting at the near post.

To their credit Watford dug deep as caretaker boss Hayden Mullins set his team up in a solid defensive unit and Leicester struggled to break them down. The Hornets did become more adventurous as the game wore on and gave a very good account of themselves in the first half.

Barnes was denied by Ben Foster just before the break as the Foxes continued to knock at the door. Vardy then went down in the box and was booked for diving but VAR checked the call and although it looked like Adrian Mariappa caught him, no penalty was awarded.

Leicester continued to push Watford back and had penalty shouts, one of which was given after Adam Masina was adjudged to have fouled Jonny Evans.

VAR was used and the penalty was given as Vardy slotted home to keep his run going of scoring in each of his last seven games, with nine goals in that run, as the Foxes dominated.

Caglar Soyuncu went close and Vardy then dinked over Foster but somehow Watford’s Masina cleared on the line.

Watford pushed for a late equalizer but were then caught by Maddison who sealed the win in style.