Graham Potter

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.

PL Club Power Rankings: Week 21

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The festive fixtures shook up our weekly litmus test less than we expected.

Maybe it’s the sheer volume of games that seemingly leveled the playing field of a pretty even league more than usual.

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The transfer market may shake up the game a bit more.

At least our club power rankings can exhale for a week while the FA Cup takes the wheel.

Green: New season-high ranking
Red: New season-low

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings archive ]


20. Norwich City — We keep reading about how laudable it is that Daniel Farke wants his team to play attractive football, but it could cost them big time. At least we get to watch Emiliano Buendia on a weekly basis.
Last week: 19
Season high: 10
Season low: 20
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Manchester United

19. Bournemouth — Injuries have taken their toll, and the Cherries may well have real reason to worry about their PL lives.
Last week: 17
Season high: 6
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 4-0 at West Ham
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Jan. 12 v. Watford

18. Burnley — The “Lump It To Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes Show” hasn’t been pretty lately.
Last week: 8
Season high: 5
Season low: 15
Last match: Lost 2-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Chelsea

17. Aston Villa — Allowing 2.3 more shots per game than any other team on the table, so they need to score plenty. And they just lost their starting center forward for the year.
Last week: 18
Season high: 8
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 at Burnley
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Jan. 12 v. Man City

16. Newcastle United — The luck’s run out; Ten of 22 senior players are hurt, and three of them are their very best on show (Allan Saint-Maximin, Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar). It’s going to be a (another) rough few weeks that looks likely to end with the Magpies barely outside the drop zone.
Last week: 11
Season high: 11
Season low: 20
Last match: Lost 3-0 v. Leicester City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Wolves

15. West Ham United — David Moyes saw the talent of his attack in a blowout of off-kilter Bournemouth. Can they do the same away at Bramall Lane?
Last week: 16
Season high: 5
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 4-0 v. Bournemouth
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Jan. 10 at Sheffield United

14. Watford — If Gerard Deulofeu has found his form under Nigel Pearson, it’s gonna be a quick ride out of the drop zone.
Last week: 18
Season high: 14
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Wolves
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Jan. 12 v. Bournemouth

13. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl is truly improving the side. Let’s see what January brings off the field, because the festive period was a massive success.
Last week: 15
Season high: 13
Season low: 20
Last match: Won 1-0 v. Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Leicester City

12. Crystal Palace — Just one loss in its last eight, with four draws mixed in there, but the schedule was asking for wins with Arsenal and Man City up next.
Last week: 12
Season high: 5
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Norwich City
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Arsenal

11. Arsenal — Have to hand it to Mikel Arteta for calculating that Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira could hold it down in the back while his four-man attack ran wild on Manchester United. Helps that Marcus Rashford didn’t play well. Now who will they add, and subtract?
Last week: 13
Season high: 4
Season low: 13
Last match: Won 2-0 v. Manchester United
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Crystal Palace

10. Brighton and Hove Albion — Graham Potter‘s done very well, and we’d be surprised if the Seagulls look in trouble at any point this season. What a goal, too.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 18
Last match: Drew 1-1 v. Chelsea
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 at Everton

9. Everton — Getting there! Should be some good football on show when they meet Brighton, but Sunday’s FA Cup derby with Liverpool will be even more fun.
Last week: 14
Season high: 5
Season low: 19
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Brighton

8. Sheffield United — There’s reason to believe the pesky Blades might have hit a rut, even as well as Chris Wilder has done and will continue to do. No one’s averaging fewer shots per game.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-0 v. Liverpool
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Jan. 10 v. West Ham

7. Wolves — Maybe the Top Four was asking too much, and Wolves ought to look at UEL as their best route to the UCL.
Last week: 4
Season high: 3
Season low: 17
Last match: Lost 2-1 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Newcastle 

6. Spurs — It’s been an ugly few weeks, but Jose Mourinho’s men sit sixth due to everyone else’s inability to function during the festive fixtures.
Last week: 6
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 1-0 at Saints
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Liverpool

5. Manchester United — It’s a good thing injuries can’t cost you too many spots on the power rankings. These men need midfielders. Send help.
Last week: 9
Season high: 2
Season low: 16
Last match: Lost 2-0 at Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Norwich City

4. Chelsea — Uneven, but even so. Good looking retro jersey.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 12
Last match: Drew 1-1 at Brighton
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Burnley

3. Leicester City — A tenuous No. 3 at best, but had the right plan to clobber Newcastle.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 10
Last match: Won 3-0 at Newcastle United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Jan. 11 v. Saints

2. Manchester City — Still far and away the best attack in the league.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 6
Last match: Won 2-1 v. Everton
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Jan. 12 at Aston Villa

  1. Liverpool — The league is theirs, but invincible talk still feels insanely premature. Well, at least in terms of reality. It’s always fun to discuss, regardless of maturity. Absolutely cruised past Sheffield United.
    Last week: 1
    Season high: 1
    Season low: 3
    Last match: Won 2-0 v. Sheffield United
    Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Jan. 11 at Spurs

Premier League midseason grades

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We are at the halfway point of the Premier League season, so now seems like a good time to dish out grades to each team.

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Based on the opening half of the 2019-20 campaign, which teams have impressed? Who should be doing better?

Below we give grades on all 20 teams and evaluate their first half of the season.


Arsenal: F
Unai Emery was fired, defensively they are all over the place and Arsenal currently sit closer to the bottom three than the top four. A terrible season so far and former captain Mikel Arteta has a huge job on his hands to make them competitive again. The only saving grace is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to bang in the goals. Aside from that, shambles.


Aston Villa: D-
A decent enough start as Dean Smith‘s side showed plenty of promise after big spending in the summer but things have unraveled very quickly. Jack Grealish is doing his best but Wesley has struggled and defensively they are weak. A relegation battle beckons for Villa, and that was not expected. Smith is on borrowed time.


Bournemouth: D
Eddie Howe‘s side are in their toughest stretch since being promoted in 2015 and aside from their defensive injuries, the biggest concern is that they no longer seem capable of scoring at least two goals every game. The Cherries are slumping and it may be tough for them to turn this around. Losing Brooks to injury was a huge blow, while Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser have gone off the boil.


Brighton and Hove Albion: B+
Graham Potter has had a huge impact. Brighton have gone from being one of the worst teams in the PL to watch to one of the best. Trossard and Maupay have been big attacking additions and the Seagulls should be clear of the relegation scrap. A brave hire in Potter has paid off, as he’s already signed a new deal at the Amex.


Burnley: C+
Typically Burnley. Tough to play against, grinding out wins at home and they’ve gone back to being solid defensively. Chris Wood, Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Barnes give them extra firepower and the Clarets should be battling for a top 10 finish.


Chelsea: B+
A proper Jekyll and Hyde season for the Blues who have lost at home against some very poor teams but won at Spurs, Arsenal and have pushed the big boys all the way. Frank Lampard has kept faith in the youngsters with Abraham, Mount and Tomori ever present, while Pulisic is coming in to his own. A UCL last 16 berth was a huge bonus and sitting in the top four at midway is much better than many expected. They now have the added bonus of being able to buy new players in January.


Crystal Palace: B+
Roy Hodgson continues to work miracles with a banged up squad and the fact Wilfried Zaha is finally refocused (close to the January transfer window…) has pushed them away from the bottom three. Palace need to spend some money in January to help them stay midtable, while Gary Cahill has been the bargain of the season so far as a free agent.


Everton: C-
Marco Silva was a disaster and had he stayed, the Toffees were likely going down. Duncan Ferguson galvanized the squad as interim boss and made them hard to beat, while Carlo Ancelotti has arrived to add his experience. Big names players will arrive in January and the summer. Things are looking up for Everton who have too much quality to go down.


Leicester City: A+
Pretty much the perfect season so far as Brendan Rodgers side have a 9-0 win on the board, Jamie Vardy is in the form of his life and the Foxes sit second in the table and are looking good for a top four finish with a young, talented squad also in the League Cup semifinals. Their title hopes are done and dusted but a top four finish would be a superb return, especially after selling Harry Maguire in the summer.


Liverpool: A+
Talking of perfect seasons… Liverpool could legitimately go the entire campaign unbeaten and even though they probably played better last season they are grinding out wins this season. Jurgen Klopp‘s side have that psychological edge over the rest of the PL and even though they have had some injuries to key players, they’ve dealt with it with ease. 17 wins from 18 games is incredible and Sadio Mane has been the star man for the newly-crowned World Club Cup champs. They will soon become the PL champs as their title procession has begun.


Manchester City: B-
Their inability to sign a new center back in the summer has come back to hit them hard. Kompany left and Aymeric Laporte‘s injury means that Fernandinho has had to play as a center back, and Otamendi and Stones just haven’t been good enough. Full back is also an issue and even though Kevin De Bruyne is firing on all cylinders and they look great in attack, City are back to the team they were in Pep Guardiola‘s first season in charge. They will soon go all-in on the Champions League.


Manchester United: B
Very similar to Chelsea as their young side have shown glimpses of brilliance but they’ve lost against Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Watford and Bournemouth. Defensively they are still coughing up easy goals and David De Gea is having a poor season, by his high standards. That said, Rashford, Martial and James are looking very good as a trio, while Maguire and Wan-Bissaka have slotted in seamlessly. Finding the right balance in central midfield in the second half of the season will be key if they are going to finish in the top four, but wins against Man City, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester, plus their draw against Liverpool, prove they can mix it with the big boys. Finding consistency has to be their biggest aim for 2020.


Newcastle United: B+
Results wise it has been an amazing first half of the season for the Magpies and much-maligned boss Steve Bruce. They aren’t great to watch, at all, but Newcastle are almost closing in on the magic 40-point marker and are solid defensively. For now the natives at St James’ Park are on their side and Bruce has weathered the early storm. Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Joelinton need to produce more goals and if they do, Newcastle can push for the top 10.


Norwich City: C
The Canaries are punching above their weight week in, week out. Daniel Farke is a very good coach and he’s getting the best out of his limited squad, while Teemu Pukki is getting the goals to keep them competitive. Todd Cantwell is a gem and Norwich have had to deal with lots of injuries defensively. The only major negative is that they have been playing really well and attacking teams but they are a little naive and have been punished in plenty of games. It will be a huge surprise if they stay up.


Sheffield United: A-
Another newly-promoted team who have been open and attacking but the Blades have the defensive stability to get results. Chris Wilder‘s side are pushing for a top six finish and have only lost once away from home, at Man City, in the opening half of the season. From their overlapping center backs to Mousset, McGoldrick and McBurnie up top, they have been a wonderful addition to the PL. Fleck, Lundstram and Norwood are all so underrated too. Basically you can praise this entire team as Wilder has done a wonderful job keeping their identity intact while adapting to the PL.


Southampton: C
Probably where they should be at, just above the relegation zone. Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side have recovered well from the 9-0 hammering at home by Leicester and in Danny Ings they have a Matt Le Tissier-esque savior. Ings scores almost every game and in Moussa Djenepo they have another top attacking talent. Saints need defensive reinforcements in January and if they can add quality at the back they should kick on in the second half of the season and be clear of danger. That said, the ownership need to realize that a relegation scrap will be the outcome each season until they make more funds available to spend.


Tottenham Hotspur: C+
Where do we even start with Spurs? Mauricio Pochettino was fired after a terrible start to the league season as problems brewing with players not signing new deals and Daniel Levy over transfers carried over from the summer months. Step in, the Special One. Jose Mourinho has added a cutting edge to this Spurs side and he’s refocused them. Defensively they are shambolic and they miss captain Hugo Lloris. Mourinho’s main aim is a top four finish and to go on another deep run in the UCL.


Watford: D-
The Hornets are on their third manager of the season and they’ve finally got going. Javi Gracia was fired quickly after a poor end to last season and a poor start this time around, then former boss Quique Sanchez Flores didn’t last long before Nigel Pearson arrived. Big wins against Man United and Aston Villa have followed and has them within touching distance of safety but it is still a tough road ahead. Troy Deeney‘s return to fitness is a boost and Watford believe now they can stay up with veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster in fine form.


West Ham United: F
The Hammers have hired David Moyes to replace the man who replaced him, Manuel Pellegrini. This will be very interesting. West Ham had a great start but have wavered badly and that has coincided with Lukasz Fabianski‘s injury. Now he is back and Moyes has returned they will be tougher to beat and Anderson, Haller, Antonio and Fornals have the quality to unlock opposition defenses. Still, a relegation battle is coming up and the Hammers ownership would have wanted a top six finish. They are underachieving massively.


Wolverhampton Wanderers: A-
Could they build on last season? Yep. They are probably better. Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore have improved in attack and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side will be in the top four hunt this season. They are in the Europa League last 32 after a gruelling run of qualifiers and Thursday-Sunday action but their main focus will be on qualifying for the Champions League. They can take it to the top teams in the PL but how long can they keep going with a relatively small squad?

Watch Live: Brighton v. Bournemouth

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Brighton and Hove Albion host Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NNCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a massive South Coast derby at the Amex Stadium.

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The Seagulls and Cherries have both been sucked into the relegation battle after poor recent results and the two young, ambitious managers in Graham Potter and Eddie Howe know their teams have to start improving defensively.

In team news Brighton make seven changes from their loss at Tottenham with Lewis Dunk, Neal Maupay, Yves Bissouma, Leandro Trossard, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Martin Montoya and Davy Propper coming in.

Bournemouth make five changes from their draw with Arsenal as Sergio Rico, Harry Wilson, Philip Billing, Junior Stanislas and Dominic Solanke start.

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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.