Brighton secured their first ever point in the Premier League against Watford at Vicarage Road on Saturday but it was a game that will be remembered for Miguel Britos’ horrific first-half sending-off.
With the ball played to the right-wing the Uruguayan rashly lunged in on Anthony Knockaert, completely leaving the ground, jumping in at him and catching his shin with a two-footed challenge.
There was little complaint from the player or the Watford fans and it left the door wide open for Brighton to claim a first ever victory in the Premier League. However, despite striking the woodwork on two separate occasions, through Knockaert and Tomer Hemed, the hosts held firm to claim a point.
Brighton will know they missed an opportunity
From the moment that Britos was sent off just before the half-hour mark there was a sense that Brighton could finally arrive in the Premier League and get a victory – but it didn’t work out like that.
Despite having nearly 60% of possession, having 16 shots on goal and having an extra man for the best part of 65 minutes they simply couldn’t grind out a goal against a well-drilled and extremely well-disciplined Watford side, and boss Chris Hughton will know that it was a massive missed opportunity.
The Brighton boss admitted that frustrations are growing after a third Premier League match without a goal, and speaking post-match he said:
“It is a concern [that Brighton are yet to score], yes, because on the balance of play and getting in areas we are, we should do better. We need to find a way to win these games, we hit the post twice and feel it is coming.”
It is certainly not all doom and gloom as far as the Seagulls are concerned, with a first point now on the board and the performances Knockaert and debutant Jose Izquierdo showing signs of promise.
Watford’s defence stands frim despite Britos madness
As much as Brighton will feel aggrieved at leaving London with just a solitary point, Marco Silva’s side put in an exemplary performance and showed that they have a lot of potential this campaign.
Considering the fact that first-team defenders Jose Holebas and Daryl Janmaat were already out of contention for Saturday, with Christian Kabasele coming into the side, their defensive resources were already being tested before the dismissal of Britos so to keep a clean sheet was a great effort.
On Saturday the Hornets’ make-shift back-line made 11 interceptions, 34 clearances and 14 blocks between them, putting in a monumental effort to ensure their unbeaten start to the year continued.
After a disappointing season last time out Silva has come in over the summer and already shown that this Watford side are capable of a top-half finish, being a much improved team 12 months on.
Knockaert’s return is critical for the Seagulls
Even the truest Brighton supporter would admit that their team struggled to get going in their opening two matches, only creating four chances across 180 minutes of football and failing to score.
There was far more of a cutting edge to their play at Vicarage Road – even if they didn’t manage to break down 10-man Watford – and it doesn’t take a genius to work out why they seemed livelier.
The return of talisman Anthony Knockaert provided a huge boost to Chris Hughton’s side, all of a sudden giving a sense of urgency and big attacking impetus in the final third, and he came the closest that either side came to scoring all match when his curling effort cannoned back off the post.
The 25-year-old had four shots, created three chances, put four crosses into the area and also attempted three take-ons in a promising display, and he can be the catalyst to push Brighton on.
He made a name for himself in the Championship by being a nuisance for defenders and, thankfully as far as Brighton are concerned, he looks like he is poised to continue his rich form in the top-flight.