Brighton Hove beat Burnley 2 – 1. The victory, courtesy of goals from Yves Bissouma and Aaron Connolly, means the Seagulls finish 15th with 41 points – one better than the total achieved in the 2017-18 season. Brighton recorded their highest Premier League points total as they completed their campaign with an impressive win at Burnley.
The Seagulls rattled the Clarets during the opening 30 minutes and took the lead through Malian Bissouma, who marked his first Premier League goal with wonderful side-foot strike from 25 yards.
It should have been 2-0 seconds after the restart when Neal Maupay, the club’s top scorer this season with 10 goals, headed Tariq Lamptey’s cross against the bar.
Burnley, without five key first-team players including skipper Ben Mee, looked off the pace in the first half but managed to level just before the break when Chris Wood fired in with a low shot. However, it was again advantaged Brighton five minutes after the restart when Connolly shrugged off an attempted challenge by Kevin Long on the left before threading his angled shot past Nick Pope.
The Seagulls’ stubborn defence was then pushed to the limit by waves of Burnley attacks. It seemed the home side had equalised again when Jay Rodriguez headed in – but a video assistant referee check ruled that team-mate Wood was offside.
Despite the defeat, Sean Dyche has led his modestly-priced squad to a second top-10 finish in five Premier League seasons.
Brighton’s defence keeps Burnley at bay
Brighton’s style of play may have changed under manager Graham Potter, but one thing that has remained constant from the Chris Hughton era is the miserly defence.
In fact, Potter has made them a tighter outfit, conceding 1.42 goals per game this season compared to 1.57 in 2018-19 when they also finished just above the drop zone. Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy were the mainstays in central defence back then, but this season it has been Dunk and £20m signing Adam Webster.
Both acted as barricades on Sunday, repelling Burnley’s physical attack and aerial assaults. Dunk was particularly outstanding and made a superb block to deny Kevin Long. With centre-back, Ben White set to return to the south coast from a very successful loan spell at Leeds, expect Brighton to be even tougher to break down next season.
As for the attack, which is not as widely hailed, it caused Burnley plenty of consternation in the opening half. Bissouma’s strike was the standout moment, but both Maupay and Connolly excelled. The expected free capture of former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana will add to the creativity behind the front-line.
Questions remain as Burnley end on low note
Dyche might use this match to highlight how threadbare his squad can look with a handful of injuries. His bench again featured a group of inexperienced youngsters, with several first-team players sidelined.
Last month, the manager publicly stated his gripes with the board regarding his squad, and has since been asked about his future at the Clarets who, in many people’s eyes, have overachieved since their return to the top flight in 2016.
The usually robust defence looked flimsy at times on Sunday. Little could have been done to stop Bissouma’s strike, which effectively ended Pope’s hopes of winning the Premier League Golden Glove, but Long should have done better to hold off Connolly for the second goal.
In attack, Wood took his goal well, controlling Erik Pieters’ perfect pass before slotting in, while the hard-working Jay Rodriguez will be aggrieved his second-half header was chalked off by VAR because Wood was offside.
The Clarets finish 10th – an achievement that should be celebrated – but questions remain over Dyche’s future.
Source – BBC News
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