Six things we learned from Brighton's draw at Burnley
Brighton took another step towards Premier League survival with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Burnley this afternoon. Here's six things we learned from the game.
One step closer to survival
Albion took another step towards Premier League safety with a hard-fought draw in a dull encounter at Turf Moor.
Chances were few and far between but victory at home to Manchester United on Friday evening will guarantee Brighton's place in the top flight next season.
The Seagulls could well stay up without picking up a point in their final three games anyway. They moved on to 37 points with the draw and are now five points clear of third-from-bottom Southampton and four clear of fourth-from-bottom Swansea - and the Swans host the Saints in the final week of the season.
Huddersfield - like Albion - have a tough finish to the season and they will be nervously looking over their shoulder. The Terriers complete their maiden Premier League campaign with matches at Manchester City and Chelsea and at home to Arsenal.
Albion fans backed left-back Gaetan Bong throughout this afternoon's match after he was subjected to boos from Burnley supporters.
Bong was booed every time he touched the ball by the home supporters, after Bong accused Burnley-born Jay Rodriguez, who made more than 100 appearances for the Clarets, of racially abusing him during the Seagulls' 2-0 defeat at West Brom in January.
The accusation was found to be 'not proven' by the FA earlier this month.
Burnley fans launched into a chorus of boos at Bong as soon as he touched the ball inside the opening minute and that continued throughout the match.
Brighton supporters chanted 'There's only one Gaetan Bong' to back their man and Seagulls boss Chris Hughton afterwards called the Burnley fans who booed Bong 'shameful'.
Bodies on the line
Albion put their bodies on the line to ensure they kept their first clean sheet of 2018.
A Johann Berg Gudmundsson free kick caused chaos in the Albion penalty area in the first half but somehow they kept the ball out of the net.
Ashley Barnes poked the ball goalwards from a matter of inches but Mathew Ryan kept it out and with Gaetan Bong prevented Barnes' follow-up and then Jack Cork from scoring.
The danger was not over, though, as James Tarkowski back-heeled the ball across goal and Kevin Long appeared to have the simple task of slotting it home from just three yards.
However, a combination of Shane Duffy and the post prevented the ball from going in. Burnley players and fans appealed for handball against Duffy but referee Roger East waved away their appeals and Brighton survived an almighty scare.
Was a draw really a surprise?
A draw - and 0-0 at that - should have come as little surprise to fans of both clubs.
The previous four meetings had ended honours even, including the 0-0 draw at the Amex in December.
Burnley went into today's game as the lowest home scorers in the Premier League, with just 15 goals, and Albion had scored the joint fewest away goals (now the lowest after West Brom won 1-0 at Newcastle).
Both teams lacked the quality in the final third today to make the breakthrough as defences were on top.
Three former Seagulls were in the Burnley starting line-up this afternoon and another was on the bench for the Clarets.
Ashley Barnes went into the game in outstanding form, with six goals in eight matches, and has scored 24 in total for Burnley in 134 matches since joining from Albion in January, 2014.
Barnes divided opinion among Brighton fans during his time at the club but was always fully committed and netted 49 goals in 162 games for the Seagulls.
Ward played for Albion on loan from Wolves in the 2013/14 season and then turned down a permanent move to the Seagulls to join Burnley in August, 2014.
Wood and Vokes also enjoyed loan spells with Brighton. Wood helped Albion lift the League One title in 2010/11, scoring nine goals in 31 matches, while Vokes - who came off the bench today - struck three times in 15 games during a five-month loan at the Amex in 2012.
A perfect model?
The way Burnley have established themselves in the Premier League in the past two seasons is a perfect model for Albion to try to emulate.
The Clarets did not panic when Sean Dyche took Burnley down in 2015 and they were rewarded as he took them straight back up into the top flight as champions of the Championship.
They stayed up with 40 points last season and this campaign have - it's fair to say - surprised everyone outside of Turf Moor by sitting in seventh place and on course to play in the Europa League next season.
Albion need another three points to stay up after the results today and will view Burnley - and other clubs such as Bournemouth - as an example to follow to ensure they remain in the top flight for years to come.
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