Match Review – Bournemouth 2-1 Brighton

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So, Brighton fail to win at Bournemouth. Brighton fail to win against an Eddie Howe managed team. In other shock news, the sky is blue, the grass is green and Taylor Swift has great legs.

Only once in the last 20 years have we won at Dean Court/Fitness First Stadium/Goldsands Stadium/Vitality Stadium. Its one of those places were nothing seems to go right. Still, at least we don’t have to go there again until…what, Tuesday? Oh shit.

That will no doubt be Bournemouth Stiffs v Brighton Stiffs. Which, given he was only on the bench on Friday , will mean the Albion having to face Jordon Ibe. Ibe changed the game when he was thrown on by Eddie Howe, setting up both of Bournemouth’s late goals. Until his introduction, they hadn’t had a sniff other than when Shane Duffy was suffering some wildly entertaining brain freeze moments.

Ibe set up the first with a cheeky little back heel to Andrew Surman and then he slipped in Jermaine Defoe five minutes later for the second. The defence parted like a certain sea named after a colour when confronted by a biblical figure from the Old Testament, and while Defoe’s finish was crisp, you simply cannot give a player of his quality that much time and space in the box. He will punish you everytime.

If anything, that highlights the difference between the Championship and the Premier League. Last season, we could afford to switch off defensively twice and still keep a clean sheet. This season, we’ve ended up losing a game because of it.

One of the reasons that Bournemouth – one of the best attacking sides in the division, lest we forget – didn’t force Maty Ryan into a save was because of Lewis Dunk. He was absolutely colossus at the back with Jamie Carragher raving about him on Sky afterwards. If Gareth Southgate isn’t watching and taking an interest then frankly, he is utterly mad.

Dale Stephens and Davy Propper ran the midfield. Quite how or why Propper is receiving so much criticism from sections of the Albion support is beyond us. Yes, he started the season slowly but he has got better with every game. Still, I suppose we need a player for people to irrationality dislike to follow in the fine footsteps of Oliver Norwood, Jake Forster-Caskey and Ashley Barnes.

Pascal Gross claimed another assist with a quite brilliant cross for Solly March to head home. Losing Gross to injury in the second half was a real blow and if he is out for any period of time then our creativity will drop by about 70%. It was his set pieces that led to us having one cleared off the line and rattling the bar, with that loose ball only needing to hit a body to go in. This being Bournemouth away where we seem to have all the luck of a bloke walking under a ladder indoors while carrying an umbrella, it didn’t.

Those chances aside, neither team really created a lot. The one glaring thing to come out of the game was our lack of pace going forward. Tomer Hemed is never going to get in behind a backline and that meant Bournemouth could push us far up the pitch, leaving Dunk and Duffy practically on the edge of our box for long periods. That’s where we need a Sam Baldock to run off of Hemed. The latest prognosis is Baldock should be fit in October, so expect him back about March time. Until then, perhaps it is time to unleash Senor Izquierdo from the start?

The bed wetting that has come out of this defeat means that Dreams will be doing a good turn this week with people having to replace waterlogged mattresses. It all seems a little over the top – Bournemouth are in a false position, we didn’t play badly and we never win there anyway. Onwards and upwards…to Bournemouth again on Tuesday. Shit

Match Preview – Brighton v Plucky Little Bournemouth

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Bournemouth – the team
Plucky little Bournemouth are at the heart of the greatest fairytale ever told. With nothing but a bag of magic beans, a billionaire Russian oligarch and financial fair play losses of £40m from the season they won promotion to the Premier League, they’ve risen from League Two to the top flight in just six years. This game represents the first ever meeting in the top division between Bournemouth and Brighton with the Sky Sports hype machine billing it as a “South Coast Derby despite us being nearly 100 miles apart. To put that in some perspective, it’s rather like saying Manchester United v Aston Villa is a local derby.

Bournemouth – the place
For some reason, plenty of supporters seem to think of Bournemouth as a must do away game. It’s really not. The ground is miles from the town centre and station and if you drive you can expect to be stuck in the car park at the end of a single lane road for anything up to two hours after the game. That is not where you want to be when the ball has just rolled under Wayne Henderson’s foot for a 91st minute Bournemouth winner. The town itself is decent and very Brighton-like in terms of partying, clubbing and being rammed with stag and hen parties so the only way its a must do trip is by overnighting it, which thanks to the Friday 8pm kick off has effectively been the only way if you don’t fancy car or coach.

Bournemouth – the people
I had to do a double take when reading this, but apparently Knocked Up and Pineapple Express actor Seth Rogen is a Bournemouth fan. This came about when he appeared on Soccer AM and, not having a team to support, he drew a side out of the hat which just so happened to be the Cherries. Slightly less famous is former Top of the Pops presenter Jayne Middlesmiss.

A good WeAreBrighton.com memory of Bournemouth away
Our record at the Vitality Stadium is pretty abysmal. Without bothering to look on the ever reliable Soccerbase, the only win in recent memory there was a 2-0 Tuesday night victory in 2007-08 being notable for Bas Savage scoring and moonwalking in front of the away support.

A bad WeAreBrighton.com memory of Bournemouth away
The aforementioned Hendersongate game was a pretty harrowing experience. The Albion number one miss-controlled and then slipped over a simple back pass, handing Brett Pittman an open goal and Bournemouth a 1-0 win in the final seconds. Henderson’s attempts to apologise to the away support at the end were met with a chorus of boos and he pushed through a move to Preston North End within a month, shortly after losing the gloves to Michel Kuipers. To make matters worse, it was New Years Day, we were hungover to hell and then got into an argument in the car park with a reasonably fit girl over Henderson’s cock up. Whenever we’ve seen her at away games since, she has been know as Henderson Girl. We even used NSC to try and set up a date with her at Southend away a few seasons later. Needless to say, she was a no show, much like her hero Wayne’s first touch.

Played for both
Gus Poyet sold both Tommy Elphick and Steve Cook to Bournemouth when the defensive duo were unable to get into the Albion team. They duly helped the Cherries from League One to the Premier League. Cook remains at the Vitality Stadium while Elphick, having captained that promotion winning Cherries team, is now at Aston Villa.

Dangermen
Jermaine Defoe joined Bournemouth from Sunderland in the summer and although he is yet to score for his new club, he almost always guarantees you 10-15 goals a season. Jordan Ibe is one of those players Howe bought with his magic beans – £15,000,000 worth of magic beans, no less – and whichever full back faces him could be in for a torrid evening.

Betting in association with https://sport.netbet.co.uk/football/
Bournemouth are yet to pick up a point so far this season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous opponents. You’d imagine Chris Hughton will set out defensively at the Vitality Stadium and the draw makes appeal at 12/5. Glenn Murray has a fine record of scoring against his former clubs – as we know only too well FFS. You can back him to score anytime at 13/5 as, even if he starts on the bench, he is certain to appear at some point.

Our OLBG betting blog for Bournemouth v Brighton

Prediction
A score draw, probably 1-1. We never win in Bournemouth, after all

Expectations for Brighton and Hove Albion FC

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Last season was one of elation for Brighton and Hove Albion, as they secured promotion back to the top flight for the first time in decades, but since the new Premier League season kicked off they have received a rude awakening to the realities of life there. Brighton managed just one point, and no goals, from their opening three matches – suggesting life was going to be tough for them.

There is no question that the start to the season was not what manager Chris Hughton or his players would have hoped for, but it should be recognised that they were playing favourites for the title Manchester City and a revitalised Leicester City in those two initial defeats.

These are not necessarily fixtures that anyone would have expected them to get points from before the season started – although there is no question that the poor start did derail a little of last season’s momentum. Brighton did not actually perform badly against City, frustrating the big money side for a long stretch of the game, only to succumb to a couple of late goals – but the first two matches did demonstrate that the team lacked much in the way of goal threat.

They failed to secure a striker before, meaning that they will be reliant on those that scored the goals to secure promotion – but they did manage to sign £13.5 million winger Jose Izquierdo, who they will be hoping will add some pace and provide the assists for their existing forwards once he settles in. They have also improved their squad in other areas by bringing in goalkeeper Matt Ryan and midfielder Davy Propper, and there have been encouraging signs in the last couple of matches.

Brighton got their season going with a narrow 1-0 home win over Barnet in the League Cup, before picking up their first point in a goalless draw away at Watford. But it was the most recent match that will have offered the most hope as they beat an in-form West Bromwich Albion at the Amex Stadium. Not only did this secure an essential first win, but Brighton also scored three goals – including a brace for Pascal Gross.

The really exciting thing for Brighton fans about this victory was that it was achieved by playing the kind of classy possession football that saw them promoted, demonstrating that it is possible for Brighton to get results at the higher level playing the same style of football.

Their failure to retain the ball or make decent use of it was at the heart of those two early defeats, so the return to their core principles in the last game offers real hope to their supporters that they are getting to grips with the league, although only the most fanatical among them are likely to take up the 750/1 odds on them emulating Leicester City’s Premier League triumph of two seasons ago.

If you are keen on both betting and football, a football themed slot game such as Soccer Safari available from online casino such as mobilecasino.co.nz – or betting on individual Brighton matches – might be a better option.

Match Review – Brighton 3-1 West Bromwich Albion

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Striker, what striker? We’ve always said that the Albion’s business in the transfer window was 10/10, and we’d certainly never Photoshop a grave stone predicting impending relegation due to not signing a new centre forward. And that positive attitude was justified as the Albion scored their first three Premier League goals and won their first three Premier League points of the season.

Pascal Gross scored twice in the 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion with Tomer Hemed capping a real shift as a loan striker with the third. Singer/songwriter James Morrison pulled one back for West Brom late on but that was too little, too late and in truth the Albion always looked likely to hold on for the three points.

Make no mistake about it, this was an impressive result. The Baggies came to the Amex having conceded just one goal so far this season yet we were all over them, playing attacking football and carving out plenty of chances. It did help that Ben Foster seemed to have taken the unusual step of smothering his gloves in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter before the game but take nothing away from the Albion or Chris Hughton who got his team selection and tactics spot on.

The result also went some way to banishing the Curse of Facing Tony Pulis. Nobody could remember a game when we had beaten a side managed by the baseball cap wearing pikey. The last time Pulis came to Brighton, his Stoke City team won 5-1 and the Withdean South Stand actively cheered Stoke’s last two goals and afforded hat-trick hero Adam Rooney a standing ovation.

The standing ovations here were reserved for the Albion and in particular man of the match Gross. He opened the scoring on the stroke of half time with what we are told was a crisp finish through a crowd after a Solly March cross. Unfortunately, we were in the queue for a beer when this went in, having confidently said no more than 10 minutes earlier, “The good thing about being in the Premier League is we won’t attack as much and so we won’t miss a goal if we go five minutes early.” There was more confidence in the statement of “Well it can’t happen again, can it” as we leisurely completed the flattest pint of Fosters the world has ever seen as the second half kicked off. Lo and behold another loud cheer emanated from the stadium as Gross made it 2-0, this time driving forward and hitting a shot that Foster really should’ve saved but didn’t.

Shortly after their was a minutes applause for John Motson who we hadn’t actually realised had died and then Gross teed up number three, an excellent cross from out on the right being met with an even better header from Hemed. It was the least the Israeli international deserved for his performance, especially in light of the fact that the club nearly offloaded him in the summer. A few more goals like that and there is no way he will be going anywhere.

West Brom looked a little better once they had thrown on new signings Kieran Gibbs and Oliver Burke from the bench and Morrison pulled one back with 15 minutes remaining.

The Albion had the ball in the net four times in actual fact, Foster’s buttery hands spilling a Solly March shot which Shane Duffy nodded home but he was rightly adjudged to be offside. Duffy was denied by Foster in the second half while Maty Ryan pulled off one save for the cameras in the opening 45 and made a smart one-on-one stop in injury time at the end of the game. The Australian goalkeeper seems to be growing in stature each week and his claiming of crosses was impeccable for a bloke who is shorter than Frodo Baggins.

Pulis himself was magnanimous in defeat, praising the Albion performance. High praise indeed coming from a man who knows exactly what it takes to survive in this league, having never been relegated in his career. If the Albion can play like that and Hughton shows the same attacking intent most weeks, then there is no reason why we cannot be taking points regularly off the “other 14” sides that don’t compose the big six.

And that can start next week away at Plucky Little Bournemouth against another manager who has a fantastic record against the Albion. We’ve broken the Pulis Curse, now lets wipe that smug little grin off the face of Eddie Howe. Seagulls.

Match Preview – Brighton v West Bromwich Albion

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West Brom – the team
The last time we faced West Bromwich Albion, John Major was on the throne, Charles and Diana were still married and somebody decided it would be a good idea to have blue and white striped shorts with the Albion’s home kit, making us look like a set of deck chairs. The year was 1992 and since then we’ve seemed destined never to play each other. Whenever we’ve been promoted to the Championship, they went up to the Premier League. Whenever they came down from the Premier League, we were relegated into League One. The Baggies have been a solid top flight team since 2010 and finished 10th last season under Tony Pulis, a man who although he may look like a pikey continues to get great results with moderately sized clubs. And small clubs, like Crystal Palace, of course.

West Brom – the place
Plenty of people think West Bromwich is just a suburb of Birmingham but it is actually a town in its own right, home to 75,000 odd people making it roughly twice the size of glamorous Burgess Hill. Its town hall is a Grade II listed building and the Hawthorns is the highest ground above sea level in the country. Remember that next time you are at a pub quiz.

West Brom – the people
Sour faced television presenter Adrian Chiles is famously a Baggies fan, as is Frank Skinner who also seems to be permanently miserable. We got rather excited when Wikipedia told us John Byrne came from West Brom, but unfortunately this turned out to be some comic book artist who moves to Canada at the age of eight rather than the fabulous Albion striker of the 1990s.

A good WeAreBrighton.com memory of West Brom at home
Given that your correspondent was only five last time West Brom came to Sussex, there aren’t actually any good memories to call upon. Scraping the barrel, but I did once pull a reasonably not West Brom fan while at university.

A bad WeAreBrighton.com memory of West Brom at home
Said reasonably hot West Brom fan never spoke to me again afterwards.

Played for both
We love loaning full backs from West Brom. Last season it was Sebastien Pocognoli who was excellent before moving permanently this summer to Standard Liege. Before that there were a couple of colourful characters in the 2011/12 season, Gonzalo Jara who missed a game when he was unexpectedly arrested on route for driving while banned and Joe Mattock who was ruled out of one match with what was described as a “male grooming injury”. Which essentially meant he cut his bollocks while shaving them.

Key men
England international Jake Livermore pulls the strings for West Brom in central midfield while we could also come up against former Albion youth team player Gareth Barry. It will be interesting to see if any of our supporters are able to notice him without him carrying a beach ball under his arm and a seagull on his head.

Betting
The draw is good value at a best priced 41/20. Given the way Anthony Knockaert played at Waford and with two more weeks training under his belts, the West Brom full backs could be in for a busy day and you can take him to score anytime at 10/3.

You can view our betting blog with OLBG here

Prediction
Some Albion fans seem to think this will be an easy game and three points is all but guaranteed. These people are either deluded, thick or most probably both. West Brom have a team of internationals across the park and in Pulis, a manager who always seems to beat us. Even when he was Palace manager in 2013-14 he managed to piss us off by turning them from Premier League laughing stock into the form team in the second half of the season. We’re plumping for a 1-1 draw. Surely we’ve got to score by now?

Tony Bloom’s Moneyball method of finding success

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Tony Bloom, professional gambler and owner of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, is a notoriously elusive figure. Professional bettors are understandably keen to remain hidden in the shadows, out of sight of the media. They make their millions by correctly predicting the outcome of sporting fixtures. If their methods are disclosed, they could lose their all-important edge. As such, it is incredibly hard to find any substantial information on Bloom or his methods. However, a new book called The Football Code has given some ground-breaking insights into Bloom’s background, how his betting consultancy StarLizard operates, and how the Albion use Bloom’s data to recruit players.

Before taking over Brighton and Hove Albion FC in 2009, Bloom operated as a professional poker player. He claims that he fell in love with gambling at the same time as he fell in love with football, at the age of about eight. His first major win came in 2004 when, at the age of thirty-four, Bloom won the Australasian Poker Championship in Melbourne, collecting the first prize of around £180,000. By 2008, his live tournament winnings exceeded £1,200,000. His unwavering poker face led him to be nicknamed The Lizard.

He drew inspiration from this nickname when founding his betting consultancy, Starlizard, in 2006. Besides running this company and forging a successful poker career, Bloom has also been the chairman of Brighton since securing 75% shareholding in 2009. He has invested over £250m of his own personal fortune in the club, steering the Seagulls from League One to the Premier League in a matter of seasons. Bloom’s net worth is estimated by some to run into the billions.

StarLizard employ nearly one hundred analysts to collect unique match data from multiple football leagues across Europe. Bloom uses this data in two capacities. Firstly, the stats allow him to turn over hundreds of millions of pounds each year for StarLizard. The company sells data to professional gamblers in the same way that a company like Opta sells data to the media. These high-rolling clients pay StarLizard for stats which they can use to inform their betting. The company also place bets of its own accord, and Bloom spearheads one of the largest gambling syndicates in Europe. More on this can be found in The Football Code.

In addition to using the data to achieve success with StarLizard, Bloom also deploys it to recruit players for Brighton. His innovative models allow the Seagull’s scouting team to work out which players are actually performing well, and which are simply lucky. This allows Brighton a more accurate assessment of the ability of their targets, giving them an edge over rival clubs. They can pick up good players for rock-bottom prices, whilst avoiding making too many expensive mistakes in the transfer market. This analytical philosophy has drawn comparisons with Billy Beane’s ‘Moneyball’ approach in baseball.

Brighton also have an advantage in the fact that they own their own data company. Whilst almost every other club in English football has to buy their own data from Opta, Prozone or a similar company, Brighton can generate their own unique data through StarLizard, without having to pay a penny. The only other clubs in England with their own statistical analysis companies are Brentford (Smartodds) and Arsenal (StatDNA). Whilst Brighton may have failed to sign a striker in the transfer window, fans should seek comfort in the fact that their owner has given them an all-important edge over the competition.

For more on the secret methods that have allowed Bloom to make his millions, the unique data which StarLizard have used to find success and the system behind how Brighton actually sign players, you can purchase The Football Code here

Tomer Hemed injured on international duty

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Some alarming news coming out of the Israel camp with Tomer Hemed having apparently picked up an injury while on international duty.

Raphael Gellar, a freelance journalist who covers Israel for the BBC, tweeted earlier today “Some alarming news for Brighton fans. Tomer Hemed will be a match-time decision for tonight’s match vs. Italy. Appears to have injury.”

There is no news as to what this injury may be, but the fact he is a doubt for his countries World Cup Qualifier with Italy tonight is a major concern given the Albion face a vital home game against West Bromwich Albion in five days time.

We are sure you don’t need reminding, but we are going to do it anyway, that the club failed to sign a single striker during the summer transfer window, leaving us to rely on Hemed, Sam Baldock and Glenn Murray.

Baldock and Murray are already on the injured list and should Hemed join them, we will be facing West Brom and our first realistic chance of three home Premier League points without a recognised striker.

Of course, he may have just stubbed his toe but we wouldn’t be Brighton fans if we didn’t start panicking hysterically without knowing all the facts.

Either way, it’s another example (as if we needed one) of why not signing a striker is a catastrophic cock up on the part of the club, no matter how much they or the players tell us it isn’t.

Transfer window shuts with Brighton failing to buy a striker

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The summer transfer window has officially shut, and Brighton and Hove Albion have failed to sign a new striker. Enjoy the Premier League while it lasts folks, because we probably aren’t going to be in it for very long.

To stay up, you need goals. Ask any Middlesbrough fan about their experience from last season. Aitor Karanka tried to 0-0 them to safety and it failed as they became arguably the most boring team in the top flight since football was invented by Sky Sports in 1992. If we follow his lead and draw every game 0-0 from now until the end of the season, we will finish on 36 points. That probably won’t be enough to stay up.

Going into the summer, Brighton and Hove Albion had three strikers on the books. Sam Baldock who has never played in the Premier League before. Tomer Hemed who has never played in the Premier League before. Glenn Murray who has played fleetingly in the Premier League before. We looked extremely goal shy and even Stevie Wonder could see that the most important position we needed filling was a centre forward who could score at that level.

We knew we would be a Premier League side as long ago as April 17th – 136 days ago – and we could start signing players officially on July 1st. The club and those responsible for recruitment have had, quite literally, months to put together a list of players that would suit our needs. We scout all over the world. How hard is it to come up with a list of 10, even 20 strikers and then work your way through that list until you find one you can afford, who wants to come here and will be an improvement on what you already have? The recruitment team have a lot to answer for on this front, bearing in mind they are presumably on handsome wages and have seemingly failed to do the one glaring thing they needed to. If Da Vinci forgot to paint Jesus when he was commissioned to do The Last Supper, we’re pretty certain he’d have been in the shit too.

One phrase we are certain to hear as Paul Barber tries to spin his way out of this is “The market is difficult” (square number four on Profit Paul Bingo for those playing). But the market is difficult for everyone, and other clubs have managed it. It isn’t like we were asking the Albion to outbid PSG for Neymar or hijack a deal for Romelu Lukaku. We just needed someone.

That has been obvious for over a year. It was sheer luck we got through last season with only three strikers while playing two up front, Baldock’s late injury aside – which, lest we forget, coincided with our collapse in form that threw away the title. Baldock is again out and Murray is also in the treatment room with an injury that Chris Hughton doesn’t want to put a time frame on. With our history of misreporting absence lengths, we’ll be lucky to see him again this side of Christmas.

So really, while it would’ve been nice to sign a quality 20 goal striker, that would’ve just been a bonus. What we needed, more than anything, was another body. We are now stuck for the forseeable future with only Tomer Hemed – a man who we were apparently willing to listen to offers for from mid table Championship clubs less than a fortnight ago. In the unlikely event that Jose Izquierdo turns out to be some sort of Thierry Henry who can actually play up front, we have one fit striker. And if he gets crocked? Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? And, reading between the lines of Hughton’s post match interview at Watford, it is something he doesn’t want to think about. We can’t imagine he is overly impressed with the situation but of course is far too professional to say so.

Even those with the most blue and white tinted spectacles must be concerned. We’ve clearly got a good supply line in place, Anthony Knockaert, Solly March and Pascal Gross created chance after chance at Watford. Not to mention Izqueirdo and Izzy Brown to return. But what is the point in cooking up a really nice steak meal if you’ve got no fit girl to come and finish it off with you? That’s what happened at Watford and that, in a microcosm, is probably what we can expect for the rest of the season now.

It seems utterly bizarre to have waited 34 years to make a return to the top flight of English football, and then not go out and get the one thing above all else that will give you a fighting chance of staying there. Let’s hope it isn’t a gamble that we live to regret.

Brighton set to sign two new defenders

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In what is shaping up to be a busy transfer deadline day, Brighton and Hove Albion are set to add two new defenders to their squad.

Italian right back Ezequiel Schelleto is to join for a fee of around £2m from Sporting Lisbon and he will be joined by our 400th signing of the summer from the Belgian League, centre back Stefano Denswil on a season long loan from Brugge.

Schelleto has spent most of his career in Italy, playing with the likes of Atalanta, Inter Milan, Parma and Chievo. He joined Sporting in November 2015 and has since played 34 games for the Portugese giants. Schelleto made his debut for Italy against England in 2012 in what remains his only cap.

A quick Google of Scheletto made us think we’d actually Googled a quite attractive woman by mistake. He has a very feminine face and, were it not for the fact he has a little beard, if we bumped into him on Pryzm on a Saturday night we would almost definitely try chatting him up. He is expected to provide competition to both Bruno and Liam Rosenior.

As for Denswil, he has been capped up to under 21 level by the Netherlands and previously played for Ajax before joining Club Brugge, where he has played with both Maty Ryan and Jose Izqueirdo.

Denswil’s arrival will free up Conor Goldson for a loan move to Ipswich Town, where he can play some much needed first team football after his recovery from a heart operation last season. Denswil will as a result be fourth choice centre back behind Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and Uwe Hunemeier.

Denswil could well form a promising partnership with “Google Me” Duffy. In 2013, he appeared naked in a photo with a girl on Instagram after he’d slept with her. The caption on the photo read “Lekker ploppen met Stefano Denswil” which translates to “Good luck with Stefano Denswil”. Ajax manager Frank de Boer was not amused by the incident but acknowledged that there was little Denswil could have done to prevent it from happening, and asked that he stay focused on his career and not let the incident be a distraction.

These deals are of course certain to the players passing medicals which given all that has happened this summer is far from a formality.

There remains no news on a striker as of yet, but if we can pick up another 35 0-0 draws then…no, we won’t stay up actually will we?

Match Review – Watford 0-0 Brighton

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One point gained or two points dropped? That was the big question when leaving Vicarage Road on Saturday after the Albion had picked up their first Premier League points of the campaign.

If you offered us a point before the game against Watford we’d have maybe not bitten your hand of but at least had a chew on a couple of fingers. But playing against 10 men for over an hour in a game we dominated did make this feel very much like an opportunity missed.

This probably comes as a surprise to everyone reading, but what we lacked was a striker who could put the ball in the back of the net. We created so many chances and we hit the woodwork twice yet still couldn’t manage to score. With Tomer Hemed the only fit senior striker and plenty of questions over whether he is up to the standard or indeed even has a future at the club, getting a new striker in before the window shuts is now a matter of urgency. Chris Hughton was rumoured to have taken a phone call on Saturday from Stevie Wonder telling him we need a centre forward and fast. Without one, it’s hard to see us staying up.

Right, that’s the depressing facts of the matter out of the way. There were plenty of positives. Anthony Knockaert looked back to his unplayable best to the point where Miguel Britos was sent off for not being able to cope with him inside the first 25 minutes. It was a horrible challenge; yes, Britos had to make the foul as otherwise Knockaert was away but he didn’t need to try and snap his leg into several pieces. We’d love to know how much ketamine the Watford fans describing it as harsh afterwards and booing Knockaert’s every touch had taken to have such a warped view of reality.

Both Knockaert and Tomer Hemed hit the post in the first half while the Albion were getting real joy out wide, Solly March in particular looking very good. Nathaniel Chalobah had a header cleared off the line by Lewis Dunk in Watford’s only real chance.

The second half was a similar story, despite the half time substitution of Bruno who endured a chastening afternoon in which he received a deserved booking early on, and looked like a red card waiting to happen before the break. Liam Rosenior replaced him and slotted in seamlessly at the back. Good to have him back after last seasons injury woes.

Knockaert was denied by Huerilhio Gomes and Hemed put another chance wide. Hughton eventually summoned record signing Jose Izquierdo from the bench with nine minutes remaining.

While Hughton obviously wanted to ensure we didn’t lose the game, it seemed like a negative move to wait so long to introduce a player whose pace could’ve stretched a tiring defence and opened up more spaces and opportunities. Plenty was made of his negative style of management in the Premier League with Norwich and giving Izquierdo a good half hour would’ve been bold but it might have won us the game.

It was hard to tell in such a short space of time how good the Colombian will be. He is quicker than Troy Deeney to an all you can eat buffet, let one powerful shot go after cutting inside and sprinted back to put in an excellent last ditch tackle. More time is needed though before we can properly judge despite some of the more special elements of the Albion support declaring him a rip roaring success already.

You’ve got to think he will be unleashed from the start in our next game in two weeks time against West Bromwich Albion. And hopefully that will be along with a new striker, whether that be Shane Long, Deeney or somebody from Europe none of us have ever heard of but can get excited about because he looks good on YouTube.

Without one, it could be a long season.


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