Six things we learned from Brighton's draw with Bournemouth
Brighton twice led but were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Bournemouth this afternoon. Here's six things we learned from the game.
Quickly up and running
Anthony Knockaert had the honour of scoring the first Premier League goal of 2018 in just the fifth minute of the new year.
In the first top-flight game of the year, Albion made a bright start and Knockaert struck on five minutes as he finished off a lovely passing move from a tight angle after Jose Izquierdo squared the ball from the left.
Brighton had scored the first goal of the new millenium on January 2, 2000, when Darren Freeman struck early on in a 4-2 victory against Exeter at the Withdean Stadium in the bottom tier of the Football League.
It's been quite a story for the Seagulls since and today was the third time the teams have met on New Year's Day in recent times.
Alex Revell netted a hat-trick when Albion beat the Cherries 3-2 in League One in 2008, while Stephen Ward struck a late equaliser at the Amex four years ago when the sides drew 1-1.
Honours again ended even today as Steve Cook and Callum Wilson equalised inbetween Glenn Murray putting the Seagulls 2-1 ahead.
New year, same problem
Again, there's talk of Albion conceding from corners.
Steve Cook got ahead of Shane Duffy - who has since held his hands up for the goal - to head Bournemouth's first equaliser from a flag-kick, before the Cherries' second came following a goalmouth scramble from another corner.
Manager Chris Hughton admitted afterwards that Albion have been working on defending corners but they are conceding too many goals from set-pieces and it's something they quickly need to eradicate.
Stoke, Huddersfield, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and now Bournemouth have all scored from set-pieces in the past two months against the Seagulls.
A welcome two-week break until the next league match - albeit with a crunch FA Cup clash with arch rivals Crystal Palace inbetween - gives Albion plenty of time to work on defending set-pieces.
Too many lost points?
Although they're still 12th in the top flight, you wonder how costly lost points will be for Brighton come the end of the season.
Any point in the Premier League is tough to come by and Albion's 23 point haul from 22 games is still highly respectable. But it could be so much better.
Away to Watford, Albion played ten men for more than an hour but only came away with a 0-0 draw. They led 1-0 away to Bournemouth and looked in control but lost 2-1.
Everton equalised with a last-minute penalty at the Amex and Albion would have liked at least a win or two - instead of five draws - from home matches with Southampton, Stoke, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Bournemouth.
On the flip side, Albion were perhaps fortunate to return home with all three points from Swansea after the hosts smashed the bar in injury-time, while Watford missed a glorious chance with the last kick in Brighton's 1-0 win last month.
You can't help but think the Seagulls are maybe two, three or four points short of where they'd like to be.
Matches at West Brom and Southampton later this month are going to be huge, while February also looks a key month with home matches against West Ham and Swansea and a trip to Stoke.
Jose on song
Club record signing Jose Izquierdo starred on the left wing today as he set up both Brighton goals and caused the Bournemouth defence no end of problems.
The pacy Columbian winger - in and out of the starting line-up in recent weeks - has looked subdued at times but today was his best performance for the club.
He set up Anthony Knockaert's opener and then unselfishly laid the second goal on a plate for Glenn Murray. Albion boss Chris Hughton and Murray were both full of praise for Izquierdo afterwards and the challenge for him now is to take this performance into the rest of the season.
The only criticism of the 25-year-old will be he should have got his name on the scoresheet. He flashed a shot wide in the first half, then was denied by Asmir Begovic from close range on the stroke of half-time, before he broke from inside his own half to get through one-on-one in the second period but was again denied by the Cherries stopper.
Entertaining game on a heavy pitch
The match was the fourth in nine days for both Albion and the Cherries but it was entertaining throughout on a draining heavy pitch.
There were 42 attempts at goal - 15 for Brighton and 27 for Bournemouth - and 17 corners, with 12 of them for the Cherries.
It would have been a cracking game for the neutral watching on Sky Sports and, overall, a draw was probably the fair result. However, having led twice Chris Hughton said it was two points dropped for the Seagulls.
Cherries boss Eddie Howe felt the soft pitch was behind a lack of quality in the closing stages of the game.
Ibe shines again
Jordon Ibe again shone for Bournemouth and caused Albion no end of problems - just like he did in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Ibe came off the bench to set up both goals as Bournemouth came from behind to beat Albion 2-1 in September.
Today, the 22-year-old, who joined the Cherries from Liverpool in 2016, set up Steve Cook for Bournemouth's first equaliser and was a constant threat.
He had a first-half effort pushed to safety by Mathew Ryan and struck a post in the second period. Cherries boss Eddie Howe feels Ibe has got better and better with each match over the festive period.