The biggest game of a truncated weekend took place at the AmEx, with Brighton and Watford facing each other in a battle of teams trying desperately to avoid the drop.
The final score was 1-1, Watford taking the lead through an Abdoulaye Doucoure screamer but being pegged back through an inexplicable own-goal by Adrian Mariappa.
Both Michael Cox and Frida Fagerlund were at the game, and offered their thoughts on what it would mean for the relegation battle on Monday’s Totally Football Show.
“I think the most telling thing about all this – one of those things you can only really tell in the stadium – was the noise at full-time,” said Michael. “It was just really flat and dejected, and both sets of supporters were really gutted with the point. Both felt they really needed to win.
“Even though it wasn’t an end-to-end thriller and the technical quality wasn’t great, I really enjoyed being there because I felt like I’ve watched a lot of Premier League matches with the top teams this season – Manchester City, for example – where win, lose or draw they’re probably going to end up in the same position. This was a game that, to use the cliche, felt like a six-pointer. It felt really important, and it almost felt like the start of the relegation run-in.
“I came away quite impressed with the quality of two sides that are fighting relegation. The battle against relegation is quite strong: one good team might go down and it could be one of these two.”
Brighton have now only won one of their last 11 games and are slipping towards the bottom three, and Frida suspected that might have something to do with their manager’s constant chopping and changing.
“Graham Potter was trying to change things in the second-half, and I have to give him that: he was not afraid to [do that], and I was sitting there thinking how do the players even know where to be [with all of these changes]? He brought off full-backs and put on attacking players, they were basically all over the place. But in the end that was what made them get the point: even though it was an own-goal by Mariappa, it was still Neal Maupay and Alireza Jahanbakhsh that were behind it.
“I’m still not sure about Brighton. I can’t say Potter has found his starting line-up or even his formation. It feels like he can’t make up his mind.”
As for Watford, they’ve now failed to win their last three games, in all of which they took the lead. Tom Williams is concerned.
“For Watford, if you think about the impact that Nigel Pearson had, and then the run of wins they went on – they’re now five without a win in all competitions, and that early momentum has blown itself out. They’re now second-bottom, and that must be quite dispiriting for the players and fans, because you look like you’ve turned a corner – the football was unrecognisable to what you’ve done previously – and yet here you are a few weeks on and they’ve not really moved forwards.
“To have that got that close to victory and throw it away in the manner they did, and then to have two weeks to stew on it, it’s just another kick in the teeth.”
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