The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW33): Norwich 0-1 Brighton
Gameweek 33 started bright and early on Saturday afternoon with sure-to-be relegated Norwich taking on a Brighton side who could take a giant step towards staying up with a win at the expense of The Canaries on their own patch.
The game, as most do during the early kick0off on Saturday, laboured in the opening 15 minutes, with an attacking Brighton team doing most of the defending, whilst a Norwich side without Pukki or Cantwell did most of the probing. The first opportunity fell to the lively Onel Hernandez who found himself on the right-wing. With the ball at his feet he cuts right towards Mat Ryan's left and blazes a shot from 14 yards wide left of Ryan's post.
Against the run of play, Norwich gave the ball away in their attacking third, with Brighton hitting well on the counter. Aaron Mooy had acres of time and space to run into down the right channel, with the Australian playing a cool low cross into the penalty area, with Leandro Trossard darting into the penalty area with a diagonal run through the heart of Norwich's defence and eventually brushing the ball past a flat-footed Tim Krul for the first goal of the day. It was a lovely little finish by the Belgian for his first away goal of the season.
After a sustained period of frustration for Norwich, Hernandez and Tettey got nowhere close with pot-shots from range, before a near-identical chance during the 37th minute saw Aaron Mooy in more space on that right-channel and had time to cross again for Trossard, though this time the Belgian wasn't able to control Mooy's inch-perfect cross, with Tim Krul relieved to scoop up the ball. In general, the first-half exposed how much time Brighton had when attacking down their right-side. Jamal Lewis and Onel Hernandez were getting nowhere close to Lamptey and Mooy.
Just before half-time the tricky footwork of Emiliano Buendía saw him wriggled past a host of Brighton defenders. Shifting the ball onto his left-foot he plays in Hernandez who checked back onto his right-foot, but the shot is blocked with Ryan collecting easy as the ball span high in the air.
The second-half built on the home side's frustration with Josip Drmic firing straight at Ryan, before Buendia threatened with another half-chance, though in general the pattern of the game was slow, with Brighton happy to stay in their defensive fox-hole. There wasn't really anything to talk about until Ben Godfrey didn't well to cut out Lamptey with a last-ditch interception as the right-back was beginning to see an opening at goal.
Just as the game looked like it was over as a contest, Norwich had a golden opportunity to steal a late equaliser when a couple of substitutes for the home side combined, with Vrancic looping a cross for Adam Idah to head against the post - Ryan wasn't getting to Idah's fine header towards his left-post and the home side's last chance for a point vanished, meaning this win all but ensures Brighton's survival in the Premier League for another season.
Man of the Match: Tariq Lamptey (BHA)
Brighton's win was a text-book away win, with a few shots on target and when scoring the only goal of the game, they defended as a compact unit and denied a sterile Norwich side any 'big' opportunities to test Mat Ryan. All of Brighton's play came down the right-side, with Aaron Mooy and Tariq Lamptey the most influential players of the game. Full of energy, running and fight the right-back Lamptey was solid all afternoon and was eager to get into attacking areas, and was almost rewarded with a goal had Ben Godfrey not intercepted well.
NOR 0-1 BHA - Insight and Analysis:
The big story from this encounter between bottom-half sides is how Brighton, now on 36 points after the win and 9 points clear of the drop, have pretty much staved off relegation after a second win during the Project Restart round of games.
The game was not a classic and a troll to watch at times, mainly due to the attacking void Norwich provided. Not once did I ever think Mat Ryan was going to get beat, besides the last-gasp Idah header, but besides that Daniel Farke's side just don't look up for the fight and had no answers for a well organised Brighton defence. The only spark of the game, Onel Hernandez, ran out of steam in the second-half with a team lacking any cutting edge.
The Premier League coming back has been superb for Brighton, with wins over Arsenal and Norwich, as well as the bore-draw at Leicester - a game they should have won with Maupay missing a penalty.
Just on Norwich to round-up, the BT Sport commentary team said that this Norwich side might just be one of the best to finish bottom. I'm not so sure. Besides wins over Newcastle and City to start the season, Norwich have been god awful with their attacking game-plan found out week after week as their central defenders find themselves isolated to some of the best players in world football.
Teemu Pukki, who was heralded as the second-coming of Michu, has proven to be out of his element in this side, with @HypeTrainSam keep telling me that he's no better than when Álvaro Negredo was at Middlesbrough and says that he had one 'Pukki Patch' to start the season with 6 goals from the opening 5 games of the season, but has receded in quality and ruthlessness like no other Forward he has seen in the top-flight.
Venue: Carrow Road
Manager: Daniel Farke
GK: T. Krul
DEF: M. Aarons
DEF: B. Godfrey
DEF: T. Klose
DEF: J. Lewis
MID: A. Tettey (Vrancic 79')
MID: K. McLean
MID: E. Buendía
MID: O. Duda (Idah 67')
MID: O. Hernández (Cantwell 67')
FOR: J. Drmic (Pukki 67')
Rupp, Vrancic, Cantwell, Stiepermann, Trybull, Pukki, McGovern, Idah, Martin
Manager: Graham Potter
GK: M. Ryan
DEF: T. Lamptey (Duffy 90+4')
DEF: A. Webster
DEF: L. Dunk
DEF: D. Burn
MID: D. Pröpper
MID: Y. Bissouma (Stephens 79')
MID: A. Mooy (Gross 72')
MID: L. Trossard (Mac Allister 79')
FOR: N. Maupay
FOR: A. Connolly (Bernardo '72)
Duffy, Stephens, Mac Allister, Gross, Murray, March, Montoya, Button, Bernardo
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