A hectic week for Graham Potter's Brighton ended with a point against their relegation rivals Aston Villa.
A second half equaliser from Jack Grealish shared the spoils at the Amex Stadium after Leandro Trossard gave the hosts a first half lead with a well taken opener. On Tuesday they face another 'six-pointer' at Bournemouth but here we we recap a week that included much speculation on two key players: Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray.
Chelsea are reportedly keen on a £50m move for the Albion skipper, while Potter continues to bat away questions on Murray's future who has been linked with Newcastle, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Celtic.
Match Report: Brighton vs Aston Villa
Brighton and Hove Albion were left to curse Jack Grealish once again as a poor second half display saw them to a 1-1 draw against lowly Aston Villa at the Amex Stadium.
Grealish continued his fine goalscoring form against Brighton to salvage relegation-threatened Aston Villa a point.
The Villa captain scored for the fourth successive meeting with Albion by lashing home 15 minutes from time and earning the visitors a potentially vital point in the battle for survival.
Seagulls attacker Leandro Trossard gave the hosts a first-half lead with a drilled low shot past Villa's debutant and former Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Brighton are 14th and just three points better off than Villa , who are 18th and remain a single point from safety.
Tempers boiled over at the final whistle, with an altercation between Neal Maupay and Ezri Konsa leading to the players being separated by team-mates.
Struggling Villa, hammered 6-1 at home by Manchester City last weekend, threw AC Milan loanee Reina straight into their starting XI.
The former Liverpool player was making his first Premier League appearance since May 2013 and his first job of note was to pick the ball out of his net seven minutes from the end of a largely forgettable first half.
Belgian Trossard did the damage, firing a low, angled drive across the 37-year-old keeper and into the bottom right corner after being slipped in following a powerful run by Frenchman Maupay.
The clinical finish was Trossard's third goal of the season and first in 12 outings dating back to early November.
Neither side had managed an attempt on target until that point. Villa's best first-half opportunity came moments earlier when midfielder Grealish flashed wide of the left post having burst past Steven Alzate and Lewis Dunk on the counter-attack.
With little sign of an imminent equaliser, Villa boss Smith turned to his bench 23 minutes from time and brought on 18-year-old American Indiana Vassilev for his maiden Premier League appearance.
Albion were showing little attacking ambition and began to invite pressure. The away side's first shot on target was a tame 75th-minute free-kick from substitute Luiz, but they were level moments later.
Unmarked Grealish was given far too much room by Brighton's backline and he expertly controlled Luiz's right-wing cross before lashing a stinging left-footed shot past Maty Ryan in front of the delirious travelling fans.
With the momentum behind them, the visitors had looked more likely to go on and win it but they ended up indebted to their veteran keeper.
Reina, who played only once in Serie A this season, proved he still has the reflexes for top-flight football by tipping away an acrobatic Maupay effort two minutes from time as both sides had to be content with a point. ALBION: Ryan, Alzate, Dunk, Webster, Bernardo, Mooy (Gross 80), Stephens, Propper, Trossard (Murray 80), Connolly (Montoya 68), Maupay. SUBS NOT USED: Button, Duffy, Bissouma, Jahanbakhsh.
Potter warns Premier League rivals away from Glenn Murray
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter admits it would make no sense to sell their striker Glenn Murray to a direct Premier League rival.
Game time has been limited for the 36-year-old striker this season and Murray has been persistently linked with a January transfer away from the club.
Newcastle United and Aston Villa are both reportedly keen on adding Murray, while Championship outfit Nottingham Forest and Scottish champions Celtic have also been linked.
Murray made a positive impact as a second half substitute during the 1-0 loss at Everton last Saturday and Potter is determined to keep the striker at the Amex, at least until the end of the season
“It doesn’t make sense to help the opposition," said Potter speaking ahead of Brighton's crunch clash against Aston Villa at the Amex this Saturday. “You never know in football, of course, but Glenn was a sub for us and came on at Everton last week, so clearly he’s someone we think can help us.
“It doesn’t make too much sense to help someone we are competing against. Glenn is with us, I worked with him this morning (Thursday) and have no problems with him whatsoever.
I’m happy for him to be with us. I enjoy working with him and I hope he stays.”
When asked to comment on a possible switch to the Championship with promotion chasing Nottingham Forest, Potter added, “It’s not one you could see that works for all parties. I doubt it.”
Potter also said there was little happening at the moment in terms of players arriving during the January window. "No, nothing to report. As I have always said, the job for me is to focus on the guys we have got and improve. Clearly we can do that."
Potter speaks out on Lewis Dunk's £50m transfer link to Chelsea
Albion head coach Graham Potter insists his captain Lewis Dunk remains a vital part of his squad ahead of their crunch clash with Aston Villa despite persistent speculation linking him with a £50m switch to Chelsea.
Dunk, 28, has been excellent for Albion this season and Potter believes he has a crucial role to play as Brighton fight to stay in the Premier League.
Albion are 14th but remain just three points above the drop. Their next four matches - starting with Villa at the Amex on Saturday - are crucial with lowly Bournemouth, West Ham and Watford all to come.
Dunk was heavily linked with a move to Leicester last summer but remained on the south coast and was installed as club captain following the retirement of Bruno.
Dunk signed a five-year-contract with the Seagulls in October 2018, which runs out in June 2023.
The 6ft 4in Brighton born centre back is however a reported Chelsea fan and if the £50m offer is genuine, the lure of European football and competing at the top end of the table could be hard to resist.
Potter, however, played down the January window transfer talk. "He signed a long term contract (July 2018). We are quite relaxed about the situation," said the Albion head coach.
"I have really enjoyed working with Lewis as a footballer and as a person. He is really important for us and we are really happy that he is with us.
"January is always a little bit different to every other month if we are being honest. "There is always a lot going on, a lot of talk from you guys (media) questions and interest.
"The window is open so there is more things going on in that regard but that is normal we know that is the case. When the window is open there is always more talk other than the football."