Gross extends Seagulls stay

Pascal Gross hopes he can enjoy another successful season with Brighton in 2018/19 after penning a new deal with Chris Hughton's side.

The German has agreed terms which will keep him with the Seagulls until the summer of 2022.

Hughton signed Gross from Ingolstadt last summer for £3.5million and he proved to be an inspired capture, doing much to keep Brighton out of the relegation zone.

He scored seven goals in 38 Premier League appearances for Albion, 2/1 to be relegated next season.

However, Gross thinks it will be harder for the team to prosper next term, saying: "It quite often happens that the second season is harder. I hope not for us, I hope we do well.

"But in the second season the emotions from the promotion goes away. People expect what you showed the year before. The other teams don't under-rate you, they know everything about you. That is normal.

"That's why you have to work even harder and be well prepared. I think a lot of promoted teams do well in the first year and struggle in the second.

"You have to know this and have to work harder."

Brighton can be backed at 5/1 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table next season.

Seagulls swoop for Andone

Brighton boss Chris Hughton has made Romania international striker Florin Andone his second capture of the week.

Andone moves to the Seagulls from Deportivo La Coruna for £5.25million after agreeing a five-year deal with Hughton's side.

Brighton tried to sign Andone last summer and remained interested in snapping him up in January. It has proved to be a profitable delay for Brighton though as his buy-out clause was slashed from £17.5million to £5.25million after Deportivo were relegated from La Liga.

Hughton said: "We are delighted that Florin has agreed to join us. He is a player that we have tracked for some time and he will add a new dimension to our attacking options.

"He is a very hard-working player and has proven his quality at the highest level in Spain, as well as at international level. I am looking forward to working with him next season."

Andone scored 19 goals in 69 appearances for Deportivo who bought him for £4.1million from Cordoba, where he scored 27 goals in 58 games.

He represented Romania at Euro 2016 and has scored once in 21 appearances for his country.

Hughton signed Nigeria international Leon Balogun earlier this week after the 29-year-old's contract at Mainz expired.

Brighton are 2/1 to be relegated from the Premier League in 2018/19, while Watford are 2/1 to go down, Wolves 6/1 and West Ham United 6/1.

Hughton snaps up Balogun

Brighton boss Chris Hughton believes Leon Balogun will add more depth to the Seagulls' defensive options after completing the signing of the Nigerian.

The 29-year-old, who was a free agent after reaching the end of his contract with Mainz, has signed a two-year deal with the south coast side.

Earlier in his career the Nigeria international starred for Bundesliga teams Hannover, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Werder Bremen.

"I am delighted to welcome Leon to the club. He will add more depth to our defensive options and I am pleased to get our first piece of business done so early in the summer," said Hughton.

"He is in the peak years of his career and I am sure he will integrate well into the squad. He also has valuable experience, having played in the Bundesliga, the Europa League and at international level."

The Berlin-born player has represented Nigeria 14 times and was named in manager Gernot Rohr's provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup.

Balogun, who could feature in Nigeria's friendly against England at Wembley on 2nd June, said: "I am quite physical and aggressive, but not in a stupid way. I try to have good timing, be smart in my tackles, but also hurt the opposition, not by being unfair but trying to give them a hard time."

Brighton are 2/1 to be relegated in 2018/19, while Southampton are 7/1 to go down, Huddersfield Town 6/5 and Cardiff City 4/5.

Hughton ready for challenge ahead

Head coach Chris Hughton is expecting next season to be even more difficult for his Brighton side, having signed a new contract running until the summer of 2021.

Hughton led the Seagulls to automatic promotion to the Premier League last season and helped ensure that that top-flight status was safely ensured for at least another 12 months.

Albion eventually ended up in 15th place in the Premier League standings, some seven points clear of the drop zone, but Hughton is preparing himself for an even tougher assignment in the 2018/19 campaign.

He told the club's official website: "Our second season will be tougher and we will need that spirit of togetherness to help us continue to progress.

"But once we've had a well-earned break and reflected on the season just gone, we will begin planning for 2018/19.

"I'm delighted to have extended my time with the club and I would like to thank everyone at the club, including our fans, for the support we've had in achieving our aims.

"The set-up in terms of the training ground and excellent facilities, and the professionalism of all the staff across the club gives us a platform and creates an excellent environment for us to work on a daily basis."

Albion are currently priced at 2/1 to be relegated next season, with Huddersfield Town available at 6/5 and Watford 9/4.

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Salah eager to end on a high

Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah is determined to try and end an incredible season on the highest note possible in the next two weeks.

The Reds can ensure Champions League football next season by avoiding defeat at home to Brighton in their final Premier League game of the season on Sunday.

Following that, on Saturday 26th May, they can be crowned champions of Europe this season when they take on two-time defending champions Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Kiev.

And Salah, who has scored an amazing 43 goals in all competitions in his first season at Anfield, is eager to end the campaign in style.

He told the club’s official website: "We still have two games to go and we have to win them.

"We are in the Champions League final and we have one league game to win or draw to be in the Champions League next year. So, we have two finals and we have to think about that.

"I'm very happy about the season – let's finish it in a good way.

"The target is to be in the Champions League next year and to win the Champions League in the last game. If you play a final, you can't play to draw or lose – we'll play to win the Champions League.

"But first we have Sunday; we have to think about that first to make sure we play in the Champions League next year. Then after that we'll play the final."

Salah, who has gone three games without a goal for only the second time this season, is 4/11 to score at any time against Brighton and is 7/5 to score two of more goals at Anfield on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are 6/5 to win the Champions League by defeating Real in Kiev and are 14/1 to prevail in a penalty shootout.

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Henderson: Reds targeting a win

Jordan Henderson has confirmed that Liverpool will be targeting a win against Brighton on Sunday despite only needing a point.

Jurgen Klopp's side go into the final Premier League game of the campaign at Anfield knowing that their far superior goal difference means a draw against the Seagulls will ensure they finish ahead of fifth-placed Chelsea regardless of how they fare at Newcastle.

That would be enough to qualify for next season's Champions League via a top-four finish, although they will get another chance to be involved when they face Real Madrid in this season's final in Kiev on 26th May.

And, while it would be tempting to set up a formation to try and go for the draw, Henderson is adamant that they will be going all out to finish the campaign with a win against Chris Hughton's Seagulls.

The skipper told the club's website: "Obviously the draw would probably be enough but we definitely won't be going in with that mindset.

"You've just got to go out there, especially with it being at Anfield, focused on winning the game, playing like we have been at Anfield recently, giving everything, and I'm sure the atmosphere will be brilliant with it being the last day."

Liverpool, who are 6/5 to win the Champions League, are 1/5 to win their final game against Brighton, while the Seagulls are priced at 14/1 and the draw is available at 7/1.

Citizens aiming to go ton up

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has called for one more big performance from his side as they aim to finish the season with a century of Premier League points.

The Citizens set a new record of 97 points in a Premier League season by winning 3-1 at home to Brighton on Wednesday evening, with the men from Manchester also surpassing the previous highest goals tally by reaching 104.

The only task left in front of them is a trip to Southampton on Sunday and Guardiola is adamant that there will be no let-up with the target of 100 points at the forefront of his thoughts.

He commented: "Ninety-seven points, a lot of goals, a lot of wins, that is a consequence of the season we have done. We want 100 points to finish this almost perfect season in the Premier League.

"To be considered one of the best, you have to win more. To be alongside (Manchester) United in the 1990s or Liverpool in the 1980s you have to win more.

"I am not saying we are a legend team, I am not saying we are better than them. No, because you have to make more years to do that.

"But in one season we were better than all of them in the history of Premier League and the history of English football."

City have only failed to win six of the 37 league games they have played so far this season, with their two losses coming at the hands of Manchester United and Liverpool, with the latter also knocking the Citizens out of the Champions League.

Meanwhile, City are priced at 4/6 to retain their Premier League title next season, with Liverpool available at 5/1 and Manchester United 6/1.

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Lukaku sits out league finale

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku will not feature in the final two games of the Premier League season due to an ankle injury.

The Red Devils ace suffered the problem during the 2-1 win over Arsenal late last month and was forced to sit out the 1-0 defeat at Brighton last Friday, with Lukaku now hoping to be back in contention in time for the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

Midfielder Marouane Fellaini will also miss the trip to the London Stadium to take on West Ham on Thursday evening, but could be back in time for the final game of the Premier League campaign, at home to Watford on Sunday.

However, United will be boosted by the returns of defender Phil Jones and Alexis Sanchez for the clash with the Irons, as they aim to ensure finishing in second place in the table.

Boss Jose Mourinho told reporters: "In terms of injuries, it's Lukaku and Fellaini. They are the two players who are not available for tomorrow. Phil Jones is back, Alexis Sanchez is back and there are no more problems.

"Lukaku will not play in the last league game of the season, Fellaini might – it is a muscular problem and we will wait and see."

Meanwhile, Hammers boss David Moyes is happy to wait until the season is over before discussing a longer-term stay at the London Stadium, having guided his side away from relegation danger following his arrival in November.

He added: "We have always said that we will talk after the end of the season. We will wait.

"It was always the way I wanted it and I won't change my views until after we've got these two games out of the way."

Moyes has a number of injury absentees to cope with against United, with the likes of Javier Hernandez, Michail Antonio, James Collins, Winston Reid and Pedro Obiang all missing, while goalkeeper Joe Hart and forward Marko Arnautovic are doubtful.

West Ham are 18/5 to claim victory on Thursday evening, with the draw priced at 14/5, while United are available at 8/1 to secure a 2-1 win.

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Survival a relief for Hughton

Chris Hughton is thrilled that Brighton will still be a Premier League side next season considering the dark days the club has gone through recently.

In the late 1990s the Seagulls almost slipped out of the fourth tier of English football and had to play their home games at Gillingham for two seasons before moving to the Withdean Stadium, a municipal athletics track.

The club's new stadium at Falmer was opened in 2011 and Brighton are now on a crest of a wave, with their top-flight safety guaranteed after a 1-0 victory against Manchester United on Friday.

Hughton, who guided the club to promotion from the Championship last term, said: "It means everything. It's been a nervous ending and we have spoken about the run-in we've had and still have, two big games.

"It will certainly be great for us to go into these games, away to Manchester City and Liverpool, knowing we have retained our status, and it's great for this football club.

"They've come a long way. They've had some tough periods. The chairman (Tony Bloom) has invested very heavily in this club and I'm really delighted for him."

Southampton are 11/8 to be relegated this season, while Stoke City are 1000/1 to go down, Swansea City 7/4 and Huddersfield Town 12/5.

Citizens prepare for Toure exit

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is hoping to give Yaya Toure a fitting finale, with the veteran midfielder about to leave the club at the end of the season.

The 34-year-old former Ivory Coast international moved to Manchester in the summer of 2010 from Barcelona and was one of the key figures in the rise of the Citizens into becoming one of the leading sides in England.

Toure has helped City to three Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup triumph during his time with the club, scoring 82 goals in 315 appearances in all competitions.

However, he has been only a bit-part player this term as Guardiola's side have swept all before them in the Premier League and will move on when the campaign draws to a close.

Guardiola, though, is keen to see that Toure is recognised for his efforts over the years and the meeting with Brighton at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday will be used to celebrate the player's contribution to recent successes.

The Spaniard told reporters ahead of a Sunday visit from Huddersfield Town: "Yaya is not going to stay next season. At the Brighton game we will make the focus winning and Yaya.

"We are going to try and win the game for him. We cannot forget we have magnificent facilities, but we cannot forget we are here because of the players.

"He came here and we cannot forget that or what he has achieved for this club. For Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, Yaya was a key, key player."

Meanwhile, City are 4/6 to be crowned Premier League champions again next season, with Liverpool available at 5/1 and Manchester United 6/1.

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