Hazard ready to hit top gear

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is tipping Eden Hazard to thrive in the coming weeks after the Belgian inspired his team to a 2-1 win at Brighton.

Hazard laid on the opener for Pedro with a superb pass at the Amex Stadium and then raced clear after taking a ball from Willian to score Chelsea's second goal.

The Blues looked to be cruising just beyond the half-hour, but Brighton stuck to their task and set up a dramatic finish when Solly March hooked home with 25 minutes left.

Hazard has eight goals and nine assists this season in the league for Chelsea and his manager is tipping the 27-year-old to really come good now.

"I think that Hazard could have played better because his level is a very high level," said Sarri. "He can do more for him and for us.

"But I think after the two injuries, he lost the physical condition. Now he's improving. In one or two matches he'll be back at the top."

Chelsea had to withstand the late attacks from the Seagulls to record their first win in three away matches and stay in fourth in the Premier League, two points behind Tottenham.

Chelsea are 3/10 to beat Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Foxes are 8/1 with the draw priced at 9/2.

Chris Hughton felt Brighton were unlucky to be two down at the break, giving themselves too much to do from that point.

"They had two chances in the first half and scored two goals," said Hughton. "We started the game well but you can't give them the leg up by going behind.

"Then you have to have a response in the second half which we did in the second-half."

View all Soccer betting

Hazard ready to hit top gear

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is tipping Eden Hazard to thrive in the coming weeks after the Belgian inspired his team to a 2-1 win at Brighton.

Hazard laid on the opener for Pedro with a superb pass at the Amex Stadium and then raced clear after taking a ball from Willian to score Chelsea's second goal.

The Blues looked to be cruising just beyond the half-hour, but Brighton stuck to their task and set up a dramatic finish when Solly March hooked home with 25 minutes left.

Hazard has eight goals and nine assists this season in the league for Chelsea and his manager is tipping the 27-year-old to really come good now.

"I think that Hazard could have played better because his level is a very high level," said Sarri. "He can do more for him and for us.

"But I think after the two injuries, he lost the physical condition. Now he's improving. In one or two matches he'll be back at the top."

Chelsea had to withstand the late attacks from the Seagulls to record their first win in three away matches and stay in fourth in the Premier League, two points behind Tottenham.

Chelsea are 3/10 to beat Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Foxes are 8/1 with the draw priced at 9/2.

Chris Hughton felt Brighton were unlucky to be two down at the break, giving themselves too much to do from that point.

"They had two chances in the first half and scored two goals," said Hughton. "We started the game well but you can't give them the leg up by going behind.

"Then you have to have a response in the second half which we did in the second-half."

View all Soccer betting

Hughton aims to get balance right

Brighton manager Chris Hughton has confirmed that he has a full-strength squad to choose from for the game against Chelsea apart from the suspended Shane Duffy.

This season the Seagulls have only lost once at the Amex Stadium where they have picked up 14 of their 21 points and they beat Crystal Palace 3-1 in their last home game, despite playing for over half the encounter with 10 men.

However, Chelsea are on a high after beating previously undefeated Manchester City 2-0 at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

Brighton are 13/2 to beat Maurizio Sarri's team and 7/1 to win the match by a one-goal margin.

Hughton said: "Every time we play against a top-six team it's a marker of our progress, and I hope we've learnt.

"We'll be without Shane Duffy as he serves the second match of his three-game suspension. Jose Izquierdo took a knock a few games ago but has been in better shape recently.

"He's a late decision but apart from that we have everybody available – Alireza Jahanbakhsh is back fit now and he's been training with us.

"Chelsea have adapted very well [to having a new manager]. Any team that beats Manchester City at the moment has to have quality. But it's also about our game. We know we'll have to defend well but we have to be in the game ourselves and show our best qualities too."

Sarri calm over Morata injury

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is hopeful that the knee injury sustained by striker Alvaro Morata during the 2-2 draw with MOL Vidi is not too serious.

The Spain international frontman had to be replaced just before half-time of the Europa League clash in Hungary, from which the Blues rescued a draw thanks to a late goal from Morata's replacement, Olivier Giroud.

After the game, which counted for little as Chelsea had already made sure of their place in the knockout stages of the competition, Sarri admitted that he will have to wait for confirmation of his initial feeling that the injury is not too serious.

He told reporters: "The first impression of the doctor is that it isn't too bad, not serious.

"But of course with this situation we have to wait and wait until tomorrow, I think, to see if the situation is serious."

Should Morata be ruled out for anything more than a short time, Sarri would be left with Giroud as his only out-and-out striker to select.

France international Giroud has scored five goals in 18 appearances in all competitions so far this season, with only one of those strikes coming in the Premier League. Morata, meanwhile, has five goals in 14 top-flight outings to his name.

Next up for Chelsea is a trip to the South Coast on Sunday to take on Brighton, with the visitors having won this fixture 4-0 last season.

The Londoners are 9/20 to win again on Sunday and are 1/1 to keep a clean sheet, with Chelsea 2/5 to clinch a top-four finish come the end of the season.

View all Soccer betting

Dyche relief at victory

Burnley boss Sean Dyche said he had a feeling of relief after seeing his side pick up a crucial three points against Brighton.

The Clarets escaped the bottom three in the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-0 over Brighton at Turf Moor, their first win in nine in the league.

The solitary goal came five minutes before half-time, a Jack Cork shot going in off James Tarkowski.

The three points enabled Dyche's side to move from second bottom to 17th in the table, now two points clear of the relegation zone.

It also ended a run which had seen Burnley lose six in their last eight and Dyche admitted that there had been a feeling of relief at the final whistle.

He said: "We are kind of getting back to where I think we should be performance-wise, but then you've got to turn performances into results.

"I think we've actually played better than we did today but the basics were done very well.

"The quality of the shape, the importance of the details, the resilience that the side showed many times – those features are coming back into the side, and I've always said that gives you a base to work from."

Brighton had chances to get something out of the game themselves and Jurgen Locadia had a good chance to level late on but headed over the bar.

Despite the defeat they are in the relative comfort of mid-table, nine points clear of Burnley.

The Clarets face a tough run of games going into the Christmas period, taking on both Tottenham and Arsenal away before they are back at Turf Moor to face Everton on Boxing Day.

Burnley are 12/1 to get three points at Wembley next Saturday with Spurs 1/6 and the draw 13/2.

The Clarets are 33/1 to win the game 1-0.

View all Soccer betting

Barnes: Safety the main aim

Burnley striker Ashley Barnes accepts that the main target for his side this season simply has to be ensuring that they remain in the Premier League.

The Clarets have won just twice in the league so far this season and have picked up a mere one point from their last seven games, leaving them in the bottom three along with Fulham and Southampton.

And Barnes accepts that they need to do better, with the forward taking heart from what he felt was a decent performance in a 3-1 midweek loss to Liverpool.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph: "We've been through a rough time and we need to get back to picking up points. Unfortunately we couldn't do that (against Liverpool) – we need to dust ourselves down and go again.

"It's not going to be easy that's for sure and we’re going to have to work even harder. As long as we do that then I'm sure we can pick up the three points.

"We take a lot from (from Wednesday) because it's Liverpool at the end of the day and they're a quality side.

"We've gone back to our old selves and we had to be ugly. Our main aim this year is to stay in the Premier League."

Burnley welcome Brighton to Turf Moor on Saturday, with the last five meetings between the two sides all having ended in draws.

A draw on Saturday is priced at 11/5, with a 1-1 final scoreline available at 11/2, while the hosts are 13/2 to edge a 1-0 victory.

View all Soccer betting

Hughton still aiming to improve

Brighton & Hove Albion head coach Chris Hughton says he has not altered his approach, despite seeing his side win five of their eight Premier League games

The Seagulls defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 on Tuesday evening to move up into the top half of the table, with Albion already 12 points clear of the relegation places and looking well on course to ensure another season in the top-flight.

However, Hughton is aware that things can soon turn around, as he prepares his side for a trip to Burnley, who are one of the sides currently inside the bottom three.

He told his club's official website: "My focus hasn't changed, irrespective of any league position. Once you start changing your focus and thinking you’re better than you are, then there can be a rude awakening around the corner.

"For a side like ourselves who've won some matches on the spin like we have, you can also see it go the other way.

"My focus isn't on our league position. We just want to improve both as a team and a club while gaining as many points as possible."

Brighton are now priced at 5/2 to finish in the top half of the table, while they are 3/10 to have to make do with a place in the bottom half of the standings come the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Hughton is hopeful of having Glenn Murray (shoulder) and Jose Izquierdo (knee) available to feature at Turf Moor, with a final decision to be taken on both players on Friday.

He added of leading scorer Murray: "We'll assess Glenn on Friday morning, today it wasn't as bad as we had originally feared.

"We'll give him every opportunity to be fit, he went over on it quite badly and it forced him off, but it isn't dislocated or anything. It was too sore to continue and it still is at the moment, but we haven't ruled him out."

View all Soccer betting

Wagner patient in goals search

Huddersfield boss David Wagner says he will remain patient with his players while admitting they need to score more goals.

The Terriers have lost their last two Premier League games, at home to Brighton and away to Bournemouth leaving them just a point above the bottom three.

Hampering them in their bid to escape from relegation trouble is their worrying lack of goals, they have scored just 10 in 15 league games, the worst in the league.

As they look for their first points of December, away at Arsenal on Saturday, Wagner says he is staying patient.

He told a press conference: "I will be [patient], in the future as well. They are aware, as we all are, that we need goals from our strikers. This is the truth over the season and they have some further games to go to produce these goals.

"They have their chances, they create their chances sometimes for themselves, and now it's all about putting the ball in the net.

"So I still will be patient, I think anything else makes no sense even if we all know we need more goals from our strikers as we need goals from the other positions as well."

Huddersfield are 10/1 to win at the Emirates Stadium with the Gunners 1/4 and the draw 19/4.

Wagner also told the press conference that, though the January transfer window is fast approaching, it wasn't in his thoughts and he was focused on the players already at his disposal.

Huddersfield last beat Arsenal in 1971 and the last time they beat them in London was back in 1954.

The Terriers are 4/7 to be relegated while they are 100/1 to recover and finish in the top half of the Premier League.

View all Soccer betting

Hodgson backs his strikers

Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson says the side have enough qualify upfront despite being the Premier League's second-lowest scorers.

The Eagles have only scored 11 goals in their 15 league games so far this season, a campaign which is turning into a battle for survival.

A defeat away to rivals Brighton in midweek leaves Palace 15th in the table, three points above the bottom three.

They have conceded less than their closest rivals but it is in attack where they have struggled so far this season, though Hodgson insists there are quality strikers at the club who can score the goals to help the side climb the table.

Ahead of a trip to West Ham on Saturday, the Palace manager told a press conference: "I do not think we lack quality. I will accept the criticism that we have not been as good at converting some of the opportunities that we have created.

"With Conor Wickham now coming back to fitness, with Jordan Ayew playing well in my opinion, with (Alexander) Sorloth getting better all the time and with Christian Benteke not that far way, I don't know that it is right to complain about the paucity of talent of ability in the forward areas."

Palace are 9/4 to win at the London Stadium on Saturday with the Hammers 23/20 while the draw is 5/2.

The Eagles are in a poor fun of form, having just a solitary victory in their last 10 games in all competitions and Hodgson admitted he was disappointed with their defeat at Brighton, adding: "We all wanted to do better and know we should have done better.

"Nothing we do two days after can affect that, but we have to stop it affecting us going forward, starting with Saturday at West Ham."

Palace are 7/1 to be relegated while they are 11/2 to finish in the top half of the Premier League.

View all Soccer betting

McArthur calls for Eagles response

Crystal Palace midfielder James McArthur has called for a quickfire reaction to a dismal performance in the 3-1 defeat to ten-man Brighton on Tuesday.

Having gained a goalless draw at Manchester United and beaten Burnley 2-0 in their last two games, the Eagles headed to the Amex Stadium on Tuesday evening trying to make it three games without defeat.

However, despite playing for more than 70 minutes against ten men, Palace were well beaten, with McArthur accepting that his team had quite simply not been good enough.

The only positive for the Scotland international is that his side are back in action on Saturday when they head to the London Stadium to take on West Ham.

He told the Evening Standard: "A poor performance all round and not acceptable. Even in the second half, when we were pushing, we did not put their goalkeeper under enough pressure when they had ten men.

"It is very disappointing. We all expected a much better performance, especially after the win against Burnley.”

"The only thing is we have that game very fast and we can try and make it right. When you have that full week it is hard and it eats away at you.

"Now we need to get going and make it right by winning at West Ham."

Last season both Premier League meetings of the London rivals ended in draws, with the clash at the London Stadium finishing 1-1 after the showdown at Selhurst Park produced a 2-2 final scoreline.

Palace are 12/5 to claim a draw on Saturday and are 9/1 to secure a 1-0 victory over their capital rivals, with the Eagles 1/10 not to be relegated come the end of the season.

View all Soccer betting