Hughton rues harsh decisions

Brighton boss Chris Hughton thought the final scoreline did not reflect his side's efforts after they had been beaten 4-0 by Chelsea.

The Seagulls manager also believed that his team should have been awarded two first-half penalties after Ezequiel Schelotto had been upended by Willy Caballero and then Tiemoue Bakayoko but both appeals were turned down by referee Jon Moss.

Chelsea never looked back after scoring twice in the first six minutes to leave Brighton at 13/8 to be relegated this term.

Hughton said afterwards: "It was a very difficult afternoon for us. The biggest disappointment is that 4-0 was not a true reflection of the game.

"We did come on to a bit of a game after going 2-0 down and we had decent opportunities, but we are finding it difficult to find the goals we need.

"I thought they were two (penalties that could have been given). We see them briefly afterwards, but when you are Brighton playing at home to Chelsea you need as many things to go for you as possible.

"The second I didn't see well but the first one I thought it was a penalty. I thought we responded well but then we conceded two poor goals – and that made the scoreline not a reflection of the game."

Brighton are 19/4 to beat Southampton on 31st January.

Conte happy with Blues form

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte aimed fire at the critics who had suggested his side were struggling for form after he watched the Blues thrash Brighton 4-0.

Despite missing a number of stars due to injuries and suspension, the reigning Premier League champions were totally dominant at the Amex Stadium, with Eden Hazard scoring twice, while both Willian and Victor Moses also found the net.

And Conte was quick to hit back at suggestions that Chelsea were in trouble after drawing all five of their last five games in all competitions.

He told reporters: "Whoever said this has to pay attention to the stats. We're unbeaten in 11 games.

"It's normal that the press try to see the negative aspect and don't see the positives. But this team, with many problems, are unbeaten in 11 games in every competition.

"This means we are performing important work with these players to win in this way, despite having five players less.

"Despite this, we won 4-0. That means that every player deserves his chance and every player has to fight to play.

"Now we have to continue in this way. To grow in this aspect is very important for us."

The latest injury blow for Conte came as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was forced to miss the win over the Seagulls after sustaining an ankle injury in training.

Argentinian Willy Caballero was forced to deputise and kept a clean sheet in a comprehensive victory.

Meanwhile, Chelsea can be backed at 10/3 to win the League Cup this season, while they are 5/1 to lift the FA Cup.

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Hughton banking on Locadia goals

Brighton boss Chris Hughton believes Jurgen Locadia can provide the cutting edge his team need after completing a club-record deal for the striker.

The Seagulls have been on the lookout for a new striker all January and have now got their man after splashing out around £14million to bring in the 24-year-old from PSV Eindhoven.

The Dutchman passed his medical on Friday before penning a deal at the Amex Stadium that will run until 2022.

Locadia has spent his entire career on the books of PSV Eindhoven, helping them win back-to-back Dutch titles in 2015 and 2016, and scoring 45 league goals in 130 appearances.

Brighton are now hoping Locadia can fire them to safety having struggled to hit the back of the net this season with only bottom of the table Swansea having scored fewer Premier League goals.

Hughton is confident the club's record signing will be a hit in England and is optimistic about an improved return in front of goal over the second half of the campaign.

"He is a player we have been aware of for sometime and it's been no secret we have wanted to add a striker of his type," said Hughton.

"He is a strong, powerful and quick centre-forward with a real eye for goal, and will increase our attacking options in the second half of the season."

Meanwhile, Locadia says he will not let the burden of being Brighton's record signing affect him, claiming he is used to coping with pressure from his PSV days.

“I don’t really think about it [the price tag]. That’s something between the two clubs and all I can do is show my qualities every day," he told Brighton's website.

“It’s a different kind of pressure here. In PSV, they expect you to play for the title and at Brighton they expect you to stay in the Premier League. It’s a new experience for me."

Locadia will take a watching brief on Saturday when Brighton play host to champions Chelsea.

The Seagulls, who have not beaten the Blues in a league meeting since 1933, are 11/2 for the win, while Chelsea are 4/6 and the draw is 27/10.

Brighton are 7/4 to be relegated this season.

Conte challenges misfiring Morata

Chelsea ace Alvaro Morata has to learn how to cope with the pressure of being the main striker for the Blues, according to boss Antonio Conte.

Spain international Morata has scored 13 goals since his summer arrival from Real Madrid, but has failed to find the net in any of his last six appearances and misses the weekend action due to suspension, having been sent off in the midweek FA Cup replay against Norwich City.

And Conte has urged his former Juventus charge to accept the added responsibility he has been given since heading to Stanford Bridge, where is the undoubted first choice to lead the Blues attack.

He told reporters: "For the strikers, this situation can happen. For Alvaro, this is the first season that he's been having a full season. Maybe, for him, this is the first time to face this type of problem.

"But he has to overcome this problem because this is a stupid problem. You have to work for the team and not lose confidence.

"The coach trusts him, his team-mates trust him, the clubs trust him, the fans trust him. I don't see a problem, but this is the first time Morata has faced this situation.

"Before, if you stay on the bench, you don't have this type of pressure. So now he has to learn to face this type of situation, move forward and go on. Everyone at Chelsea trusts him."

Minus Morata, Chelsea head to the Amex Stadium to take on Brighton & Hove Albion at lunchtime on Saturday.

They will also be without Pedro, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, but Ross Barkley could make his debut following his recent move from Everton.

The Blues are available at 8/13 to defeat the Seagulls and are 5/1 to win the game 1-0, while Chelsea are 1/4 to finish in the top four in the Premier League come the end of the season.

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Upbeat Pardew hopes to add

Manager Alan Pardew is eager to add to his West Brom squad this month, having finally seen the Baggies end their lengthy Premier League winless run.

A 2-0 Hawthorns victory over Brighton lifted the gloom which had been surrounding Albion for several months, with their previous league win having come way back in mid-August at Burnley.

And Pardew hopes to be able to do some deals before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month, while confirming that he can only buy if players are allowed to leave his club.

He told Sky Sports: "I'd like to bring in a few fresh faces. I've got no money to spend so, it means I've got to move somebody on.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens, because we'll have to move somebody out if there's a bid."

Meanwhile, Pardew was full of praise for his players, after two set-piece strikes proved enough to down the Seagulls and move Albion to within two points of safety.

He added on the club's official website: "That's how we've got to play and that's the confidence I expect. We passed it well at times, we created chance after chance and we could have had three or four.

"Obviously a new manager comes in and the set-plays start falling away, so I changed them and we worked hard on them and we got our reward.

"We've got good, aggressive players at set-plays and that's going to be massively important going forward. The promise we've shown was delivered and that was great."

Albion are now priced at 6/5 to be relegated this season, while they are 4/6 to beat the drop and are available at 80/1 to win the FA Cup.

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Hughton sanctions Murphy loan

Brighton boss Chris Hughton hopes Jamie Murphy impresses at Rangers after allowing the winger to join the Scottish side on loan.

The 28-year-old has signed for the Gers until the end of the season with the move expected to become permanent when the summer transfer window opens.

Murphy made 35 league appearances as the Seagulls earned promotion from the Championship last season but has struggled to break into the first team this term.

Brighton, 5/2 to be relegated from the top-flight this season, are 17/10 to beat Crystal Palace in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday.

Hughton said: "Jamie is a great lad, a fantastic professional and has a desire to play – and while we were in no hurry to see him leave, we do understand his desire to play for his boyhood team and one of the biggest clubs in Scotland.

"He's been excellent for the club, ever since we signed him from Sheffield United, and he wrote himself into club folklore as a crucial part of our promotion-winning side last season.

"On behalf of all at the club, I'd like to thank Jamie for his efforts and achievements during his time here and wish him the very best for the future."

Hodgson eyes Loftus-Cheek deal

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has confirmed that he is keen to sign Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a permanent basis from Chelsea.

The 21-year-old midfielder moved to Selhurst Park on a loan agreement in August and has been a regular in Palace's starting line-up this season.

Chelsea signed Ross Barkley from Everton on Friday for £15million which has increased the likelihood of Antonio Conte deciding to sell Loftus-Cheek.

"He's a player we'd like to have at our club, there's no doubt about that," Hodgson said.

"Ruben's a player we like very much. We're very impressed with him, delighted with the way he's developed as a player during the time he's been here. I'm pretty sure that if he's ever available for sale, we would certainly be in there with our hand up as one of the potential buyers.

"It could well be that Chelsea would like to have both Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in their team. I wouldn't mind both in my team, anyway."

Crystal Palace's recent good run means they are now 7/1 to be relegated from the Premier League this season, while the Eagles are 15/8 to win Monday's FA Cup third-round clash against Brighton, with Loftus-Cheek available at 15/4 to score at any time against Chris Hughton's team.

Hughton warns of tough times

Brighton head coach Chris Hughton has warned his side that things will not get any easier for them in the second half of the Premier League season.

The Seagulls had to settle for a share of the spoils against South Coast rivals Bournemouth, who hit back on two occasions to secure a point from a 2-2 draw at the Amex Stadium, with Hughton feeling that his team deserved more for their efforts.

He told reporters: "It's a decent base, but probably right at this moment, the feeling is that we should be on two points more.

"Our overall performances in this first half of the season, going into the second half, have been very decent.

"But teams will get stronger and teams that haven't done as well in the first half of the season will endeavour to do better.

"We certainly don't think the second half of the season will be any less difficult than the first half has been."

Brighton are available at 5/2 to be relegated this season, with Albion 3/10 to secure their top-flight status for a second year.

Meanwhile, Hughton was full of praise for record signing Jose Izquierdo, who set up both Seagulls goals before missing a chance to earn the hosts a win late on.

He added: "He's still adjusting. He has particular qualities and what he can do is stretch teams in-behind, particularly with the way we play – we need those outlets.

"Overall, not just his offensive play, his work for the team was excellent."

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Howe considers switching targets

Bournemouth head coach Eddie Howe says he may be forced to alter his January transfer plans after seeing Josh King suffer a hamstring injury.

King had to be replaced shortly before half-time in the 2-1 home victory over Everton on Saturday, with the Cherries already without Jermain Defoe until February due to an ankle problem.

And, with King expected to be absent for at least a couple of weeks, Howe accepts that he may have to have a rethink about his potential targets.

He told Sky Sports: "We've picked up another injury in Josh King, but we've got one or two bodies coming back, so it's a little bittersweet.

"It looks like a hamstring problem, so that could be a minimum of two weeks.

"We are a little light in the striker department now with Josh's injury, so we'll have to wait and see if that changes our transfer policy."

King, who scored 16 Premier League goals last season, has managed just two in 18 appearances so far this term.

Minus King, the Cherries are back in action on New Year's Day when they head to the Amex Stadium to take on Brighton & Hove Albion.

The two sides have already met twice this season, with Bournemouth winning 2-1 at Dean Court in the league in mid-September and 1-0 in the EFL Cup just four days later.

The visitors are 12/5 to claim a much-needed three points on Monday, with the draw priced at 11/5, while Bournemouth are available at 1/4 not to be relegated this season.

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Hughton to limit January business

Chris Hughton says Brighton will not be looking to break the bank during the January transfer window.

The Seagulls, who are 3/10 not to be relegated, have made a decent fist of their maiden Premier League campaign, currently sitting 12th in the table on 21 points.

Much of their success has been built on Hughton's tactical nous and his scouting team's ability to spot a bargain, most notably Pascal Gross.

Brighton broke their transfer record on a number of occasions in the summer and a run of one win in nine has seen them tipped to spend again in January.

Their tally of 15 goals is the third lowest in the Premier League and a striker is thought to be at the top of their shopping list, with Celtic's Moussa Dembele heavily linked.

For now though, Hughton is keeping his cards close to his chest, insisting that he will only do business if he feels it will benefit the club long-term.

"Not necessarily, what we do have is an obligation to finish January with the best squad we can," Hughton said.

"We've fared fairly well. We probably surprised ourselves a little bit with a very good period and then had a more difficult period. The Watford game (1-0) probably alleviated any nerves.

"Anything we do will be minimal. The striker one has been mentioned more because of the summer, most people are away we tried in the summer and weren't able to. But any move for a striker would have to be right for this club to do anything."

Next up is Saturday's trip to Newcastle, a game Brighton are 14/5 to win, with the draw 11/5 and the Magpies 21/20.

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