Hughton takes pragmatic line

Brighton manager Chris Hughton has admitted that he does not care how boring his side are so long as they avoid relegation.

The Seagulls stayed up last term despite struggling for goals, particularly on their travels.

They face Southampton at St Mary's on Monday and Mark Hughes' team are similarly shot-shy.

Hughton said: "It's all about getting points. It's still about staying in this division and getting the points however you need to be.

"Apart from the top six, I am quite sure that if you ask most managers they would prefer to be a little boring and be guaranteed 50 points. They'd probably take that."

Jurgen Locadia will be on the bench again at Southampton while Romanian striker Florin Andone is close to a return to action as he continues his recovery from a groin problem.

Hughton added: "If you're a centre-forward or a forward player, if you aren't starting a game, there are more chances you will be involved in games than any other position.

"That is why we need the ones we've got very much on their toes and pushing for places."

Glenn Murray is 11/4 to score at any time at St Mary's in a match Brighton are 9/1 to win 1-0.

Defour extends Clarets stay

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has revealed that he has taken up the option of a 12-month contract extension for Belgium international Steven Defour.

The midfielder has not played since the end of January because of knee and calf injuries but will stay at Turf Moor until at least June 2020.

The 30-year-old joined the Clarets from Anderlecht just over two years ago and had been involved in pre-season training at the start of the summer only to then suffer a calf problem. However, Defour is now back in full training.

Dyche said: "He was injured at the time [in the summer] and we leave players alone when they're injured, so we didn't go out to the press and say he's here for another two years. But he is.

"Steven is doing really well. He's been training with us full-out for a week to 10 days, which is great, and he's looking and feeling well.

"He will start a games' programme, we're hoping, next week if all goes to plan. He will need a couple of games to build into it and build up to at least 90 minutes."

Robbie Brady is also back in training while Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who missed the Clarets' home loss to Manchester United before the international break with a hamstring problem, is fit to return to the squad for Sunday's trip to Wolves.

Burnley, 7/4 to be relegated this season, are 19/4 to beat Wolves.

Ramsey: Gunners getting stronger

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey says that Arsenal are adapting well to the changes of the summer and go into the international break with confidence growing.

After starting the new Premier League season with two defeats, they now have two weeks off on the back of successive victories.

Their latest was a 3-2 thriller away at Cardiff to leave Neil Warnock's side still searching for their first win back in the top flight.

Arsenal went ahead on 11 minutes, Granit Xhaka's corner being met perfectly by the head of Shkodran Mustafi and it powered into the net giving Neil Etheridge no chance in the Cardiff goal.

However the home side were level just before the break with their first goal of the new Premier League season, though Arsenal contributed with defensive mistakes, Xhaka losing possession and Victor Camarasa got the better of Nacho Monreal to fire home and send the home crowd into half-time on a high.

Buoyed by that equaliser Neil Warnock's side began the second half brightly but the Gunners began to step up the pressure and were rewarded by another goal just after the hour mark, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring with an excellent finish but again the Bluebirds responded.

Little more than five minutes later they were level again with a ball into the Arsenal box again asking questions of the Gunners' defence and Danny Ward headed home.

There was though time for Arsenal to score a third, decisive goal, Alexandre Lacazette finding space in the penalty area to turn and shoot past Etheridge.

There was no time for Cardiff to respond and Arsenal leave with the three points although questions remain over their defensive strength.

However, Ramsey was confident the squad will grow stronger as the season continues as they come to terms with the new management approach of Unai Emery.

He said: "We know it is a process and every game we improve that little bit and get stronger and stronger. Hopefully can come back from International break and really kick on."

Arsenal are back in action on 15th September with a trip to Tyneside to take on a Newcastle side still searching for their first win of the season.

The Gunners are 4/5, Rafa Benitez's side are 15/4 with the draw 12/5. Arsenal are 9/1 to win the game 2-0.

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Benitez defends tactics

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has defended his tactics against some of the top sides in the Premier League.

The Spaniard received criticism after Newcastle's home defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, pundits questioning what they saw as an extremely defensive approach at St James' Park.

His side had only 19% of the possession in the 2-1 home defeat but Benitez defended his tactics, saying he had to analyse how best to set up his team against quality opponents.

He said: "You see the price of any player, a couple of Chelsea's players will be more expensive than any of our last six transfer windows. When you put all these things in context, then you have to decide your game plan.

"Our fans know about our team and why we have to do this. You have the pressure of being the head of a mouse or tail of a lion.

"You can talk, say whatever you want, but the transfer window always has an impact on your tactics. With the team we have, we are doing well."

Benitez was talking at a press conference ahead of his team's EFL Cup tie against Championship side Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.

The Newcastle boss said that Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are all injured and will miss the trip to the City Ground where Newcastle are 6/4 with Forest 2/1.

They may have been missing anyway with Benitez saying that he was considering bringing in some younger players for the cup tie with possible debuts for both Sean Longstaff and Yoshinori Muto.

Last weekend's defeat to Chelsea means that Newcastle are still seeking their first win of the new Premier League season, having one point from their three games so far.

They face the daunting prospect of trying to pick up three points at the home of the champions on Saturday, playing away at Manchester City and they are 20/1 for the win with Pep Guardiola's side 1/10.

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Gracia praises players’ belief

Watford boss Javi Gracia said their third win on the bounce was just reward for the players' hard work and belief.

The Hornets maintained their perfect start to the new Premier League season with a 2-1 home win over Crystal Palace and they join Liverpool at the top of the table with a maximum nine points from three games.

Roberto Pereyra scored his third goal of the season, opening the scoring early in the second half with a curling effort and Jose Holebas doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining.

Watford keeper Ben Foster was kept busy at the other end and Roy Hodgson's team did get back into the game, Wilfried Zaha pulling a goal back on 78 minutes.

However, they couldn't find the equaliser and Watford boss Gracia was happy to reflect on a perfect start to the new season from his team.

He said afterwards: "I'm very happy because it is always difficult to get a result in the Premier League. We have three wins and it is amazing. The players have been rewarded because they have worked very hard.

"They believe we can do things. At this moment we have played really well the last few games but we know it is very early and only three steps.

"I feel the same as I felt from the first day – I'm very proud to be Watford coach."

Watford victories so far have come against Brighton, Burnley and now Palace. The next two league fixtures are, on paper, somewhat tougher with a home game against Tottenham followed by Manchester United after the international break.

The Hornets are 4/1 to beat Spurs with Mauricio Pochettino's side 8/13 and the draw 3/1.

Their next fixture though is in midweek in the second round of the EFL Cup when they play away at Championship side Reading.

Watford are 50/1 to win the trophy this season.

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Hodgson hopes to keep squad intact

Roy Hodgson said that he is reluctant to let any Crystal Palace players leave on loan in the coming week.

Though the summer transfer window closed early for Premier League clubs, clubs in the Championship as well as Leagues One and Two have another week in which to sign players on loan.

Many of those will be on the books of clubs in the top flight but Eagles boss Hodgson said his squad wasn't big enough to cope with any departures.

Palace play away to Watford on Sunday and at a press conference ahead of the game, Hodgson said: "We don't have that many players and if we let go of those players we might struggle to get a team out.

"We have got a small squad here. We have added three and lost five from last season so I am not anxious to loan players.

"We are going to have to look at the situation and ask can we afford to let this player to go? Much as they might not be first choice and they would relish to get more regular game time they are contracted to us."

Palace are 2/1 to win at Watford on Sunday with the Hornets 8/5 and the draw 9/4.

Christian Benteke has failed to score for Palace so far this season and has only been on the mark twice for the club so far this year. Hodgson though backed his striker, adding: "There is nothing we can do to help other than show our confidence in him and hope that the break will come for him one day and it will lead to a flood of goals."

Benteke is 9/4 to score against Watford.

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Stephens: We deserved victory

Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens thought Manchester United were fortunate to escape from the Amex with only a 3-2 defeat on Sunday.

The Seagulls led 3-1 thanks to first-half goals by Glenn Murray, Shane Duffy and Pascal Gross before Paul Pogba's late penalty made the final scoreline look closer than the game had actually been.

Stephens said: "I thought we deserved to win and by a bigger margin. I thought we played very well and probably that scoreline doesn't reflect our performance.

"We started well with a lot of energy, high tempo and it suited our game. We play a better game when we play with more energy and a higher press.

"We know they are a good side. If we had let them play, we were going to be in trouble."

Brighton also beat United at the end of last season to confirm their top-flight status but they made a poor start to the current campaign when they lost their first match at Watford.

Boss Chris Hughton was pleased with the way his players had bounced back from the setback at Vicarage Road, saying: "Very proud of the performance, particularly the reaction from last week.

"The tempo of the game was very good and I must admit, even if we hadn't got the result, I would have been really delighted with the way our team played the game and the levels that we got to, to try and get a result."

Brighton are now 1/3 not to be relegated this term, while Jose Mourinho's Manchester United team are 10/11 to finish in the top four.

Etheridge saves point for Cardiff

Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was the hero for his team, saving a 96th minute penalty to secure Cardiff's first point of the season.

They drew 0-0 at home to Newcastle but were prepared for defeat when the referee pointed to the spot deep into stoppage time after Sean Morrison had handled in the area.

Kenedy stepped up to take the penalty for Newcastle but Etheridge went the right way, keeping it out and the final whistle sounded immediately afterwards to leave the game goalless.

Both sides lost their opening game so got off the mark with a point and Etheridge took the positives after the game, telling Sky Sports: "We could have won it, but with a penalty in the last minute I will take a point and be happy to move onto next week.

"We don't want that to become a regular occurrence [conceding and saving a penalty], but we deserved at least a point. We knew we would have a chance at home and needed to get points on the board.

"It is not easy to step up in the 90th minute and take a penalty, but today I came out victorious."

Newcastle, though regretting the penalty miss, had the consolation of getting a point after having had to play much of the second half with 10 men, Isaac Hayden seeing red for a challenge on Josh Murphy.

Cardiff went close through Kenneth Zohore who had a header cleared off the line but failed to make their extra man advantage pay, though they were grateful the late penalty drama at least enabled them to escape with a point.

Cardiff will seek a first win of the season away at Huddersfield next Saturday. They are 5/2 to get the three points with the Terriers 6/5 and the draw 21/10.

Cardiff are 17/2 to win the game 1-0.

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No special focus on Pogba

Brighton boss Chris Hughton said that he is not planning special treatment for Paul Pogba as his side prepare to face Manchester United.

The teams meet at the Amex Stadium on Sunday with the Seagulls hoping for a repeat of the fixture last season, Hughton's side winning, a result that secured their Premier League survival.

In the run up to their fixture this season Pogba has been a focal point, with his future uncertain.

However, despite speculation of a move away, the French international was instrumental in United's opening day win over Leicester and seems set to stay at Old Trafford.

Hughton said he was an admirer of the player who starred for France in their World Cup 2018 win, but insisted his side would not treat him differently to any other player.

Ahead of the game the Brighton boss said: "He's a very, very good player. We have to be guarded against that, tactically. But there are no special measures.

"He is capable of having a very good season. He's showed that in the summer, he showed that in good periods at United.

"He's a very good all-round footballer, a wonderful athlete, can break from midfield, and has shown a passing ability."

Hughton said that he was seeking an improved performance from his team who disappointed in losing 2-0 away at Watford in their opening league game last weekend.

They failed to have a shot on target in that game and Hughton said, after talking through the defeat with the squad, he was looking for an improvement against Jose Mourinho's side.

Brighton are 4/1 to get their first win of the season with United 9/10 and the draw 23/10. Glenn Murray is 3/1 to score in the game which Brighton are 11/1 to win 1-0.

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Guardiola patient with Foden

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says the club will be patient in the development of young English midfielder Phil Foden.

The 18-year-old played only 44 minutes in the league last season as City romped to the Premier League title. However, he was involved in the team's Community Shield win over Chelsea and has been tipped to get more first-team action due to Kevin de Bruyne's absence.

The Belgian will be missing for three months due to a knee injury but, whatever Foden's role in that time, Guardiola suggests he and the club will have to be patient.

He told Sky Sports: "Of course Phil is special, but he is a young player so we have to be patient.

"His behaviour is important. On and off the pitch he is excellent, that is the first step to becoming a good player. He will play a lot of minutes and have games to play and go step by step. We cannot forget he is 18 so he is young.

"Be patient, work hard, listen and see what happens, we will help him to be a better player."

The City boss was speaking ahead of the side's second Premier League game of the season, at home to Huddersfield Town with City 1/10 to win, the Terriers 25/1 and the draw 12/1.

Their title defence began with a victory away to Arsenal on the opening day but was soured by the news of de Bruyne's injury which happened in training.

He is joined on the sidelines by Danilo and Eliaquim Mangala but City could be boosted by the return of David Silva to face Huddersfield after the midfielder missed the victory over the Gunners last weekend.

Foden is 13/8 to score against Huddersfield while City are 6/1 to win the game 2-0.

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