Plus: Brentford’s next step is clear after late win over Nottingham Forest; unlucky number 13 for Forest goalkeeper Kaylor Navas
Roberto De Zerbi asked an important question of his Brighton squad and they responded with a perfect answer as they beat Wolves 6-0.
It was on Deniz Undav, Billy Gilmour and Julio Enciso to replace the outstanding Kaoru Mitoma, Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo, who were all benched after a gruelling week.
Brighton needed a response to their midweek defeat at Nottingham Forest which felt like a hangover from their Wembley heartbreak against Manchester United last weekend. They got it.
Undav scored twice, Enciso provided two assists and Gilmour was “the best player on the pitch” according to his manager. Danny Welbeck also came into the starting line-up and netted a double.
Their hopes of European football are very much alive with De Zerbi knowing he can throw in his fringe players during their busy schedule. If they perform like this then few will stop them.
Wolves played like they knew they had already avoided relegation. That may be the case but it was a dreadful display, one that lacked any of the fight that has got them out of trouble this season.
Both teams will hope for better times ahead. Brighton can only improve their league position.
Roy Hodgson’s return to Selhurst Park has coincided with as good a spell as any during this season of inconsistency at Crystal Palace. Thirteen points have been secured from a possible 18 since the former England manager replaced Patrick Vieira in March, as has another season of Premier League football, with Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 win over West Ham seeing the Eagles hit the coveted 40-point mark in their battle against relegation.
Hodgson said after the game he no longer considered Palace as relegation candidates and they are within touching distance of making that a mathematical reality, but there is so much more to be achieved before the season concludes. Given a remit of steering the Palace ship until the end of the season, Hodgson has done that and some, with solid foundations established for his successor to build on.
But with Palace cutting loose in attack since Hodgson’s return, with the abundance of talent they have in their ranks consistently fulfilling its potential on the pitch, the 75-year-old has delivered an emphatic response to the criticism he received when his first spell in charge ended. Whether he would want to, or whether he would admit it, Hodgson may be the solution Palace are searching for.
Nottingham Forest signed Keylor Navas to bring in his wealth of experience to aid their survival charge.
The goalkeeper made vital saves to keep a clean sheet on his debut against Leeds – and many thought it was a shrewd signing.
But in the 2-1 defeat at Brentford he took his side from moving three points closer to safety to right back in the mire as the Bees scored two late goals.
The four-time European champion had had a relatively easy game up until that point. He made three vital saves to deny Kevin Schade, Ethan Pinnock and Mikkel Damsgaard in the minutes before his side took the lead – and was relatively untroubled in the second period.
But the man for the big moment let two Brentford goals squirm through him and Forest ended up with nothing. There was a bit of misfortune about the two goals – but a player of his experience has to do better.
Since that debut against Leeds, Navas has not kept a clean sheet in 13 games. Unlucky for him and his club.
Quite frankly, Brentford were awful for much of their comeback win over Nottingham Forest. At one stage, the cliche of “they could have played for X amount of hours and they still wouldn’t have scored” was on everyone’s lips.
But Brentford do what Brentford do. It was the fifth time the Bees have scored in the 90th minute or later this season, more than any other side in the Premier League.
Another statistic hits home about how Thomas Frank’s side need to improve. This was the first time they have won a league game this season while holding more than 50 per cent of the possession.
Back-to-back comfortable survivals mean Brentford have to now start acting like a Premier League regular.