Seagulls Emerge as Big Winners

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A round-up of the opening weekend of the Premier League's return.

Brighton completed the double over Arsenal with a late win at the weekend

Brighton’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal has put them in a fantastic position to avoid relegation while Chelsea have tightened their grip on fourth place.

The Seagulls had emerged as serious contenders for relegation prior to the enforced break after winning just once in 14 league outings.

However, they returned to action with a bang on Saturday as goals from Lewis Dunk and Neal Maupay earned a 2-1 triumph at home to the Gunners.

Brighton, who are now unbeaten in five meetings with Arsenal, remain in 15th spot but now have a five-point cushion to the drop zone after watching their relegation rivals struggle.

There is no doubt that Graham Potter’s men were the big winners at the bottom as Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and West Ham all tasted defeat, while Watford had to settle for a point.

Fight Against the Drop

Norwich’s hopes of surviving are hanging by a thread after losing 3-0 at home to Southampton on Friday.

They are six points from safety with comfortably the worst goal difference in the division and will need a miracle to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Villa are one place and five points better off after drawing with Sheffield United and losing to Chelsea.

A lack of squad depth appears to be a major issue for Dean Smith and their task isn’t likely to get any easier as they prepare to face Newcastle, Wolves, Liverpool and Manchester United over the next few weeks.

Bournemouth, 4/9 to be relegated, rolled over when Crystal Palace came to town on Saturday, losing 2-0, and problems are seriously mounting for Eddie Howe’s men, who are winless in five and have lost four times during that sequence.

West Ham, who are priced at 7/4 to be relegated, also have major concerns in the battle to avoid the drop, sitting outside of the relegation zone on goal difference alone, after a 2-0 loss at home to Wolves.

Watford still have plenty of work to do but a point at home to third-placed Leicester must be regarded as a positive.

They looked set to lose at Vicarage Road when Ben Chilwell netted in the 90th minute but Craig Dawson salvaged a draw with his first goal in 31 Premier League appearances deep into stoppage time, his first for the Hornets.

Battle for Europe

The race for European football also looks set to be an exciting one during the run-in with eighth place potentially set to provide a route into the Europa League.

Leicester remain third but are just three points ahead of Chelsea, 4/9 for a top-four finish, after the west Londoners came from behind to see off Villa.

Chelsea’s win has opened up a five-point gap to Manchester United in fifth following the Red Devils’ draw at Tottenham on Friday.

Of course, fifth place could offer Champions League football if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld, however, United can’t rely on that favour and will hope to reel in Chelsea in the remaining eight games.

Wolves’ win at West Ham has moved them up to sixth, at the expense of Sheffield United, and level on points with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.

Sheffield United, 6/1 to claim a top-six finish, have already played twice but will need to improve to keep alive their hopes of claiming an unlikely spot in Europe.

They were controversially held to a goalless draw by Aston Villa upon their return before losing 3-0 at Newcastle on Sunday.

Tottenham are in eighth and nine points adrift of the top four while Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Burnley and Everton have slim hopes of making a late push for Europe.

*All odds correct at the time of writing

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion, but has also commentated and written on a number of other sports including golf, cricket, tennis and rugby.
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