Crunch time for Seagulls as eight battle for survival

Brighton and Hove Albion

Norwich look destined for relegation but Brighton are among at least seven clubs fighting to keep their Premier League status alive.

The Canaries’ bright start to the campaign is now in the history books, as a return of just four points since beating Everton on November 23 means they are rock bottom of the top-flight standings and eight points from safety.

Bournemouth’s woeful runs sees them 19th while Aston Villa occupy the third spot in the relegation zone after a 6-1 thrashing at home to Manchester City and Watford’s continued revival under Nigel Pearson.

The Hornets have won four and drawn one of their past five league games and are now one point clear of the bottom three, and with the wind in their sails it would be no surprise if they kept climbing the table.

West Ham are level with them on 22 points, below Burnley and the Seagulls who have 24.

Newcastle United are two points better off but, currently going through a rocky patch, could find themselves right in the mire if they do not turn things around.

Even at this stage of the campaign, it looks as though the fight for top-flight survival will go right to the wire, with teams having to win or draw on the final day of the season to stay afloat.

Fans at the Amex will hope that is not the case with their club and the signs are positive that they may not have to endure ‘squeaky bum’ time in May.

They may have won just one in seven but have picked up points from draws with Wolves, Crystal Palace and Chelsea and have conceded more than two goals in a top-flight match just twice so far this term.

That is a statistic that means the south-coast outfit nearly always give themselves a chance of getting something from the match and they went down to Everton on Saturday by the only goal of the game.

However, it is wins and not draws that clubs need at this stage of the season and Watford have shown just what can happen when you string together the right results.

Therefore, Brighton’s next four fixtures will go a long way in determining if they do manage to stave off the drop.

Next up is the visit of Aston Villa while Graham Potter takes his men along the coast to Bournemouth on January 21.

A trip to West Ham follows before Pearson’s Hornets arrive on February 8 and a decent haul from that quartet will see them well on their way to another season in the promised land.