Brighton had their first premier league clean sheet of the season at West Ham

Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi praised his side’s “very smart game” after they kept their first Premier League clean sheet of the season at West Ham.

It was the first time in 24 league matches Brighton have not conceded a goal, ending a club-record run.

Brighton had more possession and better chances in a largely dour game to open 2024 for both sides at London Stadium.

But they were unable to break through a West Ham defence which in contrast has now kept four consecutive clean sheets.

De Zerbi said the focus on Brighton’s failure to shut out opponents was more a media concern than his, but he was nevertheless happy with his defence.

He told BBC Sport: “I’m really pleased with the performance. We made a clean sheet so the journalists are happy because Brighton made a clean sheet.

“We played a great game. We deserved to win. We played a very smart game because the best quality of West Ham is counter-attack and we played with a focus – don’t concede a counter-attack.

“We created eight clear chances to score and I’m really pleased for the performance, the understanding of the play I want and demand.”

A point moves Brighton into seventh place, above Manchester United, while West Ham are three points further ahead in sixth.

Areola earns Hammers a point

In a first half low on quality and chances, West Ham came closest to taking the lead when James Ward-Prowse’s powerful volley was saved by the legs of Jason Steele.

For Brighton, Jack Hinshelwood and Pascal Gross were both denied by point-blank stops from home keeper Alphonse Areola.

Brighton continued to dominate possession after the break, Areola again having to react sharply to Pervis Estupinan’s low shot on 55 minutes before Joao Pedro shot straight at the Frenchman after a mazy run.

Tomas Soucek poked wide from six yards in West Ham’s clearest second-half chance, before Jakub Moder slashed over for Brighton from close range in the closing minutes.

Brighton had 68% possession and 22 shots to West Ham’s six, leaving David Moyes to say his side were somewhat fortunate to clinch a point.

“We rode our luck a wee bit. It’s been a really good Christmas period, three wins and a draw. No complaints,” he told BBC Sport.

Post-Christmas stalemate at London Stadium

James Milner (left) made his 632nd Premier League appearance, putting him joint second alongside Ryan Giggs in the all-time list

While this was the first match of 2024 for both sides, it was also the final Premier League fixture of the hectic festive period – which perhaps played a role in the low tempo and lack of opportunities.

West Ham missed the injured Lucas Paqueta, while there are also signs that Mohammed Kudus will be a big loss when he is on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Ghana.

Vladimir Coufal, amid reports he is unhappy with his contract situation and seeking a move away from London Stadium in January, was also absent from the matchday squad.

In poor conditions brought about by Storm Henk, neither side were able to raise enough energy to claim three points as both look ahead to a new year which has the potential for much more excitement.

Both sides remain firmly in the hunt for European qualification – and there is the chance they could meet in the latter stages of the Europa League, having won their respective groups to gain automatic passage to the last 16.

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