Roberto De Zerbi remains winless as Brighton boss after his side slipped to a 0-0 draw with Nottingham Forest.
Despite creating ample opportunities, especially in the first half, Brighton failed to score for the third game running as they simply ran out of ideas against a resolute if limited Forest.
Leandro Trossard clipped the bar and Dean Henderson was called upon to make six saves, the pick of which came late on to deny Pascal Gross.
This was Brighton’s 16th 0-0 since the start of the 19/20 season – the most of any Premier League side in that period.
Forest took 59 minutes to register a shot or even have a touch in Brighton’s penalty box – but it was another improved defensive showing with a point lifting them off the bottom of the table.
Forest boss Steve Cooper said: “We’ve been on a poor run and could have been even more deflated when a few things didn’t go our way against Wolves. But we showed resilience, spirit and desire. It was a good point. If we were higher in league, it would have been a great point.”
Brighton: Sanchez (7), Veltman (7), Dunk (7), Webster (7), March (7), Mac Allister (7), Caicedo (7), Lallana (6), Gross (6), Welbeck (6), Trossard (7)
Subs: Lamptey (7), Undav (6)
Nottingham Forest: Henderson (8), Williams (7), Cook (8), McKenna (8), Aurier (7), Freuler (7), Yates (7), Mangala (6), Lingard (6), Johnson (6), Gibbs-White (6)
Subs: Worrall (7), Biancone (6), Toffolo (6), Awonyi (6), Kouyate (7)
Man of the match: Dean Henderson
A tale of frustration for Brighton…
Brighton paid tribute pre-match to Enock Mwepu in their first home game since his sad retirement because of a hereditary heart condition, and the home fans chanted his name throughout the opening stages.
The Seagulls played with great intricacy and flow with Forest sitting deep, but it took them 29 minutes to create a strong opening as Joel Veltman blazed over from 12 yards.
- Adam Lallana was the only change for Roberto De Zerbi from the defeat at Brentford as he replaced Pervis Estupinan.
- Steve Cooper made three changes from the side that lost 1-0 at Wolves with Jesse Lingard, Orel Mangala and Serge Aurier all handed starts
That opened the floodgates for Brighton. Solly March tested Henderson with a low drive before Trossard crashed an effort off the top of the bar.
Henderson then produced a brilliant double save to deny Gross and Danny Welbeck as Brighton yet again failed to capitalise on their dominance in a home game.
With frustration levels growing as the game wore on, Forest sensed their hard graft may just be enough for an unlikely point. Brennan Johnson scampered away on 59 minutes but his effort from the angle went out for a throw in – one of just two shots Forest had in the game.
Back at the other end, Brighton remained cool in possession but limp in attack. Forest defended their box very astutely and when required their goalkeeper came to their rescue. Gross thought he had scored with eight minutes to go but Henderson’s reactions were superb to claw the chance away.
Brighton have now failed to score with their last 54 shots with 18 of those on target.
Problems for De Zerbi to fix.
A tough watch but Forest are digging in
Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones writes:
Steve Cooper has made a bold decision to go against all his natural principles when it comes to football in order to get Nottingham Forest up the table. He is a manager who likes his players to play with freedom, to express themselves.
That, for now, is very much in the bin.
It’s all about defensive security and discipline in the search for Premier League points. Jesse Lingard and Brennan Johnson, two players that like to create and posses an abundance of talent in forward areas, were made to run and run some more at The Amex. Lingard had just 16 touches. Johnson had 10. Even the Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez had more than both of the Forest duo combined.
It took Forest 59 minutes to record a touch in the Brighton box and they managed just three shots on Sanchez’s goal. The goalkeeper could have got his deck chair out and read a good book such was the lack of action he saw.
But despite the lack of excitement as an attacking unit, Forest have now taken two points from the last nine available. It’s certainly a start but such lack of adventure and freedom in their play must be hard for Cooper to watch.
De Zerbi enjoyed Brighton’s performance
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi: “In my experience in the Premier League it’s not the first time my team play like this and we can’t win. I don’t want to speak about whether it’s unfair or unlucky.
“I say thanks to the players. Today I enjoyed a lot. I watched a very fantastic game. We shoot 20 times, we have a lot of chances. We have to work in the last 25 metres to choose the best solution. We have to attack the space better, to work in the last pass.
“You can choose the way to win. You can choose what style of play you can play. These players have chosen their way. I really like this way. This evening we’re sorry for the result. This is our way to achieve our result.”
Cooper: We showed resilience, spirit and desire
Forest boss Steve Cooper said: “It was always going to be tough. Brighton are a really good team. We’ve been on a poor run and could have been even more deflated when a few things didn’t go our way against Wolves. But we showed resilience, spirit and desire. It was a good point. If we were higher in league, it would have been a great point.
“Is that what we want to be tonight? No. But there is small progress, but a lot to improve on.
“We want to be more of a threat and create more chances. We’ve had times where we’ve been that but we’ve conceded too many goals. We need to find a balance. We’re going to have to defend more this season.
“We need to pick up enough points whilst becoming the team we need to be.”
Opta stats: Boring, boring Brighton?
- Since Brighton’s debut Premier League season (2017-18), the Seagulls have failed to score in more games (72) and played out more goalless draws (23) than any other side in the competition.
- Having picked up four points from their first three Premier League games this season (W1, D1, L1), Nottingham Forest have since won just two points from their eight games in the competition (D2 and L6), although they did keep their first away clean sheet in the top-flight since February 1999 this evening (0-0 vs Charlton).
- De Zerbi (D2 and L2) is the first Brighton manager to fail to win any of his first four league games in charge since Barry Lloyd, who failed to win his first 12 in charge between January and April 1987.
Brighton visit Manchester City on Saturday at the Etihad at 3pm in the Premier League while Nottingham Forest host Liverpool at the City Ground on the same day; kick-off 12.30pm.