Four things
we learnt from Brighton’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Sheffield United
Mahmoud Dahoud became the 13th man to be sent off for Brighton in a Premier League match for his foul on Sheffield United's Ben Osborn. (Photo by Steve Bardens / Getty Images). 

Brighton and Sheffield United played out a dramatic 1-1 draw at The Amex Stadium as the Seagulls’ injury concerns and the sending-off of Mahmoud Dahoud proved too much to overcome.

Visitors United lifted themselves off the foot of the Premier League table with a hard-fought point, with Adam Webster’s own goal enough to deny Brighton the win.

For Roberto De Zerbi’s side, it was another game from which they will believe they should have got more, but with seven players out injured they may be thankful it was not worse.

Both managers undoubtedly learned more about their sides from a tough 90 minutes, starting with a big statement from Brighton’s young guns.

  • Brighton show character in adversity

Already without Danny Welbeck, Solly March and Julio Enciso, Brighton also lost Lewis Dunk, James Milner and Pervis Estupiñán to injury against Ajax, while Tariq Lamptey remains an ongoing concern.

All this considered, there was a huge onus on the remaining experienced heads – namely Pascal Gross, Jason Steele and the recalled Adam Lallana – to steer the ship in this contest.

With Lallana switched out at half-time and Mahmoud Dahoud shown a straight red card in the 69th minute, however, the experience in the Seagulls’ ranks was slashed.

It was left to the likes of Jan Paul van Hecke, Simon Adingra and Carlos Baleba – all in their first full season in the side – to protect the 1-0 lead in the final 20 minutes, and deny Sheffield United the win in the final 15.

In this sense, Brighton should take plenty of heart from the point they ended up with.

Though frustrating considering the number of chances they had and how much of the ball they possessed, the final result for the Seagulls is a positive one, keeping them in eighth position in the Premier League and very much in touch with those in European places.

It was a huge statement from a side with limited exposure to these situations – six of the final 10 players on the pitch had less than 25 Premier League Albion appearances – and a very creditable point as a result.

  • Sheffield United are beginning to click

After a dismal start to life back in England’s top tier, Sheffield United got things purring last weekend with a 2-1 win at Wolves that had everyone talking.

That victory saw the Video Assistant Referee play a huge part in awarding a last-minute penalty, and it will not have escaped the attention of everyone at The Amex that the Blades had some small fortune again.

Jayden Bogle survived a handball shout as he blocked a Dahoud cross in the second half, while the VAR also approved the decision to send Dahoud off for a foul on Ben Osborn.

While both decisions aided the visitors, there has to be credit for the way Paul Heckingbottom’s side defended on the South Coast considering they have shipped a bucketload of goals this season.

A back three of Jack Robinson, George Baldock and Auston Trusty were playing together for just the second time this season, and their mix of physicality and mobility was a brilliant test for Brighton.

Further frustrating the hosts, former Seagull Ollie Norwood had an excellent afternoon shielding his backline, and the energy of wing-backs Luke Thomas and Bogle ensured the Blades could break out from the back.

With Gustavo Hamer and Cameron Archer becoming more suited to Premier League football every week and Wes Foderingham gaining confidence in his defence too, hard work has paid off for United as they have made vital progress in the last week.

  • De Zerbi faces a crossroads

In the performances of three players on a low-key Sunday, Brighton learned a little more about how their squad may shape up going forward.

Fans have been divided on the futures of Adam Webster and Facundo Buonanotte at times this season, while the development of Dahoud in a Seagulls shirt has seen some teething issues.

Unfortunately, all three faced issues against a Blades side that tried to exploit their deficiencies.

Webster will take the greatest flak as the most senior player of the three, with 158 Premier League appearances to his name, due to his ungainly own goal.

This will face its inquest in training, no doubt, but Roberto De Zerbi would be wise to exercise the support in the press that he has shown for Dahoud of late.

Dahoud didn’t play a lot of games in the last two years,” De Zerbi recently said of his German midfielder.

“He changed country, language, style of play. He is a shy guy, and he needed a lot of time to come into the team.

“He is the right player for us,” De Zerbi added.

Of course, Dahoud is a De Zerbi signing, while Webster and Buonanotte are not. The latter did get his Premier League debut under the Italian, but there were rumours he would have been loaned out this season had Enciso not picked up his long-term meniscus injury.

For De Zerbi, a manager who says he has got on with ’99 per cent’ of the players he has worked with, there will soon come a breaking point.

If Webster and Buonanotte are frozen out and moved on, it could reflect poorly on the boss.

The Italian would be smart to back the duo further and keep them involved in the progress of the squad, and if he does, it is up to the players to perform.

  • Blades know their next step

Having found a solid defensive foundation, Sheffield United have ground out two positive results against high-quality sides.

They still sit second-bottom of the division with just five points to their name, but with some energy in the group, they should now be looking to bridge the gap to the sides around them.

That means improving in the final third.

Now, Heckingbottom may cite the absence of Oli McBurnie, Rhian Brewster and Daniel Jebbison as major hindrances on his side’s conversion at The Amex, and fans will point to the summer sale of Iliman Ndiaye, but this isn’t good enough.

When the chips are down and a relegation battle is underway, sides must look to create goals from everywhere.

United had just one shot on target in this meeting, and though a further eight were off target, this isn’t sufficient for a side that had 25 minutes of numerical advantage.

The simple solution would be to dip into the transfer market to find a new attacking spark.

With the Prince Abdullah regime showing few signs of ending, however, big funds should not be expected in January and more trust should be afforded to young forwards Bénie Traoré and William Osula in the coming weeks.

If those two – who got just seven minutes between them at The Amex – develop just as McBurnie, Brewster and Jebbison return, a varied and skilful attack is in store for the Blades.

It could be just in time, because by heck do they need it.