Burnley boss Sean Dyche claimed that his players deserve huge credit for the way in which they’ve realigned since the disappointment of defeat to Everton on Boxing Day.
At that stage the Clarets had been swallowed in to the bottom three, with Huddersfield Town and Fulham for company, and they were 10 points adrift of Brighton, who had just taken a point off Arsenal.
But a 3-1 win at the Amex Stadium at the weekend, their 15th point accrued from the last seven games, brought Burnley level on points with the Seagulls going in to the break.
“It was a tough day on Boxing Day, we had to realign,” said Dyche. “They take massive credit for that because in the next game against West Ham we were excellent and it floods back in very quickly.
“As a manager it’s really difficult to put your finger on it because you’re working diligently with the staff and the players. When it comes back you can smell it and after West Ham you could feel it coming back in to the group.
“We’ve delivered some very good performances. Today was a different kind of performance, I think they’re a really good side. We felt they were probably going to have the ball and try and dominate the game.
“We’d have to be really resilient, do all the basic things well, key players play well and we would have to take our chances. It did pan out like that.”
The visitors were as clinical as they’ve ever been in East Sussex, converting 60% of their shots on target.
Chris Wood netted his first double for the club since the 3-0 win over West Ham at the London Stadium last term to give the Clarets a two-goal cushion on the hour.
And then Ashley Barnes stretched the advantage from the penalty spot having been bundled over by Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
“I was pleased with that today apart from Barnesy when he headed one over from four feet. I wasn’t so happy with that moment.
“He stuck it as he does and he’s got himself a reward with the penalty. Chris Wood was excellent. When you’ve got that in your team, that’s why strikers get the big money.
“They’re the difference often enough and the rest of the team respond to that. We’ve got two up there at the moment who are playing very well and we’ve got others who can effect it from the bench.
“I thought the front two were absolutely excellent today because when you’re up there and you haven’t got as much of the ball the service is indifferent at times.
“To stay alert and take them moments is really important. I think them two are in really good form at the moment and they’ve done it again today.”
The away side were fortunate to escape any punishment when Jeff Hendrick appeared to handle the ball inside his own penalty area, just 15 seconds before Barnes was brought down at the other end.
Dyche appreciates that moment went in his side’s favour but he’s seen many go against him in recent weeks.
He said: “We’ve had three away games where we’ve had three massive decisions go against us and afterwards we proved that they were incorrect.
“I try not to get too much involved in it when I can. It’s difficult, but I think referees have a tough job. If there was a decision that went for us today, that’s the way it goes.
“Over a season you think there’s a balance, it’s like the penalty situation. I said to the lads in the week that we will get more now because 68 games is a statistical anomaly.
“I don’t mean literally back-to-back like we did - it’s likely that you do start getting more penalties. We knew they’d given quite a few penalties away here this season.
“If anyone’s going to deserve to get a penalty it had to be Barnsey because we all know what happened last week [against Southampton]. He’s slotted it very well.”