How high can Brighton's Seagulls fly?
Background Image Via: Flickr/Jonathan Rolande. CC BY 4.0.
In the 2018/19 campaign, Brighton & Hove Albion narrowly avoided relegation. It's fair to say the South Coast side went backwards during their second season back in the top flight. Hence why I felt the decision to sack Chris Hughton was more than justified despite claims the Englishman was unfairly dismissed...
Around three months later, Brighton has made the ideal start to their Premier League term. Trouncing an excellent Watford side 3-0, away from home no less, was all new manager Graham Potter could have wished for. It genuinely couldn't have gone any better.
With each passing season, it feels like the strength-in-depth in the Premier League just keeps on improving. There's always at least one team that is jam-packed with talent fighting for survival. On the flip side, you'll often get a surprise package who climbs up the table unexpectedly. This time around it could be Potter's Brighton. Just how far can The Seagulls soar?
First and foremost, you have to credit Brighton for their risk-taking. Firing Hughton was a gamble. Bringing in Potter as his replacement was by no means guaranteeing success. Sure, we're only one game in but the early signs are positive. His wizardry was on full display at Vicarage Road last Saturday. Today's game against West Ham United provides a different test, though it's one they're more than capable of getting a result in providing they play well.
That leads me to my next point. Turning the Amex Stadium into a fortress is key. Picking up those all-important points at home is the often the season-defining factor for the majority of teams, but particularly those who're trying to trend upwards. It's rare that bottom-half teams will go to a big-six club and pick up points, but there's every chance of nicking a point (or maybe three) at home. As an example, Manchester United have fallen victim to Brighton on both of their Premier League trips to the South Coast...
Player-wise I often feel as though Brighton get overlooked. German midfielder Pascal Gross oozes class (he's an FPL bargain too, by the way). Lewis Dunk certainly should have more than one England cap while you know exactly what you're going to get out of Glenn Murray. The evergreen 35-year-old has been Brighton's top scorer over the last two seasons (scoring 14 and 15 in 2017/18 and 2018/19 respectively).
Signing-wise money has been spent, around £60million to be precise. Their most expensive purchase, Neal Maupay (£20m), hit the ground running as he scored on debut. Centre-back Adam Webster comes in with promise aplenty. He's the long-term partner for the aforementioned Dunk. Big things are expected from Leandro Trossard, too, while Aaron Mooy has proven his Premier League credentials with Huddersfield Town. His loan signing cannot be understated. He will make an impact.
If everyone buys in to what Potter is trying to achieve, relegation shouldn't even be a question. The confidence that the opening day victory will bring is priceless and if The Seagulls can go on one or two unbeaten runs throughout the duration of the campaign then they'll be absolutely fine - proving that the decision to relieve Hughton was the correct one.
For me, Brighton has every chance at finishing comfortably in mid-table. Maybe, just maybe, if they continue to pick up the points in the season's early-goings while they remain a 'surprise team', they could end up in the top ten, though they'll need a little luck along the way. Brighton & Hove Albion have an excellent squad, an ever-improving manager and an immensely loyal fan-base. The sky really is the limit...