Commitment won’t be an issue for Brighton. But will quality?

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Brighton get their second Premier League season underway against Watford. (Photo credit: brightonandhovealbion.com)

Commitment won’t be an issue for Brighton. But will quality?

by Ryan Conway

Last season

Premier League: 15th
F.A. Cup: Quarter-finals (lost vs Manchester United)
Carabao Cup: Third round (lost vs Bournemouth)

Chris Hughton enhanced his managerial credentials by keeping Brighton in the Premier League last season. At times the squad looked thin and lacked real strength in depth, but the former Newcastle boss leaned on experience, organisation and team spirit to propel them to 15th in the league.

The club has undergone major changes in personnel with a revolving door of changes. Getting more quality within the squad has been the aim as Hughton brought in two midfielders, four defenders, two strikers and a pair of goalkeepers.

Outside of Glenn Murray’s 12 goals last campaign, the Seagulls found goals at a premium. Florin Andone has been recruited from Deportivo La Coruna, the Romanian international netted on 19 occasions across two seasons for the relegated La Liga outfit. He will be expected to take some pressure off his 35-year-old strike partner.

Brighton only scored 34 goals last season, the third lowest in the league. Only Huddersfield Town scored fewer and were able to avoid the drop. While they did reach the magical 40-point mark, they may have to reach and surpass that figure when it comes to finding the net.

Depth at full-back was added in the shape of Bernardo from RB Leipzig and former Barcelona defender Martin Montonya. Both are typical modern-day attacking wing-backs with an emphasis of creating more opportunities for the attacking players.

Consolidating their league status will be paramount to Hughton, whether they have the quality to survive remains to be seen but there is no questioning their team spirit which saw them get wins at home over Arsenal and Manchester United.

Player to watch: Anthony Knockaert

Anthony Knockaert needs to be a creative force for Brighton. (Photo credit: brightonandhovealbion.com)

The Frenchman was instrumental in getting Brighton promoted two seasons ago, scoring 15 goals and laying on eight more. But he struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League.

Knockaert registered just three goals and one assists last term, if Brighton are to survive they will need more from their prized playmaker. With his style more suited perhaps to when the south coast side play more open football, the former Leicester City man may have to learn to be more efficient with his use of the ball if the style of play means they spend large periods of games without possession.

There is perhaps a glass ceiling hanging over the 26-year-old. Leicester deemed him expendable as he only made nine Premier League appearances for The Foxes. The worry will be Knockaert occupies an odd purgatory of being too good for the Championship but not quite at the level required to thrive in England’s top division.

If he can find his Championship form, however, then Brighton’s bid for survival should be made smoother as they will create more goalscoring chances provided by the Frenchman. If he can reach ten league goals for the season he will ease the pressure on his forwards.

Players in: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Yves Bissouma (Lille), Bernardo (RB Leipzig), Martin Montoya (Valencia), Florin And one (Deportivo La Coruna), David Button (Fulham), Dan Burn (Wigan Athletic), Percy Tau (Sundowns), Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz), Jason Steele (Sunderland), Leo Ostigard (Molde), Billy Arce (Independiente), Peter Gwargis (Jonkoping).

Players out: Sam Baldock (Reading), Connor Goldson (Rangers), Jamie Murphy (Rangers), Jiri Skalak (Millwall), Tyler Hornby-Forbes (Newport County), Tim Krul (Norwich City), Niki Maenpaa (Bristol City), Uwe Hunemeier (SC Paderborn), Christian Walton (Wigan Athletic – loan), Ales Mateju (Brescia – loan), Liam Rosenior (retired), Steve Sidwell (released), Rohan Ince (released).

Predicted finish: 17th

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