Pre-Season Preview – Brighton & Hove Albion

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Brighton & Hove Albion head into their third consecutive season in the English Premier League, this time under the stewardship of new boss Graham Potter.

The former Östersunds and Swansea manager replaces previous incumbent Chris Hughton after the former Republic of Ireland international was sacked following a disappointing second half of the 2018/19. Although Albion reached the FA Cup semi-final, poor form in the league saw them finish 17th and hovering just above the relegation trapdoor.

In their previous two two seasons in the top flight, ‘The Seagulls’ have possessed a mix of hard working, disciplined players along with those that are neat and tidy in possession. They have however, increasingly lacked creativity and relied heavily on the goals of 2018/19 top scorer (with 15 goals), the aging Glenn Murray.

Brighton’s stay in the top flight has been built on the solid foundations of central defensive pairing Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk in front of Australian international goalkeeper Matt Ryan.

Transfers

Potter’s squad has seen the usual influx of fringe players and youngsters returning from loan spells last season. Some of which have gone out for another temporary spell elsewhere this time around.

Young goalkeeper Christian Walton, South African Percy Tau and Alexis Mac Allister head out for a second consecutive loan spell, while slightly surprisingly, enterprising winger Anthony Knockaert has joined Fulham on a season-long loan.

Richie Towell and Markus Suttner have left the club permanently while veteran Spanish full-back Bruno has retired.

Brighton have spent just short of £60m on new recruits this summer including the arrivals of centre back Adam Webster (£19.67m), winger Leandro Trossard from KRC Genk (£18m) and Brentford striker Neal Maupay who also joined for £18m. Aaron Mooy also joined earlier on a season-long loan.

Central defender Matt Clarke was signed for £3.5m from Portsmouth and immediately loaned to championship side Derby County to aid his development.

Fixtures

Brighton begin their season with a tough trip to Vicarage Road to face Watford. In the weeks that follow, Albion have potentially winnable home games against West Ham, Southampton and Burnley respectively. Other early season games sees Brighton face a daunting looking trip to champions Manchester City and a visit to St James’ Park to face Newcastle.

Manager

Graham Potter told brightonandhovealbion.com he’s been pleased with his players in training and admitted he faces selection dilemmas ahead of the seasons opener:

“The guys have trained really well everyday and that’s what you want. You want headaches and selection problems, because you got a good group of guys that want to play and help the team.

“You’ve got to pick only eleven and of course people will be disappointed with that, but that’s just part of the job and part of the realities of football at this level.

“You need competition, but you could see from the guys coming onto the pitch that there wasn’t any disappointment, they were totally professional. Everyone is fighting and wants to play, so that’s good for me.”

Targets

The Seagulls hit a wall towards the end of last season and looked to be regressing. They will be hoping the appointment of Graham Potter will provide fresh impetus and an upward trajectory.

Brighton will be amongst the favourites for the drop however, and while they have addressed some areas the team were lacking in last season, it remains to be seen whether they have enough quality or strength in depth to survive this season.

Expected starting XI

Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong, Trossard, Stephens, Propper, Gross, Maupay, Murray

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