How far can Graham Potter’s Brighton go this season?
As the pre-season summer schedule drew to a close, writers and pundits began to provide their predictions on the upcoming league campaign. Whilst a vast majority of the league table predictions differed, it appeared the common denominator amongst pundits and writers alike was the belief that Brighton would struggle to recreate their record-breaking finish from the previous campaign.
Despite the fact that a ball was yet to be kicked, articles on the Albion appeared affirmative in arguing that the departures of key figures, such as Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella, would hinder Brighton’s hopes of another outstanding season.
Six games into the new season, it appears the Seagulls have silenced those with early doubts. Graham Potter’s side have soared towards the top four in their opening six matches of the campaign, gaining 13 points out of a possible 18 in a run of form which has earned them plenty of plaudits.
But can Albion continue to excel? In this article, the potential of another stellar season for the Seagulls will be assessed, allowing an understanding of what Graham Potter’s side could potentially achieve and the men who will be key in achieving it.
League Prediction: 8th
Although it must be acknowledged that there have only been six games so far, there is plenty of reason for supporters of the Seagulls to feel as though their side are on course for another astounding season.
The south coast side currently find themselves fourth in the league table with four wins out of a possible six, a remarkable factor given that Brighton have never found themselves in the top four of the Premier League after six games played. Whilst some supporters may believe that the departures of Bissouma and Cucurella could yet prove to be costly, it appears as though the Albion have taken these departures in their stride. Therefore, given the sensational start to the new season, it is likely the Seagulls will supersede their record-breaking finish from the previous campaign.
The key figures:
Whilst the departure of Marc Cucurella may have been a disappointing one for Brighton supporters, it appears as though the Albion have secured themselves a second coming of the Spanish left back in the form of Pervis Estupiñán. The Ecuadorian International earned himself plenty of plaudits with his former side Villareal, making 74 appearances for the Spanish side in a stint which saw him win the UEFA Europa League. Although Estupiñán has only played four matches for Brighton thus far, it is evident that a player of his calibre can guide the Seagulls to another stellar season. Therefore, given the importance of the left back role in Graham Potter’s plans, as highlighted last season with Cucurella, it is crucial that Potter ensures Estupiñán gains as much game time as possible in his debut season with the Seagulls.
Alexis Mac Allister
As Brighton supporters will be aware, the departure of Marc Cucurella to Chelsea was not the only significant departure for the Seagulls this summer, with midfielder Yves Bissouma departing Brighton for Tottenham in June. Whilst Bissouma’s departure initially appeared to be a blow for Brighton, it appears as though their midfield has not suffered to the extent that many believed before a ball was kicked. Instead, Brighton’s midfield has gone from strength to strength, complemented by the efforts of a key figure in Alexis Mac Allister.
The Argentine midfielder has enjoyed a stellar start to the season, striking home four times for the Seagulls in a run of form which has earned him a spot at the top of Brighton’s goal scoring tally. In his most recent outing for the Albion, Mac Allister struck twice in a three-goal thrashing of Leicester City, a match which saw him denied of a contender for goal of the season due to a controversial VAR decision to rule out the goal. Despite the disallowed wonder strike last Sunday, it is evident that Mac Allister is in fine form. The 23-year-old finds himself just one goal behind his tally from the previous campaign, an encouraging figure given the number of games played thus far. Therefore, if Mac Allister is able to stay fit, it is likely he will prove to be Brighton’s midfield maestro in what could be another record campaign for the Albion.
Arguably one of the most crucial pieces in Graham Potter’s plans is midfielder Moisés Caicedo. The 20-year-old has earned plenty of plaudits since signing for the Seagulls last year, with a handful of clubs rumoured to be interested in the young midfielder. Whilst it must be acknowledged that Caicedo did not make a large number of appearances for the Albion last season, it is evident that the Ecuadorian International has earnt his spot in the starting line-up this season.
Caicedo has featured in every league game thus far this season for the Seagulls, playing a key role in midfield with a tackle success rate of 63% in his opening six matches. In his last match, Caicedo scored his first goal of the season, striking home after just fifteen minutes as Albion overcame Leicester at the Amex. Whilst one goal in six matches may not appear to be an outstanding statistic, it is evident that Caicedo is beginning to establish himself as a midfielder of the highest class. However, as highlighted in the summer, there are a number of clubs with great interest in the Ecuadorian. As those associated with Albion will be aware, the loss of a key figure such as Caicedo could hinder any hopes of another top half finish. Thankfully for Brighton supporters, Caicedo has stayed put on the South coast, opting to start the new season with the Seagulls once more. If Brighton can keep Caicedo, the ambition of another stellar season might just materialise.