Just under a week ago, the Roberto De Zerbi era began with a bang. Despite the early apprehension ahead of Albion's trip to Anfield, it appeared the south coast side were successful in seeing off any doubts that they could deliver, hitting Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool for three in a fixture which Brighton supporters may feel their side should’ve won.
However, as Brighton supporters will be aware, a vast majority of media coverage has reflected solely on Saturday’s hosts, with the argument of Liverpool’s poor performance overshadowing the masterclass performed by Roberto De Zerbi’s men. Naturally, a factor such as this would be one of frustration for supporters of the Seagulls. The south coast side’s performance last weekend was one which deserved plenty of plaudits, particularly due to the fact that the encounter itself was Roberto De Zerbi’s first in the Brighton dugout.
But what exactly did Brighton do well, and what did we learn from their performance? Below, The Woodwork takes a look at five things we learnt from Saturday’s visitors as they came from behind to earn a point at Anfield:
1: Graeme Souness was wrong- De Zerbi does know ‘our game’
As a vast majority of Brighton supporters will be aware, Graeme Souness did not hold back in his recent criticism of Brighton’s new manager, playing down his managerial experience before his Brighton side had even kicked a ball. Speaking on TalkSport shortly after Albion appointed De Zerbi, the former Liverpool midfielder stated that “I think it’s a risk. You’re bringing someone in who doesn’t know our game”.
Souness would go on to refer to his number of previous clubs, stating that “I think it’s a risk bringing someone with his CV, seven jobs in nine years. If you’re an outstanding coach then people want to hold onto you”. However, despite the criticism made by the former Scotland International, last Saturday highlighted that the Seagulls made the right choice. Roberto De Zerbi’s side started the encounter at Anfield in the strongest possible manner, scoring twice in 17 minutes away to a side which found themselves inches away from an elusive Quadruple just five months ago.
Whilst Brighton arguably deserved to come away with more on the day, their performance away to Liverpool highlighted the severe error made by Souness, with the Seagulls coming close to beating a team managed by a man who, ironically, hadn’t played or managed in England before his post in the North- West. 1-0 to De Zerbi.
2: Leandro Trossard is terrific- but Brighton need to keep him
Whether you travelled to Anfield on Saturday or simply stayed at home, there is one factor which remains prominent for supporters of the Seagulls: Leandro Trossard played a blinder for Brighton. The Belgian winger scored all three of Brighton’s goals at Anfield last weekend, becoming the first player to score a Premier League hat trick at Anfield since Andrey Arshavin’s four goal haul for Arsenal in April 2009.
However, Leandro Trossard’s masterclass at Anfield does provide great concern for the Belgian’s future on the south coast, with the increasing likelihood that fellow Premier League sides will be looking to make their move in January. Admittedly, the Albion’s fears may have been extinguished had Trossard played down such rumours. Instead, the 27-year-old hinted at a potential move away from the south coast, much to the frustration of those associated with his current club. In an interview with the BBC's Monday Night Club, Trossard referred to the rumours of a potential departure, starting that "It’s difficult to say anything about that now, it completely depends on which club would come.
If I feel good and things are good on a private level… but I also know how good I am at Brighton, also with new coach Roberto De Zerbi it looks promising ''. Whilst Trossard’s statement is somewhat concerning, it is important to remember that he is still Brighton’s man. However, if the Seagulls want to continue competing in the top half of the table as they currently are, it is vital Trossard’s future on the south coast is secured.
3: Solly March has still got it- and is still needed by Brighton
Sussex born Solly March played a vital role in Brighton’s encounter with Liverpool last weekend, ensuring he made a strong impression on new manager Roberto De Zerbi with a stellar shift for the Seagulls. The 28- year- old was heavily involved in Brighton’s first and second goals, the latter of which saw Solly earn an assist as his pass was picked up by hat-trick hero Leandro Trossard. Alongside this, March was constantly creating chances, the most notable example being his pin- point cross towards Danny Welbeck, a chance which, in truth, should’ve been converted by the former Manchester United man.
Whilst his performance away to Liverpool highlighted the importance of his role within the team, it is evident that De Zerbi has been a supporter of Solly for some time. Speaking ahead of the Liverpool clash, De Zerbi stated that “I have spoken with March as well, because for me Solly is a key player. I want him to understand why he will be important for me, I want him to have responsibilities that will help increase the number of goals, because I fully trust him”. Therefore, given the relationship between March and De Zerbi, in addition to his performance last Saturday, it is evident that Solly March will continue to be in Brighton’s plans for the forthcoming future.
4: Danny Welbeck is reliable- but Brighton need more from him
As a consequence of the attacking brand of football which is likely to define the Roberto De Zerbi era, it is expected that Brighton’s forwards will have to deliver in a far more vigorous manner compared to that of the Graham Potter era. Therefore, it is vital that Brighton get more out of Danny Welbeck if he is to start every game. Whilst it must be acknowledged that Welbeck did provide a contribution to Brighton’s opening goal by assisting Trossard, Brighton supporters would have been frustrated by Welbeck’s poor form in front of goal at Anfield.
The 31- year- old was provided with a handful of free headers in both halves of the encounter, however he was unable to take the opportunity to secure all three points for the Seagulls. Admittedly, Welbeck has been reliable for Brighton in the past. The former England International scored six goals in the top- flight for the Seagulls last season, in addition to securing two assists for his side. However, Welbeck is yet to find the back of the net this season, a worrying statistic given De Zerbi’s aim of getting the Albion to play a far quicker, more efficient brand of attacking football. Therefore, De Zerbi has a difficult choice to make: Either get the best out of Welbeck or drop him for Denis Undav.
5: The dream of a European push could genuinely materialise
Just under five months ago, Brighton recorded arguably their greatest achievement of the current century. The Seagulls soared towards their highest ever league finish, ending the 2021/22 league campaign in a record high spot of ninth. Whilst the departure of key figures in the summer, such as Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella, may have cast a shadow of doubt over the potential of Brighton exceeding such an achievement, it appears as though the dream of another record-breaking season could soon become a reality.
Whilst it is still early days in the De Zerbi era, the manner of Brighton’s attacking football as highlighted last weekend cannot be overlooked. Admittedly, the Liverpool side which took to the field last weekend was a poor one. However, it is still a mean feat for any side to travel to Anfield and put the hosts to the sword as Brighton did last Saturday. In time, De Zerbi will get to know more about his players strengths and weaknesses, in addition to working out how to get the best out of his side and the individuals within it. Once this happens, there are no limits to what Brighton can achieve.