Last Saturday, Brighton suffered their third loss in five games as they fell to a 3-1 defeat away to title holders Manchester City.
Despite the resilience of Roberto De Zerbi’s side, it would be the hosts who secured victory on the day, with a Haaland brace and a Kevin De Bruyne wonderstrike enough to secure all three points for the Citizens.
The result meant that Brighton slipped to 9th in the Premier League table, with a first victory under Roberto De Zerbi still proving elusive.
But was the defeat as straightforward as the scoreline suggests, or is there still plenty to learn from the encounter? Below are five things we learnt from Brighton in last weekend’s visit to the North- West:
Once again, Trossard was terrific
Scorer of the Seagull’s solitary goal last Saturday was Leandro Trossard- and what a goal it was. The Belgian winger unleashed a superb strike in the early stages of the second half, firing low beyond Ederson to claw Brighton back into the game. Whilst the goal did not prove to be the start of a Brighton comeback, it was clear that the goal itself lifted spirits amongst the south coast side, allowing the Albion to unnerve their opponents as they pushed for an equaliser. As Brighton fans will be aware, last Saturday wasn’t the first time that Trossard has had a positive impact on the pitch. It was just over three weeks ago when the 27- year- old struck three past Alisson to secure a precious point for the Albion at Anfield. Leandro Trossard is Brighton’s top scorer this season for a reason- last Saturday proved why.
VAR- What is it good for?
The Premier League is a funny league to feature in at the moment. Prima- donna players storming away from the action, managers creating the strangest of excuses for defeat and title favourites slipping out of the top half; all of these occurring before Christmas. However, most football fans would agree that there is nothing stranger at the minute than VAR. Unfortunately for Brighton fans, last Saturday proved how controversial VAR can be. Just before the stroke of half time at the Etihad, referee Craig Pawson awarded a penalty to Manchester City, having been aided by VAR in judging whether Lewis Dunk had fouled Bernardo Silva. However, the decision had caused great frustration for Brighton supporters on social media, with some arguing that Bernardo Silva had left his leg out with the intention of initiating contact with Lewis Dunk. As a result, Manchester City would be awarded a spot kick, with Erling Haaland converting from 12 yards to put the hosts two goals ahead. Whilst the decision to award the penalty will undoubtably split opinions, it must be acknowledged that the decision itself played a strong role in Manchester City’s eventual victory. Whether VAR got it right, however, is an entirely different argument.
Defensive mistakes costing Brighton once again
In recent years, Brighton’s back line has earnt plenty of plaudits. The south coast side have been lucky enough to boast some significant talents in their defence, with Marc Cucurella and Dan Burn playing key roles during their stints on the south coast. However, there have been a number of occasions this season where Brighton’s defence has let them down in key moments. Last Saturday, it appeared this was the case once again. In the first half of the encounter, a long ball over the top by Ederson fell kindly to Erling Haaland, who was able to shrug past Adam Webster with ease before slotting home into an open net. The goal itself would set City on their way to victory, a frustrating factor for the visitors given that it was a goal that could have easily been prevented. Alongside this, Brighton supporters will be aware that this is not the first time this season whereby a defensive mishap has led to Brighton conceding. Just over three weeks ago, the Seagulls almost had their work undone when they surrendered a two-goal lead at Anfield courtesy of some calamitous defending. If Brighton are to challenge in the top half like they did last season, it is vital they cut out such mistakes.
Brighton STILL need a proven goalscorer
A few days before Brighton’s trip to the North- West, Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi commented on the contrast between the Seagulls and his former side Sassuolo, stating that “At Sassuolo, there were a lot of players who knew very well how to score. Here, it's different.” Whilst some Brighton supporters may have been offended by such comments, it appears as though the statement may have had some truth to it. Last Saturday, it appeared De Zerbi was proven right. Danny Welbeck went another game without scoring and was eventually taken off, whilst substitute Deniz Undav was unable to offer any impact whatsoever. Although Brighton did score on the day courtesy of a terrific strike from Trossard, Saturday appeared to tell the tale of Brighton’s season; the goals are only coming from out wide. If Brighton are going to fulfil De Zerbi’s attacking dream, this needs to change.
De Zerbi’s first win is getting closer
Whilst there were a small number of factors which let Brighton down last weekend, it must be acknowledged that the game itself wasn’t a humiliating one for Brighton. The Seagulls put in a spirited performance away to a side tipped to win it all this year, with a superb strike from Leandro Trossard putting supporters of the Citizens on edge for some time. As highlighted at Anfield earlier this month, Brighton are more than capable of holding their own against the so called ‘top six’ sides. Admittedly, De Zerbi is yet to win a game as Brighton manager, a factor which will understandably be a frustrating one for supporters of the south coast side. However, last weekend’s encounter at the Etihad provided plenty of reasons to believe that it will happen soon. Were it to happen in Brighton’s next game, with Graham Potter back in town, it would certainly make the wait worthwhile.