With pre-season schedules drawing to a close, a new league campaign awaits once more. Supporters of clubs up and down the country are beginning to make their way back to stadiums, many of whom will be armed with new chants or replica shirts ready to grace the stands. However, above all the early excitement and anticipation of a new season, supporters up and down the country will be hoping that their clubs can go one better than the previous league campaign, a dream which, for some clubs, may prove to be a difficult feat to achieve. Unfortunately for Brighton fans, it appears their club would be a strong example of this. The Seagulls finished in a record high position of ninth in the top flight last season, ending the campaign with a respectable 51 points. However, with the departure of midfield maestro Yves Bissouma, the south coast side face a tough test in trying to exceed their league finish of the previous season.
Despite Bissouma’s departure, it must be remembered that a ball is yet to be kicked in the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, and with that is plenty of time for Graham Potter’s Brighton to exceed expectations once again. But just how successful will Brighton’s league campaign prove to be, and who will be the men to lead them through it? Below are predictions on how Brighton will fare in the upcoming league campaign, alongside the expected key figures for the Seagulls in 2022/23.
Brighton to secure top ten finish- but only just
The Woodwork’s Prediction: 10th
Despite the departure of Yves Bissouma, Brighton are not expected to finish too far away from their record high finish of the previous campaign. The Seagulls are still able to boast great midfield talent in the form of Enock Mwepu and Moisés Caicedo, meaning that the departure of Bissouma will not entirely disarm Brighton’s midfield. Alongside this, the south coast club have welcomed back several players from loan deals, including a promising forward in the form of Denis Undav. Unfortunately for the Seagulls though, only one of Brighton’s two new signings has avoided being sent out on loan, with 18-year-old Paraguayan forward Julio Enciso signing a four-year deal in June. Therefore, given Brighton’s severely small number of new signings, it appears that the Seagulls will just miss out on replicating their 9th placed finish of the last league campaign, instead earning themselves a respectable spot in 10th.
Marc Cucurella to shine- if he stays
Amidst the constant rumours flying around in recent weeks regarding Manchester City’s interest in Marc Cucurella, it is easy to forget that the Spanish international is still a Brighton player. Thankfully for Brighton fans though, the club’s recent resistance to allowing Cucurella to depart means that there is still a strong possibility Marc Cucurella will be a Brighton player next season. If this is the case, the Seagulls could be in for a super season. The 23-year-old left back played a key role in Brighton’s top half push last season, finishing the season with a total of 1,901 passes, whilst averaging just over 54 passes per match. Impressively, Cucurella was able to outperform departed midfielder Yves Bissouma last season, with Bissouma only able to achieve 1,187 passes and a rate of just over 45 passes per match in the previous league campaign. With statistics such as these, it is expected that the young left back will only continue to shine. As for his current club, it would appear their best chance of achieving another top half finish would be to continue resisting the push of Pep Guardiola and keep hold of Cucurella for another season.
Enock Mwepu to be Brighton’s midfield maestro
With the departure of Yves Bissouma to Tottenham, Brighton supporters are likely to be feeling as though their midfield has taken a hampering. However, as mentioned earlier, Brighton are still able to boast great talent in midfield. Among their ranks for the upcoming campaign is Zambian midfielder Enock Mwepu, who, similar to Cucurella, will be looking to build on his successful debut season for the seagulls. The 24-year-old enjoyed a strong campaign last time out, finishing the 2021/22 season with a combined total of 6 goals and assists in 18 league appearances. Similar to Cucurella once again, Mwepu was able to outperform the departed Yves Bissouma in the previous league campaign, with Mwepu’s combined total of 6 goals and assists eclipsing Bissouma’s combined total of three, despite Bissouma playing eight more matches than Mwepu. Therefore, with the departure of Bissouma, it is expected that the upcoming campaign will see Mwepu register himself as the main man in midfield, a crucial factor if Brighton’s midfield is to earn the same plaudits as it did last season.
Denis Undav to be ferocious up front
Despite Brighton’s difficulty up front in previous seasons, there is good reason for supporters of the Seagulls to be hopeful going into the new season. As mentioned earlier, Brighton have welcomed back a handful of players from loan deals, however none of them bare as much significance as the return of Denis Undav. The Turkish forward initially signed on for the Seagulls in January, however the club opted to send him back to his parent club at the time, allowing him to complete the second half of the season on loan. Whilst at his parent club, Union Saint-Gilloise, Undav was able to pick up plenty of plaudits. The 26-year-old forward finished the 2021-22 campaign with an impressive 27 goals and 13 assists in 41 appearances, earning himself the Jupiler Pro League player of the season award for his efforts. With the addition of Undav, Brighton supporters can be hopeful of a well needed improvement with regards to the seagulls starting striker. In the previous league campaign, Brighton ranked 15th out of 20 in goals scored having only hit the back of the net 42 times, a worrying statistic if the Seagulls are to surpass the success of last season’s 9th placed finish. However, with the arrival of Undav, there is every reason to believe that Brighton will have a change of fortune. The Seagulls have been crying out for a proven goal scorer for some time; now that they have one, there could be a great headache for Graham Potter in deciding his starting striker.