How Graham Potter’s high-flying Brighton outperforms some of the Premier League’s big guns
These are turbulent times for Brighton.
It may be early in the season, but it’s important to be above Manchester City after five games.
On Sunday, they defeated a strong Leicester team expected to compete for European places. It was the first time they defeated the Foxes in nine attempts, which is proof that they have made progress.
Brighton rises to fourth in the Premier League after beating Leicester at the weekend
Brighton fans will joke about their chances of still finishing fourth at the end of the season, but if their recent form is any indication it’s that they won’t be looking over their shoulders in May.
Graham Potter is highly sought after and has been ranked by Pep Guardiola as one of the best English managers for a reason and what he is doing at Brighton at the moment only reinforces that argument.
Under his leadership, there’s really no telling how far Brighton can go this season. Here, Sports post check out their brilliant start to the season and what changes they’ve made over the past period.
Brighton’s story has changed
Their start was hugely impressive, but the manner of their victories is perhaps even more encouraging.
The story of last season was that Brighton did not get the results their performances deserved.
The way Brighton played, you always felt they were doing themselves an injustice by being involved in the relegation mix.
Redknapp said every time he saw them play they were too good to go down but the results suggested otherwise and in the end they might have been a little lucky to be so comfortable.
Graham Potter’s side lost a lot of games they shouldn’t have in the past period, but now the results are crushing
But this term has changed slightly. Sometimes the results even exceeded their performance. Graham Potter would of course want his team to play well every game, but the priority must be results and Brighton seem much more capable of taking points if they may not be at their best this season compared to last season.
Phenomenal clean sheet record
A strong defensive track record is fundamental to any team that wants to be successful.
Brighton have already kept a clean sheet twice this season – in their wins over Brentford and Burnley. Potter seems to have prioritized keeping clean sheets and Brighton’s record this year speaks for itself.
In 2021, only Chelsea and Manchester City have recorded more shutouts than Brighton’s 11.
Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez helped Brighton set a stellar clean sheet record this year
It has given them a strong foundation to build on and will be a key factor for their future season.
Coping Without Ben White
When Brighton lost Ben White to Arsenal for £50m, their defenses were considerably weaker.
But the way Potter and his players have stepped up and adapted to life without White can only be commended. He was a big part of the Brighton team and how they wanted to play, building from the back.
Shane Duffy was so far out of the first team last season that he was loaned out to Celtic.
But the 29-year-old has come back and has been a revelation for them this season, forming a strong partnership with Lewis Dunk.
Brighton got on well without Ben White (L), with Shane Duffy (R) taking his place
Potter said last week that he never intended to sign a replacement for White because he knew Duffy could come in to do a job and he’s proved right.
More clinical for the purpose
Brighton have added a relentless touch to their game.
The Seagulls average fewer shots than last season and have a lower expected goal ratio, but still manage to find the back of the net on a regular basis.
Their average goals per game are currently 0.3 higher than last season, despite having fewer shots and shots. Neal Maupay has contributed immensely this season, scoring three goals in his five games to date.
For a team that analyzes statistics very carefully internally, these will be pleasing.
They also already have four wins to their name, taking them 21 games last season to rack up that many wins, eventually finishing with just nine of their 38 games.
All things right now suggest that they will be better than this term.
Neal Maupay has started promisingly, with three league goals in his first five games
The stats show Brighton scoring more goals, despite scoring fewer than last season
Ignoring the call to sign a new No 9
When White left the club for £50 million, many clamored for that money to reinvest in a striker.
Brighton was one of the lowest scorers in the Premier League last season, with Maupay their highest scorer at just eight.
The general consensus was that a new No 9 could take Brighton to the next level. But Potter is an old fashioned coach and has been blocking out the noise to focus on improving the player he already has at his disposal.
Potter ignored calls to sign a new striker and invested in Marc Cucurella (R) elsewhere
He has challenged Leandro Trossard to bring in more goals, while Alexis Mac Allister’s influence on the team in attacking areas continues to grow.
Rather than sign a striker, Brighton spent more than £30m strengthening the squad in other areas, with Zambia international midfielder Enock Mwepu and Spanish left-back Marc Cucurella.
Cucurella made it through Barcelona’s legendary La Masia academy and looks like a real gem after impressing on his debut. The fact that they were able to capture him when he was just months before he was linked with Chelsea and Tottenham is an indication of where the club is headed under Potter.