TWO WINS FROM TWO: Can Potter's Seagulls Soar This Season?
When the first couple of games have been done and dusted, it is often a strange Premier League table to cast an eye over - the big competition still only in its infancy. West Ham top with Brentford 8th is enough to raise some eyebrows, but Brighton occupying a Champions League spot after the opening two matches is an intriguing one. Constantly overperforming, the Seagulls traditionally a lower league side in nature, can Brighton this season dare to dream under Graham Potter? Last season, they won plaudits for performances but not points. With 6 points from 6 this campaign, are they turning over a new leaf?
The two performances to kick-start Brighton’s season showcases the intent of The Seagulls - not here to merely make up the numbers and be dragged into another relegation battle.
Under Graham Potter, Brighton have become an exciting team to watch but a naïve one arguably in maintaining points alongside performances. Going to Turf Moor on the opening day, a notoriously hard place to go and play your football, and secure 3 points from behind is a massive sign that the Seagulls want to break away from their label as a side that play well but inevitably fall short. Moving away from the cloud of Expected Goals hanging over them, substitute Alexis Mac Allister ensured 3 points would come back home to The Amex.
The home performance against Watford, for me, also signalled more intent from The Seagulls - beating a newly promoted side, off the back of a confidence boosting opening day, with conviction. After netting Brighton’s first on the road versus Burnley, Maupay was 2 for 2 after this clash. Closing down a short kick out from the travelling Hornets, the ball found its way to the ex-Brentford striker who finished past Bachmann with confidence. Maupay might’ve come off injured at the half way mark in the match, but Maupay consistently scoring will be crucial to Brighton aiming for a mid-table finish or higher.
Only scoring 8 last season, 2 from 2 will hopefully unlock the Frenchman’s ability to score 20 plus like he managed with now Premier League Brentford a few seasons back. Away from goal-scoring, Bissouma is a huge part of how Brighton play under Graham Potter. Watching highlights from the match at The Amex, his midfield presence was vital in ensuring Brighton strolled to 3 points at home. Running at full pelt from a short play out from the away side, an intervening leg served it up on a plate for Maupay to score. All match, Bissouma broke up attempts from the visitors to mount an attack and allowed Brighton a platform to push forward all evening. Linked with a move away, Bissouma’s jubilant demeanour at the final whistle indicates he’ll be sticking around in Brighton blue and white for a little longer. With Pascal Gross, Adam Webster and Adam Lallana other components of the Brighton makeup, it’s an extremely talented squad at Graham Potter’s disposal.
Brighton consistently performing above expectation will suit Graham Potter down to a tee, his successes in management to this date working with an underdog. Taking Ostersund up to the Swedish top flight and eventually getting them to the Europa League - beating Arsenal at The Emirates in the competition a memorable upset - a lot is mirrored in Brighton’s success story. Catapulted to the Premier League off two speedy promotions, winning League One before sealing promotion to the top flight after a couple of failed attempts, Brighton have punched well above their weight.
Nearly going out of the business in the mid 90’s, having to play their football at The Withdean more known for its running track, Brighton’s arrival into The Amex signalled better times for Albion. Staving off relegation every year since arriving into the Premier League, the time does feel right for the team in the South Coast to push on and challenge in the higher reaches of the division. With Potter’s capabilities in Sweden to unsettle the status quo, and with two wins from two this season, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Brighton to finish in the top half and beyond.
Brighton’s label as an inviting and unique city feels the perfect backdrop for the football side, winning outside praise for being likable to the neutral. Remove past naivety and relegation battles from the equation, this season could well be time for Graham Potter’s Seagulls to soar to new heights.