Before the last Premier League season, many considered Brighton favourites for the drop. However, the Seagulls proved their doubters wrong by maintaining a fairly safe distance from the relegation zone throughout the entire campaign. Can Chris Hughton’s men do it again? Here is your 2018/2019 Brighton & Hove Albion Season Preview.
Brighton & Hove Albion Season Preview
Last Time Out
Brighton finished 15th in the league, maintaining a similar position throughout the season. They dropped into the drop zone only once during the campaign, following consecutive 2-0 defeats to Manchester City and Leicester City in the first two matchdays.
Chris Hughton had his side drilled to perfection and were therefore very difficult to break down. Brighton conceded just 54 goals, the ninth-fewest in the division, leading to 13 draws, joint second-most in the Premier League.
The team also made it to the FA Cup quarter-final, losing to eventual finalists Manchester United. Safe to say, the Seagulls had a season to remember.
Player to Watch
Among the reasons for Brighton’s survival was veteran striker Glenn Murray’s 12 league goals. Whenever his side needed a goal, the Englishman seemed to pop up, such as with his winner against Arsenal.
However, at 34-years-old and six months after being arrested for tax fraud, Murray’s contributions may begin to decline. So, Brighton have purchased a new attacker from Deportivo La Coruña; Florin Andone.
The Romanian international netted 12 goals in his first season with the Spanish club, but only scored eight this past campaign as his team were relegated. Being that Brighton will focus on defence first, the 25-year-old will carry the brunt of the attacking burden.
He will have to develop a strong relationship with Pascal Gross early on, as the German is the side’s main playmaker. It will be down to Gross to link play between midfield and attack.
So, much of the Seagull’s success this season will be down to how quickly Andone can adapt to the Premier League, as well as his teammates.
The Manager – Chris Hughton
Chris Hughton rarely gets the praise he deserves. As the finishes he has guided his clubs to are not overly-impressive, Hughton is generally thought of as survivor, much in the same vein as Tony Pulis.
However, the manager seems to always find some measure of success no matter where he finds himself. This past season was a perfect example.
As mentioned earlier, Brighton only once found themselves in the relegation zone, after matchday two. Despite a relative dearth of attacking talent, his side also got the goals they needed, when they needed them. This is in addition to boasting a slightly better than average defence.
The Seagulls will need a similar display this time around from Chris Hughton. While other clubs will be favourites for the drop, Brighton cannot afford to think they are safe. The steely discipline the Essex native brings will either make or break the season.
Compared to last season, Brighton’s squad is both more talented and deeper. Therefore, they are less likely to face the drop this time around.
While fans should be confident ahead of the new Premier League season, they should also temper their expectations. The additions of Andone, left-back Bernardo and centre-back Leon Balogun add quality in vital areas. However, the squad will still have to rely on the whole being greater than the sum of their parts.
Expect a marginal gain on the 40 points from last season, and therefore another year of top-flight football from the Seagulls.
Predicted Finish: 13th
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