Opening their 2019/20 English Premier League campaign with two consecutive defeats, Southampton have experienced what can only be described as a tough start. However, the Saints now have a chance to change their fortunes this weekend. Travelling down the coast, Southampton are set to take on Premier League and South Coast rivals Brighton and Hove Albion.
Not quite a South Coast Derby, this is a match that does mean a lot to both sides. Southampton are in desperate need of a result following losses in their opening two matches. Meanwhile, relegation favourites Brighton are off to an incredibly strong start. Can the Seagulls keep their impressive form going for another week or is it the Saints’ time to shine on the South Coast?
Brighton & Hove Albion v Southampton: The South Coast Faceoff
Winless Saints Show Improvement Against Liverpool
Talk about a rough start to their 2019/20 campaign. Playing just two matches in the league so far this season, Southampton have managed to lose both. However, those losses come for far different reasons. Against Burnley, Southampton were truly dire. Whether it be a lack of ability in the attack or multiple errors in defence, the Saints were truly deserving of the 3-0 shellacking they took at Turf Moor.
Following a week of incredibly focused and hard training from manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, Southampton showed some incredible improvement against Premier League giants Liverpool. Playing on the front foot, the Saints generated a number of chances and played quite well for 75% of the match. Unfortunately, multiple errors and defensive mistakes in that other 25% saw the Saints eventually fall to a 2-1 defeat.
Again though, the overall performance cannot be understated when comparing week-to-week. With Hasenhuttl clearly getting his point across last week, many expect Southampton to perform quite well this weekend against their South Coast rivals. The only question remaining here is about which Saints team will show up at the AMEX Stadium? The improved side that hosted Liverpool or the dire one that was thrashed at Turf Moor by Burnley?
Relegation Favorites Brighton off to Strong Start
Entering the 2019/20 Premier League season, Brighton was seen by many as an early favourite for relegation. Finishing in the 17th position last season, the Seagulls just managed to survive the relegation dogfight. Following this finish, changes were made apparent when the club sacked longtime manager Chris Hughton at the end of the season.
Hiring former Swansea City manager Graham Potter this past May, Brighton embarked on a summer mission to reinvigorate their squad. Adding seven new faces to their first-team squad, one could say that Brighton did just that. Whether it was the addition of new players or the change of managers, these changes have so far made a difference for Brighton.
Earning a 3-0 win on the opening day at Watford, Brighton then managed to fight back and grab a point last week against West Ham United. Sitting on four points from two matches, the Seagulls look to stretching their legs early in the campaign. Playing extremely well thus far, Brighton have a golden opportunity to earn another three points this weekend when they host Southampton.
The Future is Now for Southampton’s Che Adams
Retooling their attack this summer, Southampton made a good move to sign young forward Che Adams. Moving up from the English Championship, Adams was expected to have a slow start to his life in the Premier League. Despite having zero goals to his name through two matches, Che Adams has already proven the above statement false.
Putting himself in great positions, Adams has generated a number of goal scoring opportunities. While he has failed to convert thus far, Adams is an ever-improving player. Already getting into good positions, Adams time is coming on the South Coast. In fact, one would say that against Brighton, the future could be now for both Southampton and Che Adams.
However, Che Adams is not the only Saints new boy with a bright future. Making his Premier League debut last Saturday against Liverpool, Moussa Djenepo turned in an extremely impactful 13 minutes. An immediate asset on the pitch, Djenepo showed off his pace and control along the left-wing side. Helping Southampton generate a number of attacks over the final minutes, Djenepo has already generated comparisons to former Southampton great Sadio Mane. Not too shabby for just a quarter of an hour.
Brighton New Boy Neal Maupay Key to Seagulls Attack
Making some big splashes in the transfer market this summer, Brighton’s most important addition may have been Neal Maupay. Signed for a reported £20 million from Championship side Brentford, Maupay made an instant impact for Seagulls. Finding the back of the net in Brighton’s first match at Watford, Maupay showed that he has come to play.
Coming on as a sub in his first two matches for Brighton, Maupay has shown the talent and ability that made the Seagulls sign him this summer. Because of this, one has to assume that it won’t be too long before the striker joins the starting 11. In fact, it’s not unlikely that Maupay could in fact, earn his first start in this very match.
Also playing an important role in this match for the Seagulls will be defenders Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk. Forming an impressive centre-back partnership, Duffy and Dunk will need to keep their eyes on this young Saints attack. With Southampton possessing incredibly gifted attacking players, even just one mistake could prove costly. If Brighton are to be victorious, it will be because of this centre-back duo.
As stated earlier, this is not quite a South Coast Derby. However, this edition of Brighton vs Southampton is an incredibly important South Coast faceoff. Southampton desperately need to earn at least a point from this match. That said, their trip to the Amex Stadium coincides with a strong start to the campaign for Brighton. The Saints will need their best performance yet if they want to take anything from this match.
Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Southampton