• Albion's Defensive Solidity Will Be Key to Avoiding Second Season Syndrome

    Brighton finished the 2017-18 Premier League season in a respectable 15th position with Chris Hughton's side securing their place in the top flight with games to spare. The Seagulls enjoyed a solid first campaign in the top tier and it was our defensive record that helped us to avoid the dreaded drop. Albion will need to continue to be well-organised and defensively disciplined this year as we aim to avoid undoing all of that hard work.

    A quick glance at last year's Premier League table will gives a clear indication of Brighton's approach to our debut top-flight season. The Seagulls scored just 34 times in 38 games with only Huddersfield and relegated duo Swansea and West Brom netting fewer times than Hughton's men. However, just 54 goals were conceded in that time, which was fewer than each of the four teams directly above Albion in the table and also less than both Everton and Leicester City, who finished eight and ninth, respectively.

    Shane Duffy was at the heart of the Seagulls defence with the centre-back completing 59 blocks throughout the campaign and an astounding 237 headed clearances, which was over 75 more than any other player in the Premier League. Along with Lewis Dunk, Duffy formed a formidable partnership and Albion's central defensive options have since been further strengthened by the arrival of Leon Balogun who featured prominently at the World Cup for Nigeria.

    Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan, who was also present in Russia this Summer, played every single minute of Brighton's Premier League campaign and made a string of top-class saves to maintain parity. The stopper admitted he was proud of his side's defensive prowess.


    Source: Mirror Football via Twitter

    Albion begin their 2018-19 Premier League season with a trip to Vicarage Road to take on Watford. Hughton's men kept clean sheets against the Hornets in both meetings last season, drawing 0-0 in Hertfordshire and picking up a precious 1-0 win at the Amex at the beginning of 2018.

    The Seagulls have been priced up as outsiders at 47/20 and those who are looking to add some excitement to the game can find the odds of Brighton to win to nil at 7/2. Some may even opt to back the 9/4 on offer for the Seagulls to keep a third consecutive clean sheet against this opposition.

    This opening game will be followed by much tougher assignments against Liverpool and Manchester United. Brighton kept a clean sheet against the Red Devils last season, beating Jose Mourinho's side 1-0 at the Amex on May 4th and Chris Hughton will be hoping to cause a similar upset once again.

    Chris Hughton's side have been built from the back and they are extremely tough to break down. Albion's boss will want his side to continue where they left off, and make themselves difficult to penetrate. It took champions Manchester City seventy minutes to unlock Albion's defence on the opening day of last season and there will be hope of being able to frustrate the bigger sides once again.

    The addition of former Mainz defender Balogun will add some much-needed competition for places and he will be seen as a replacement for Connor Goldson who has departed the Amex for Rangers this Summer. If Albion can add a little more firepower to their squad, there is every chance that Chris Hughton will steer the club to top flight survival once again. However, it is clear that we must retain a resolute rearguard if they to avoid returning to the Championship.

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