• Why The New Spine Of Brighton’s Side Could See The Seagulls Into The Top Ten

    Brighton and Hove Albion ended their 2018/19 campaign with a 4-1 loss at home to Manchester City on the final day of the season, leaving them on 36 points and manager Chris Hughton without a job. It had been a serious regression from a debut season in the Premier League that had shown real signs of being a good platform to build from. Transfers had flopped, squad morale was through the floor, the attitude and style of football was negative and a particularly poor record against the teams around them indicated the Seagulls were more than a tad fortunate to remain a top-flight side.

    Fast forward to the end of the following season and Brighton had implemented a far more vibrant, astute and modern way of playing, their transfers had all been noticeably more successful and there was even time for the emergence of talismanic young individuals such as Aaron Connolly to help round off Albion’s most successful season in recent memory.

    With manager Graham Potter continuing to rejuvenate his squad with fresh promising talent, a new spine of players has emerged on the south coast that could see Brighton soar up the football betting markets when the 2020/21 season kicks off. With Aaron Connolly leading the line, and Shane Duffy, Glenn Murray and Aaron Mooy all departing the club in the summer window, here’s what the next phase of Potter’s spine could look like.

    Defence – Ben White

    One of the undeniable greats of last season’s Championship campaign for Leeds United, Ben White looks every inch a superstar in the making. Having seen off competition from Bielsa’s side for his signature, Albion tied White down to a new four-year contract earlier this month, effectively securing his services for the foreseeable future.

    White is steady, athletic and has already demonstrated having a level of maturity to his game unlike most his age. Most importantly for Graham Potter, his best attribute is easily his ability on the ball however. An absolute staple for the modern defender, the ability to play the ball to touch and across the ground was what saw the Seagulls swoop in with a record bid for Adam Webster in the summer, and what ultimately sealed the fate of Shane Duffy.

    Centre Midfield – Jayson Molumby

    Like White, Jayson Molumby spent all of the 2019/20 campaign on loan in the Championship playing for Millwall. His energy and work rate was exceptional, and his engine-like attitude off the ball particularly won him plenty of plaudits at the Den. The Irish youngster was on the radar at the Amex as early as the club’s debut season in the Premier League, making the bench for the side’s historic 0-3 win at the London Stadium in 2017, but chances in the top flight were few and far between under Chris Hughton.

    That looks set to change with Molumby getting plenty of minutes in Albion’s latest warm up fixture against Chelsea earlier this month, and the midfielder is still a member of Brighton’s squad at the time of writing.

    Attacking Midfield – Steven Alzate

    We’ve put attacking midfield, but it seems like Steven Alzate is a man who can play anywhere on the pitch after his breakthrough campaign last year. The young Colombian talisman has been deployed seemingly everywhere from left wing back to the number ten under Potter, showcasing his plethora of skills, and whilst he was most commonly found as a full back we still think his best attributes lend him most fittingly as an attacking midfielder.

    Calm, composed, agile and beautifully balanced on the ball, the only thing perhaps missing from Alzate’s game at the moment is a bit more of an end product. That naturally comes with experience and exposure to the game, however Alzate’s 1.07 key passes per ninety for the campaign was still comfortably ahead of the likes of Davy Propper (0.92), Dale Stephens (0.63), Yves Bissouma (0.27) and Neal Maupay (0.81).

    Forward – Aaron Connolly

    Blessed with blistering pace and a bullish amount of power, Aaron Connolly has all the traits needed to become one of the most dangerous forwards in the Premier League. Having banged in the goals for the Albion youth ranks, the Irish forward broke onto the scene with a brace against Mauricio Pochettino’s hapless Spurs side back in October.

    The goals didn’t exactly flow following that performance, but Connolly’s performances were generally solid throughout the season. His work rate is unquestionable, running down the channels, splitting defenders and causing a nuisance, and his link up with fellow striker Neal Maupay has undoubtedly led to the Frenchman looking far sharper than when Connolly isn’t in the side.

    His goal on the final day of the season against Burnley was a strong reminder of the qualities the young Irishman possesses however, bursting through the defence, outmuscling the onrushing centre back before coolly slotting the ball into the net.

    There’s no doubt a brilliant player on the cards for Brighton if they can unlock more of those moments of magic.

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