How Graham Potter’s high-flying Brighton are outperforming some of the Premier League’s big guns: Coping without Ben White, ignoring the clamour to sign a new No 9 and showing ruthlessness in front of goal
- Brighton are currently fourth in the Premier League, above Manchester City
- Graham Potter’s men have won five of their six opening games of the season
- They’ve made progress after struggling to get results they deserved last term
- Brighton have improved in front of goal and are coping fine without Ben White
These are heady times for Brighton.
It may be early days in the season, but there’s some significance to sitting above Manchester City after five games.
On Sunday, they defeated a strong Leicester side expected to compete for European places. It was the first time they’ve beaten the Foxes in nine attempts, which is evidence that they’ve made strides forward.
Brighton are up to fourth in the Premier League after beating Leicester at the weekend
Brighton fans will joke about their chances of still being in fourth come the end of the season, but if their recent form is an indication of anything it is that they won’t be looking over their shoulders come May.
Graham Potter is highly sought after and ranked by Pep Guardiola as one of the best English managers around for a reason and what he is doing at Brighton at the minute only strengthens that argument.
Under his leadership, there really is no telling how far Brighton can go this season. Here, Sportsmail take a closer look at their brilliant start to the season and what changes they’ve made to last term.
Their start has been hugely impressive but the manner of their victories is perhaps even more encouraging.
The narrative last season was that Brighton weren’t getting the results their performances deserved.
The way Brighton played, you always felt they were doing themselves an injustice by being involved in the relegation mix.
Redknapp said every time he watched them play that they were too good to go down, but results suggested otherwise and in the end they were perhaps a tad fortunate to have so comfortable.
Graham Potter’s side lost many games they shouldn’t have last term but now grind out results
But this term, something has changed. At times, the results have actually exceeded their performances. Graham Potter would obviously like his team to play well every match, but the priority has got to be results and Brighton look much more capable of picking up points when they’re maybe not at their best this season in comparison to last.
Phenomenal clean sheet record
A strong defensive record is fundamental for any team who wants to be successful.
Brighton have already kept two clean sheets this season – in their victories away at Brentford and Burnley. Potter seems to have put a precedence on keeping clean sheets and Brighton’s record this year speaks for itself.
In 2021, only Chelsea and Manchester City have registered mores shutouts than Brighton’s 11.
Keeper Robert Sanchez has helped Brighton establish a great clean sheet record this year
It has given them a strong foundation to build off and will be a key factor to their season going forward.
Coping without Ben White
When Brighton lost Ben White to Arsenal for £50m, it left their defence significantly weaker.
But the way Potter and his players have stepped up and adapted to life without White can only be commended. He was a huge part of the Brighton team and how they wanted to play, building out from the back.
Shane Duffy was so far out of the first-team picture last season he was shipped out on loan to Celtic.
But the 29-year-old has come back and been a revelation for them this season, forming a strong partnership with Lewis Dunk.
Brighton have coped well without Ben White (L), with Shane Duffy (R) stepping up in his place
Potter said last week he was never planning on signing a replacement for White because he knew Duffy could come in and do a job and he is being proven right.
More clinical in front of goal
Brighton have added a ruthless touch to their game.
The Seagulls are actually averaging fewer shots than last season and have a lower expected goals ratio, but are still managing to find the back of the net with regularity.
Their average goals per game is currently up 0.3 on last season despite them crossing and shooting less. Neal Maupay has been a huge contributing factor, scoring three goals in his five games so far this term.
For a team who internally analyse statistics very carefully, these will be pleasing.
They already have four wins to their name as well, which took them 21 games last season to reach that many victories, eventually finishing with just nine from their 38 games.
All things right now suggest they’ll better that tally this term.
Neal Maupay has got off to an auspicious start, with three league goals in his first five games
The stats show Brighton are scoring more goals despite actually creating less than last season
Ignoring clamour to sign a new No 9
When White left the club for £50m, many were crying out for that money to be reinvested in a striker.
Brighton were one of the lowest scorers in the Premier League last season, with Maupay their highest scorer with just eight.
The general consensus was that a new No 9 could help take Brighton to the next level. But Potter is an old-fashioned coach and blocked out the noise to focus on improving the player that he already has at his disposal.
Potter ignored calls to sign a new striker and invested elsewhere in likes of Marc Cucurella (R)
He has challenged Leandro Trossard to bring more to the table in terms of goals, while Alexis Mac Allister’s influence on the team in attacking areas has been growing.
Instead of signing a forward, Brighton spent in excess of £30m on bolstering the squad in other areas, with Zambia international midfielder Enock Mwepu and Spanish left-back Marc Cucurella joining.
Cucurella came through Barcelona’s fabled La Masia academy and looks a real gem after impressing on his debut. The fact they were able to sign him when only months before he was linked with the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham is an indication of where the club is moving under Potter.
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