Brighton & Hove Albion Season Preview | Premier League Analysis & Betting Pick
Steve Bardens/Getty. Pictured: Danny Welbeck.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. Here is our take on Brighton & Hove Albion.
Premier League Season Preview – Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton had their best season in the club's history last year, achieving a sixth-place finish and a spot in the Europa League. Things started out great for the Seagulls and then Graham Potter left to take the Chelsea job. It seemed like things were going to go off the rails for Brighton, but then Roberto De Zerbi came in and took Brighton to a new level. Now, the Seagulls are being talked about on the same level and even better than some of the "Big Six" clubs.
De Zerbi has turned Brighton into an offensive force. Since he took over on October 1st last year, Brighton averaged 2.04 xG per 90 minutes, which was the fourth-most in the Premier League during that time.
His style of play is uber-aggressive. De Zerbi demands Brighton play out of the back and when they do, they bait their opponent into pressing them high, creating space in the middle. It's usually a 4-2-4 build up structure with the two midfielders playing very deep and the four attackers pressing up very high, which creates a ton of space once they beat the first line of the press.
Then, Brighton can create a “transition” opportunity out of the build up phase and attacking opposing defenses when their first two lines have already been pushed too high. Brighton are top four in the Premier League in shots per 90 minutes, box entries, final third entries and progressive passes + dribbles. This is one of the best offenses in England and they're also a good defensive team, allowing 1.22 npxG per 90 minutes under De Zerbi.
Brighton counter-press just as well as some of the elites in the Premier League, allowing them to sustain 90 minutes of pressure. They ended up with the best PPDA in the Premier League last season and forced the sixth-most high turnovers.
What typically happens with teams like Brighton is they get raided by the bigger clubs for all of their best players. So far for the Seagulls that has not been the case. Alexis Mac Allister has been the only significant player to leave and Brighton have made a move to replace him, bringing in Mahmoud Dahoud from Dortmund. Plus, towards the end of last season, Billy Gilmour was playing so well in the number eight role when Caicedo got hurt that De Zerbi moved Caicedo to right back because he wanted to play Mac Allister and Gilmour as a double pivot.
Levi Colwill is a big loss at the left center back position, but Brighton replaced him with Igor from Fiorentina who fits the similar profile of a press-resistant ball-carrying center back so De Zerbi can continue to play his system.
Brighton have loads of young attackers that are going to give opposing defenses fits. An exciting young talent Joao Pedro came over from Watford after 11 goals in the Championship last season to add to the plethora of Julio Enciso, Evan Ferguson, Karou Mitoma and Solly March.
There is still a lot up in the air for Brighton in the transfer market with Caicedo. Chelsea could panic after a few bad results and pay the $100 million Brighton are asking for, but for Caicedo there is really no downside to staying for one more year and Brighton have been very clear that they are not selling him for less than $100 million.
For the Seagulls to be at a price of +175 is a bit laughable when they were clear and away the fourth-best team in the Premier League last season in terms of almost every single underlying metric.
Pick: Brighton to finish in the top six (+175 via Caesars)