The 2021/22 campaign will mark Brighton and Hove Albion’s fifth consecutive season in the Premier League since their promotion in 2017, marking their longest run at the top flight in English football in the club’s history. The 2020/21 season saw the club finish in 16th with the worst xG (Expected Goals) to conversion of any club in Europe, however it also saw a plethora of memorable results and encouraging performances.
For the first time since their promotion to the Premier League, Brighton and Hove Albion are not amongst the favourites tipped for relegation, however the club’s ambitions extend much further than merely finishing a handful of places outside the drop zone. Here’s exactly why Brighton could surprise everyone during the 2021/22 season.
Faces for the future
Brighton and Hove Albion might have finished their last campaign in 16th position, but there’s no denying that their performances over the course of the season were far more impressive than their league standings suggested. Graham Potter’s side managed wins over the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City, did the double over Leeds and Newcastle United, and played a unique brand of football rarely seen outside of the traditional top six.
Potter has introduced a wide range of far-reaching and ambitious tactical profiles that the side implemented beautifully at stadiums like Anfield and Old Trafford, and the revolving door or prodigy talents continued on throughout the 2020/21 campaign with the emergence of figures such as Ben White, Tariq Lamptey, Andi Zeqiri and Jakub Moder.
Ever since the appointment of Dan Ashwroth and Graham Potter in 2019, the club have made a point of making the pathway from academy to first team far more accessible than before, and the signs are already on the horizon that 2021/22 could bring with it a new crop of talents that could help take the team to the next level. Twenty year old midfielder Taylor Richards signed from Manchester City in 2019 and, having spent the entirety of the 2020/21 season out on loan at Doncaster Rovers, has already made his Premier League debut this campaign, and the likes of Haydon Roberts, Marc Leonard and former Borussia Dortmund prodigy Reda Khadra could all follow in his footsteps as the season progresses.
Even the recent additions of twenty-three year olds Barcelona graduate Marc Cucurella from Getafe and Enock Mwepu represents a shift in approach towards younger players with potential to flourish in the Premier League.
Plenty of pedigree
The shift from the pragmatism and safety of Chris Hughton to a more expansive, possession-based approach with Graham Potter was not only designed to help lift Brighton and Hove Albion up the ranks and football betting odds, but entirely raise the pedigree of the club in the eyes of the footballing world.
The reputation of players plying their trade with Brighton has gone through the roof under Graham Potter, with the club sending more and more players on international duty than ever before, and seeing the stock value of players such as Ben White, Yves Bissouma, Adam Webster and Leandro Trossard soar.
Brighton sent an impressive five players to Euro 2020 this summer (White, Trossard, Moder, Robert Sanchez and Joel Veltman), and the likes of Zeqiri, Shane Duffy, Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate are all regular international players now under Potter. The side have beaten Arsenal and Tottenham twice, Liverpool and Manchester City all within the last two years, and have been able to earn plaudits from everyone ranging from Gary Linkear to Pep Guardiola.
Brighton are quickly becoming one of the rising forces in the Premier League, with shrewd management from the top, strong organisation and a clear direction from the entire club pyramid, a highly thought of manager and playing squad, and a distinct style of play in which to work around. If they can amend some of their striking issues from last season, there’s no telling just how high up the table the Seagulls could finish this season.