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Brighton & Hove Albion have had a difficult initiation to life in the Premier League. Chris Hughton’s side returned to the English top-flight after a 34-year long wait, but things have hardly gone according to plans for them.
Following their two 2-0 losses to Manchester City and Leicester City and a goalless draw against Watford FC, things have slightly taken a turn after a stunning 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion earlier in the day.
If they are to maintain their Premier League status for the coming season, the Seagulls will need to salvage their faltering campaign and look to get back on the right track at the earliest possible. It’s not like Hughton has a bang average squad at his disposal, given the number of impressively talented players at his disposal. It is high time some of his star players pull up their socks and start performing. Here we pick three Brighton players who haven’t started the season strongly and need to step up in the coming weeks.
One of the best players in the Championship last season, the Frenchman’s start to the new campaign in the top-flight was hampered by an injury in the pre-season. Due to the injury, the 25-year old hasn’t been able to get into his full flow.
Knockaert had a sensational campaign last season, which ended with him getting 15 goals and 9 assists in 45 Championship outings. However, this term, in the 5 appearances that he has made in all competitions, the Frenchman hasn’t managed a single goal or assist. Agreed, he has had just 3 starts and the injury hasn’t helped his cause. But he is someone who the Seagulls rely upon in their attacking third and the sooner he gets firing on all cylinders, the better for Brighton’s hopes of surviving the drop.
Goals have been the major issue for Brighton so far this season. They scored 3 earlier in the day but before that, it was an issue, as they did not score a single goal despite having enjoyed more than 50% share of possession in two of their previous three league outings before the West Brom game (52% against Leicester, 53% against Watford).
With last season’s top scorer Glenn Murray coming into the season with an injury, Hughton called upon Tomer Hemed to lead the line, but the Israeli striker did not have the best of times in front of goal until today. The 30-year old was without a goal and had just 4 goal attempts in his previous three league outings before today, and did not have a single key pass either.
While the lack of service was a factor, given Brighton created just 17 chances before today (which was the third lowest in the league), Hemed needs to take his game to another level and start grabbing whatever chances come his way, just like he did today.
The German arrived this summer from FC Ingolstadt and has started all the four Premier League games, in behind the main striker, but had little effect on his team’s attacking prowess until the West Brom game.
Gross, before scoring 2 and assisting one goal today, attempted a single shot at goal and played just 3 key passes only. Those are not the numbers the manager would have wanted to see from his secondary striker by any means.
Moreover, he often lost possession in the attacking third, which is another thing that needs to be addressed. So, it is not really a surprise that the Seagulls struggled before opening their goal account for the season, considering that the player who was supposed to be their creative outlet, was struggling to impact the proceedings. The whole argument is justified as Brighton depend a lot on Gross and Hemed.
If the duo get going, Brighton can get going and survive the drop. Hughton will be hoping that his team puts in more impressive performances this season, just like they did today against the Baggies.