Connect in the back of the net

Manager: Chris Hughton
Squad value: £53 million
Key players: Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, Lewis Dunk

20 years ago, Brighton were on the verge of playing non-league football. On August 12, 2017, Brighton will be hosting Manchester City at Amex Stadium to kick off their 2017-18 Premier League campaign.

That’s how crazy English football is.

Last season in the Championship, Brighton & Hove Albion were one win away from winning the title.

After only managing a disappointing point from their final three games, they watched the Magpies in the north lift silverware and celebrate. It was a blunder end to a superb season.

On the bright side, pun intended, second place was still good enough for an automatic promotion to the Premier League, which was a relief for the club after finishing just short of that mark for three consecutive seasons.


Promotion was no fluke

It must be said, their second place finish last season was no fluke. They attacked with a free flowing style, lead by Glenn Murray’s 23 goals, but also keep the opposition out of the net—conceded only 40 goals in 46 matches.

Other key performers from last season such as Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, club captain Bruno, and Lewis Dunk will need to replicate, if not, elevate their game for the season ahead.

Many questions arise on how they will set up against tougher, stronger, and more creative teams.

After being named to the PFA Championship Team of the Year for his 20 clean sheets, David Stockdale rejected a new contract and signed a three year deal with Birmingham City. That was about it when it came to summer transfer losses.


Frustrating summer, but good players were acquired

Brighton were frustrated, but did not panic when it came to this year’s summer transfer window.

Owed by England’s elite, many young intriguing players were put on the market for loan moves. Brighton somehow missed out on their signatures.

They remained calm and brought in solid senior players, as well as young players for the future. Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, ex-Austrian left-back Markus Suttner, and German number 10 Pascal Gross will have plenty of opportunities to shine at Brighton and will relish playing in the Premier League.

On loan from Chelsea, Izzy Brown adds some color and creativity going forward.

If Brighton are successful, these players will have to contribute in more ways than one—especially goalkeeper Matthew Ryan.


Difficult challenge

Chris Hughton will have a very difficult challenge this upcoming season. They are a tiny club, but understand what to do to succeed—or to survive.

Although they open up against title favorites Manchester City, their following five games could be key to how their season unfolds.

They have a solid backbone and brought in reinforcements. Will it be enough to stay outside of the drop?


Written by Steven Jotterand

Follow Steven on Twitter @StevenJotterand

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