Brighton Still Well Equipped for Top Two Finish

C7Ogg1WW4AA54ce
image courtesy of http://www.seagulls.co.uk

 

Brighton are still well equipped for a top two finish after spending four days recuperating in the province of Valencia on the east coast of Spain. Chris Hughton’s side suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Leeds due to a brace from former Albion loanee, Chris Wood.

Despite the defeat, the performance wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Both goals were avoidable thanks to shoddy defending from Lewis Dunk and Fikayo Tomori. At the other end, Brighton’s main men were not at their best, chances for Glenn Murray and Anthony Knockaert were wasted. On another day, the result could have been completely different. However, you can’t afford to dwell on mistakes at this stage of the season.

0c4a0328-4f1f-45cc-9eda-b4b681eb0701-6985-000008b45aae4c5d.png

The deserved break and three-day fitness camp should see players and management refreshed for the Blackburn match at the Amex on April Fools Day.

The first week of April sees Brighton face Blackburn and Birmingham City at home, as well as Holloway’s flying QPR side at Loftus Road on April 7. In the space of a week, Promotion could look more of a certainty than a dream. In the same week, Huddersfield have a straightforward match against Burton Albion, another home fixture against 8th placed Norwich, and an away match versus struggling Nottingham Forest.

image
Photo: BHA Supporters Blog – QPR vs Brighton 2015/16

 

If Brighton are able to get 7 points out of those 3 games, they will be on 85 points.  Last season, Brighton were on 75 points after 40 games, they are 2 points better off with 2 less games currently. It shows how competitive the Championship has become at the top of the table. It is almost a certainty that more than 90 points will be needed for top two.

I would be much more worried if Brighton lost to Bristol City 4-0. However it can be said, all three top teams are dropping points at the moment. Newcastle have acquired 2 points out of a potential 9 in their last three games. Brighton and Huddersfield have 6 points out of a potential 9 in their last three games. The only team who have been undefeated for more than three games in the top six is Leeds. They are unbeaten in seven matches.

The end of another Championship season is drawing closer. Brighton are in a great position in terms of points tally and goal difference (+30 compared to Huddersfield’s +4 goal difference). If you told me that we would be on 77 points with eight games left and have a six point gap on third, I would have metaphorically bit your hand off!

 

Article by George Carden
Contact:
georgecarden99@gmail.com
Twitter: @George_Carden
Advertisements

The Day After: A Brighton Fan’s Thoughts on the Game


Football can be cruel. In the space of minutes, a result can be turned on its head and throw fans through every emotion thinkable. Fulham were on the receiving end of that when Brighton punished them with two goals in three minutes back in early January. That would be the unfortunate fate of Brighton last night. Goals from Mohamed Diame and Ayoze Perez in the space of eight minutes snatched 3 points and 1st place from Hughton’s clutches.

brighton-hove-albion-v-newcastle-united-sky-bet-championship
Image sourced from: irishmirror.ie

Thoughts on the game…

Brighton started off the stronger of the two sides. Bruno was denied by Kyle Darlow after the keeper parried his powerful volley. Baldock also came very close after a clever free kick routine which saw him clear on goal. However, once again Darlow made the vital stop. The Magpies keeper made a few more decent saves against Knockaert and Murray

A scramble in the box granted Brighton a seemingly fortuitous penalty. Both Murray and Clark were pulling each others shirts. It was the first of many odd decisions by referee,  Bobby Madley. Murray stepped up and converted the penalty.

Both teams had very good chances to score. Gouffran should have capitalised from Stockdale’s mistake. Brighton were unlucky to have a header cleared off the line. On another day the score could of been much higher for both teams.


Player Ratings

3dd08f5d00000578-4269204-image-m-47_1488319040763
Image sourced from: dailymail.co.uk (Getty Images)

 

It was a very mixed game for Brighton. The Seagulls created many great chances in the first 30 minutes. However, it was Newcastle who controlled the rest of the match in search of an equaliser.

David Stockdale – 6 – The keeper made some important saves which undeniably kept Brighton in the match. However, he almost gifted Gouffran a goal with a careless pass. Stockdale also should of done better with his punch for the first goal. It left him out of position for Diame’s fortuitous deflection.

Bruno – 5 – Unlucky not to score from his powerful volley. He was caught out of position and needed to win the header from Ritchie’s cross field ball to prevent the second goal.

Dunk – 7 – Another solid performance. Didn’t do much wrong and unlucky to see his header cleared off the line.

Duffy – 7 – Continuing to impress and wins virtually every header. A brilliant addition alongside Dunk. However shouldn’t have lost Perez in the box for Newcastle’s second goal

Tomori – 5Struggled on the left side because he is naturally right footed. Played well enough and made a few decent tackles.

Knockaert – 6 – We saw occasional glimpses of his quality. However, Newcastle did well in man marking and making sure he had limited space.

Sidwell – 8 – Another solid performance. He made some crucial tackles. Sidwell alongside Stephens is looking like a great partnership.

Stephens – 6 – Average game for his standard. He did his job but also misplaced too many passes on the night.

Murphy – 7 – One of the better performers in the team. His direct running threatened Newcastle in the first half. He went missing in the second half.

Baldock – 6 – Provided energy and pace upfront as he always does. He was unlucky not to score in first half.

Murray – 5 – Yes he scored a penalty. However, misplaced far too many passes and was isolated in the second half. Not his best game in a Brighton shirt.


Man of the Match:

steve-sudwell
Image sourced from: dailymail.co.uk

Steve Sidwell. He was been rock solid in recent games. Provided some crucial tackles and link up play. He didn’t put a foot wrong in my opinion.



Remaining Games

We have played the best team in the Championship and were unlucky to lose. We lost to a team that is worth over £70,000,000 who also have a Champions League winning manager at their helm. We only have one top six side to play (Leeds). The rest of our games are very ‘winnable’ against mid-table sides. Villa might be a struggle on the last day of the season, but hopefully we will be promoted already by then.

We need Newcastle to do us a favour and beat Huddersfield and Reading in their two fixtures. If they do and we can get past Forest and Rotherham then we could be 12 points clear of third.

We have +30 goal difference and are 6 points clear of third. We are in a very strong position and promotion is in our hands. Lets just hope the players can hold their nerve.


Verdict

1488316033099_lc_galleryimage_brighton_england_february
Image sourced from: Getty Images

Both teams were below par however it was still an end-to-end entertaining game. The scoreline should have been much higher! Bobby Madley didn’t help the flow of the game by blowing the whistle every time players made contact. I thought we sat on our laurels too early and payed the price by sitting too deep and as a result gave Ritchie and Shelvey space to run at our defence and spray passes around the pitch. We were too sloppy with our passing which cost us when we were chasing a goal at the end. Hughton normally makes wise substitutions, however, taking Baldock off when it was 1-1 invited pressure and allowed the Magpies defence to play it out from the back. Kayal was also ineffective when he came on the pitch.

However, the chances we created would have probably been enough against a lower-placed side. It wasn’t our worse performance but a combination of misfortune and lack of concentration cost us. If we play like we did last night against Nottingham Forest, we are very likely to come away with three points.

Ideally, both Newcastle and Brighton will finish in the top two. Both teams have been superior than the rest of the Championship clubs over the course of the season and it would be the fairest outcome!

I believe Newcastle will win the league. Last night’s result will probably be the difference. However, winning the league is not the priority. Securing second and avoiding play offs is.

Top two is the priority and we are still in a great position to finish there.

Article by George Carden

How Lewis Dunk has evolved into a Premiership quality centre-back

From his days as a promising but reckless youngster, to a commanding ball-playing defender. The evolution of Lewis Dunk has been simply remarkable.

lewis-dunk-brighton-football_3780682
Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk

 

Since making his debut in a 0-0 draw with MK Dons back in April 2010. Lewis has gone on to make 133 senior appearances for Brighton and Hove Albion.

When did Dunk become a pivotal player for Brighton and Hove Albion?

Most Albion fans would agree that Dunk’s real breakthrough came in the 2014/15 season. Brighton finished 20th and without Dunk’s consistency and goalscoring threat, Brighton would of certainly been banished to League 1 obscurity. In all competitions, Lewis Dunk was Albion’s top scorer with 7 goals.

dunk-sending-off
Dunk sending off versus Derby 2015/16. Photo credit: http://www.irishmirror.ie

In the past, Dunk has been branded as a quality young player, however, a player who has a reckless streak. In the last 3 years, he has accumulated 4 red cards and 24 yellow cards (113 appearances). Two of those red cards were picked up last season.

Dunk has well surpassed last seasons yellow card total. The defender has picked up 11 this season which dwarfs his 6 from last season. Brighton fans have witnessed occasional lapses in concentration from the Brighton-born defender, he got sent off for a second yellow against the 3-1 defeat against Huddersfield and 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday for unnecessary tackles.

dunk-vs-villa

 

 

There is no denying his quality with Shane Duffy and David Stockdale in preventing goals. In Dunk’s 29 appearances, Brighton have kept 17 clean sheets. When Dunk has been suspended, Brighton have drawn 3-3 against Brentford, lost 2-0 to Preston, and scraped a win away at Wigan.

With games coming up against Reading, Newcastle, Leeds and Derby. Every player will need to be at their best. That means no reckless challenges from Lewis Dunk!

Article by George Carden

Is Dale Stephens the central figure to Brighton’s promotion hopes?

Dale Stephens often goes unnoticed during matches, his stats on paper aren’t fantastic from an outsiders point of view either. Two goals and one solitary assist this season seems much worse than his seven goals and five assists from the 2015/16 season. However his link up play, physicality, and superb technical ability has been vital for Brighton this season.  In 22 appearances, Brighton have won 18 games, drawn 5, and lost 0 with Stephens in the team.

StephensHullFeb16.jpg
Dale Stephens evades Hull’s Jake Livermore – Picture taken by: Richard Parkes

 

The 27 year old’s place at the club was shrouded in speculation in the summer. Multiple bids from Burnley, which ended with an eventual £7 million pound bid left Albion fans praying for the transfer window to slam shut as soon as possible. This ended with Stephens handing a transfer request in a last ditch attempt to force a move to Burnley and play Premier League football. The Bolton-born midfielder tweeted to Brighton fans about his desire to play in the Premier League, he also stated that he would honour his contract and do everything he could to help Brighton achieve promotion.

stephens-tweet
Dale Stephens’ tweet composed on 01/09/16

Stephens offers technical ability superior to many Championship players. His 88% pass completion percentage and average of 46 passes per game show how crucial he is in the heart of Brighton’s midfield. According to http://www.squawka.com, 65% of Stephens’ passes have been forward passes.

The £500,000 investment for Dale in January 2014 has proved very wise of Tony Bloom and the scouting team. His current market value is £4,250,000 and is still rising from his consistently good performances (source: http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk)

stephensderby3

 

Stephens stated, “every time I’m on the pitch I’m fully committed. That’s something I will carry on doing throughout the season.”

“We want to do this together and sometimes you’ve got to be patient and wait for your chance.”

Dale Stephens should be fit enough to start Saturday’s game against Burton Albion after suffering from a recurring groin injury. He will prove vital for the must-win games against Burton and Ipswich. Win both of those, and Brighton and Hove Albion will be back on track.


Article by George Carden

Match Preview – Brighton vs Sheffield Wednesday – 20/01/17

Brighton face a sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday side who will be looking to cause an upset in front of the Sky cameras.

5ad29128-298a-4ef5-98b5-c2f6e79f1306_800
Courtesy of http://www.seagulls.co.uk

Recent Form

Brighton suffered their first defeat in 18 games last weekend away to Preston North End. The Seagulls hadn’t lost a league game since September 10. However, before that, Chris Hughton’s side won five games in a row. Brighton currently have 12 points out of 15 in their last five games.

Sheffield Wednesday are currently unbeaten in six games, they have won four of those last six. Carlos Carvahal’s side boast wins against table-toppers Newcastle, and Huddersfield Town. In their last 5 games, the Owls have acquired 11 points out of a possible 15.


Last Time Out

knockaert

Brighton won 2-1 thanks to goals from Sam Baldock and Anthony Knockaert. Gary Hooper scored a 90th minute consolation but it was too little, too late for Sheffield Wednesday.


Familiar Faces

will-buckley
Image courtesy: Getty Images

Will Buckley. The winger joined Brighton in the summer of 2011 and went on to score 19 goals in 96 games for Seagulls. He then linked up with former manager, Gus Poyet, at Sunderland. Buckley failed to adapt to life in the Premier League. He made just over 20 appearances for Sunderland but since then has been loaned out to Leeds United, Birmingham City and current team, Sheffield Wednesday.


Fact of the Day:

Brighton last played Sheffield Wednesday on a Friday evening in 2012. The Seagulls won 3-0 thanks to goals from Craig Mackail-Smith, Wayne Bridge and you guessed it… Will Buckley.


We are looking forward to…

_93667261_dunk2
Image courtesy: Getty Images

Having Lewis Dunk back in the side. He has been a rock in defence all season and having him back from his two-game suspension will be crucial.


Verdict

Another massive game for Brighton. The players will be bursting to claim even more ‘revenge’ after the play off misery of last season. That revenge factor played the difference at Hillsborough in October and it could be the difference tonight.

Prediction:

BHAFC: 2

Murray, Dunk

Sheffield Wednesday: 1

Wallace

 

Article by George Carden

Albion December Round Up

Brighton remained unbeaten throughout December. The Seagulls haven’t lost a league game in 104 days. The last league defeat they suffered was against Brentford all the way back in September. In that time, they have kept 11 clean sheets in 18 matches and scored 33 goals. Here is everything that happened for Brighton over the festive period.


007603a6-7b4e-4761-a408-1c1f91cebcd1_800


Brighton travelled up to a Cardiff side who hadn’t yet found their feet this season. It was newly appointed assistant-manager Paul Trollope’s first return to the Welsh side since his sacking in October. The game finished 0-0 and the only notable incident was Gaetan Bong receiving a second yellow and being banned for the Leeds game.

Six days later, Brighton hosted Leeds in what looked to be a tough fixture. Kalvin Phillips denied a certain goal from Lewis Dunk by blocking the ball with his hand. The defender was given a straight red. The resulting penalty was scored by Glenn Murray. Brighton sealed the game with eight minutes to go. Dunk was fouled in the box and Hemed stepped up to coolly dispatch the penalty. That was the Israeli international’s fifth goal in four games against Leeds.

Albion faced Blackburn on the 13th of December. It was a night for returning defenders. Signed from Blackburn in the summer, Shane Duffy scored a header to open the scoring whilst ex-Seagulls skipper, Gordon Greer, received a second yellow for a rash tackle on Glenn Murray. Brighton ended up winning 3-2 with Dale Stephens and Glenn Murray grabbing the goals. Sam Gallagher made the affair seem closer with a last minute consolation.

Brighton then travelled up to Birmingham on 17th December. The Seagulls went 1-0 down through a Jutkiewicz header. However, thanks to Solly March causing havoc on the Blues defence, Brighton were able to make it 1-1 thanks to a driven shot from Anthony Knockaert. It was his first goal since his fathers passing. Knockaert was also the man to deliver the corner for Murray’s 94th minute winner.

birminghamcityvbrightonhovealbionsky-x3xx7s2ehfx
Image courtesy of: zimbio.com



Brighton also faced QPR on 27th December. The Seagulls didn’t cover themselves in glory. However, thanks to a Sam Baldock screamer, they took the lead early. Murray and Knockaert capped off a straightforward win for Hughton’s side.

On the 30th December, we were unfortunate to see the first ever game postponed at the Amex. Brighton were set to play Cardiff for the second match between the two, however due to thick fog, the match had to be cancelled.

Brighton players walk across the pitch before the game is called off due to thick fog and low visibility before the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Cardiff City at the Amex Stadium, Brighton on 30th December 2016
Image courtesy of: brunchnews.com

 

chris-hughton_jpg_gallery

Chris Hughton was awarded manager of the month for December after remaining unbeaten and picking up 13 points out of a possible 15. Brighton also ended 2016 top of the league!

Let’s hope January is just as successful for Brighton!

Article by George Carden

Last piece of the puzzle: How Shane Duffy has made Albion’s defence the most formidable in the league

The towering centre-back has formed arguably the best defensive partnership alongside Lewis Dunk this season.

dunk-l229-3348789_613x460
Image courtesy of http://www.seagulls.co.uk

Duffy, signed from Blackburn for £4.5 million in the summer, has been a revelation and one of the key factors to Brighton’s run of 13 undefeated league games. During that time Brighton have only conceded 5 goals.

The Irishman has averaged 7.3 clearances per game as well as 1.1 tackles and nearly 2 interceptions per game too. Duffy boasts a pass success rate of 78% which shows his ability to help Brighton start attacks from the back.

1c46c43e-938c-4e99-bf01-dafe4c977f9e_800
Image courtesy of http://www.seagulls.co.uk

The defender has managed an average rating of 7.44  for Brighton this season. Only Lewis Dunk and Anthony Knockaert have played better this season (both with a 7.67 average rating).

 

The 24 year old could be compared to former skipper, Gordon Greer. An old fashioned big defender who relies on their physicality rather than pace. It may be true that Duffy lacks the acceleration of someone like Connor Goldson, however his positioning and ability to read the game and win the vast majority of aerial duels is a credit to his talent. Full credit to Hughton and the scouting team on acquiring such a brilliant player.

Which former Albion player would you compare Duffy to?

 

Article by George Carden