A Season In Review: Brighton

Brighton and Hove Albion

In this series of 20 articles, we take a look back at the Premier League season, focusing on each team individually. We take a look at transfer window activity, managerial changes, and key points throughout the season.

Check out my previous edition of my A Season In Review series, featuring Brentford!

Transfer Windows

I do not quite know how Brighton manages to do it every season, but they find a way. Year after year they lose a few of their key players, first-team players who have been performing brilliantly, and every season they manage to find a player for less than £10 million that replaces them and makes them look even stronger.

This season was no different. They lost Marc Cucurella to Chelsea for big money, and Yves Bissouma went to Spurs. Trossard found himself making the switch to Arsenal in January, and Neal Maupay moved to Everton.

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After losing their left back, they signed Pervis Estupinan, for less than half of what they sold Cucurella for. The same with Julio Enciso. Brighton spent less than half of the money they got for Bissouma on him.

They replaced Maupay with Evan Ferguson from their youth team, who came in and managed more goals than Maupay did at Everton. Billy Gilmour arrived from Chelsea on a permanent deal, and Levi Colwill joined on loan.

Brighton makes so much money and spends so little. It is a brilliant business model to have, and considering the season they have had, they are only getting better and better, and will now be playing in Europe next season.

A fantastic transfer window as far as Brighton are concerned, they sold well, and replaced where needed, evening dipping into their youth team when needed. I look forward to seeing their summer transfer window.

Managerial Changes

Graham Potter was doing a fine job for Brighton, but was he actually holding them back? Would they have got European football had he been in charge all season? We will never know now.

After a good start to the season, Chelsea decided to take a chance on the young manager, choosing him to replace Thomas Tuchel. Roberto De Zebri got given the reigns 10 days later, and the rest is history.

De Zebri got compliments from Klopp and Guardiola, with many fans and pundits alike praising his attacking football. He is the reason they managed to finish so high up the league table this season. Potter left him a good foundation, but De Zerbi took Brighton that one step further.

It was a big risk for Brighton to take, as they could have found a more experienced manager, or even a more successful one, to take the helm, but they went with a, at first, less popular choice, and it paid off in the end.

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Key Games

The turning point for Brighton for me was one of De Zebri’s first games in charge, and conveniently that came against Graham Potter’s Chelsea. With all eyes set on both sides, to see how Potter would do against his former club, it was De Zebri who impressed.

Admittedly, Chelsea did everything they could to help Brighton. After Trossard opened the scoring for Brighton after 5 minutes, Loftus-Cheek and Chalobah both scored own goals to put Brighton 3-0 up at halftime.

Chelsea looked to attack from the off at the start of the second half and reduced the deficit after just 3 minutes through Havertz. There was no comeback, however, and Pascal Groß made sure of the result, making it 4-1 in stoppage time.

Brighton’s good results against the top 6 continued after that, with wins against Liverpool, Chelsea (again), Man United and Arsenal all to come. These results capped off what was a brilliant season for Brighton, and it definitely helped them during their European push.

Cup Competitions

Carabao Cup

Brighton’s Carabao Cup fixture kicked off with an away game against struggling League One newcomers Forest Green Rovers. It was a simple enough result for Brighton, running out 3-0 winners, with goals from Undav and Alzate in the first half, and Ferguson in second-half stoppage time.

In the third round, they had an extremely tough tie away against Arsenal, who were looking to go far in this competition. It looked to be going the home sides way when Nketiah netted after 20 minutes to put them in front, but Brighton had other ideas.

Former Gunner Danny Welbeck netted from the spot just 7 minutes later, sending the team’s level at halftime. In the second half, Mitoma scored just before the half-hour mark, and Lamptey made sure of the result in the 71st minute.

A brilliant result in the third round was rewarded with what seemed to be a relatively straightforward away game against League One side Charlton Athletic. The 90 minutes came and went with no goals, sending the game to penalties.

Stockley and Groß missed their penalties, and Trossard missed, whilst Forster-Caskey found the back of the net. Dobson missed, and Ferguson scored making it 1-1 after 3 sets of penalties each. Rak-Sakyi missed his penalty, as Lewis Dunk scored his putting Brighton in the lead. Blackett-Taylor made it 2-2, and Solly March kept it that way, as he missed his.

Sessengon and Lamptey both scored their penalties as the shootout reached its climax. Lavelle scored his for Charlton, and Caicedo missed his penalty, sending Brighton out, and giving Charlton a surprising win.

After knocking Arsenal out, Brighton will have had high hopes of making it far into the competition, especially after being given some favourable ties against lower-league opposition, but they could not make it count.

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FA Cup

Brighton’s FA Cup adventure could be deemed a lot more successful than their Carabao Cup one. They entered the competition in the third round, with an away tie against Championship side Middlesbrough.

2 goals in 15 minutes from Groß and Akpom got the tie off to a great start, with the scores at 1-1. Brighton upped the tempo, as Lallana scored just before the half-hour mark to give Brighton the lead.

MacAllister scored 13 minutes after halftime to put Brighton in command, as MacAllister scored his second of the game, and Undav also scored, in the final 10 minutes, giving Brighton an impressive 5-1 win.

Their reward was a tasty home game against Liverpool in the fourth round. A very big test for them, but one they needed to pass if they were to progress through the competition. It did not get off to the best of starts for the home side as Harvey Elliot gave the visitors the lead after 30 minutes.

But Brighton hit back quickly, with Lewis Dunk scoring just 9 minutes later to level the tie. An entertaining game between the two sides had a late, dramatic finish, as Kaoru Mitoma scored in the 92nd minute to win the game for Brighton, sending them into the fifth round.

A less impressive and glamorous fixture awaited them, as they were handed a trip to Stoke. But it did present them with a good chance of getting to the quarter-finals as Stoke was struggling in the Championship. A tight 1-0 win for The Seagulls, courtesy of Ferguson, sent them through to the quarters.

Brighton got given one of the more favourable ties in the quarter-finals. A home tie against League Two side, and surprise inclusion, Grimsby Town. Having knocked out Southampton in the round previous, they were not to be taken lightly.

Brighton turned up and ran away with it. Another quick start, with Undav scoring after 6 minutes got Brighton off to the perfect start, but we were made to wait for the second half for any further goals.

Ferguson scored 6 minutes after the restart, and then again with 20 minutes to go to put the result beyond doubt at 3-0. Solly March made it 4-0 with 8 minutes to go, with Mitoma finishing the rout with a goal in the 90th minute.

An emphatic win sent them through the semi-finals, where a tie against Man United awaited them at Wembley. An entertaining game finished 0-0 after 90 minutes, and stayed 0-0 throughout extra time, meaning a penalty shootout would decide who got through to the finals.

After a clean set of penalties from each side, the shootout went to sudden death, and, after missing against in the shootout earlier in the season with Charlton, Solly March was the unlucky player to miss his penalty, sending United through after winning 6-5 on penalties.

Brighton did well to get to the semi-finals. They had a more favourable route, with Liverpool and Man United being the only teams of note that they played. They will be disappointed not to get to the final, but at least the Brighton fans got to go to Wembley.

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Season Overall

Overall, it has been a brilliant season for Brighton. After losing Graham Potter, many football fans may have expected them to drop off and finish lingering around the lower half of the table, but De Zebri proved these people wrong.

They got better with each week, their football became more and more attractive, and players performed out of their skin. Who knew Mitoma would light up the Premier League, and Ferguson would make the step up from youth football to play in the Premier League?

Their ability to spot a player is what keeps Brighton going. They find superstars from nowhere, that nobody else is looking at, and they make a massive profit on those players in a few year’s time.

I cannot wait to see how Brighton competes this year, especially when they have to contend with European fixtures, and the added pressure of them being expected to perform at such high levels again. An exciting time ahead for Brighton fans!

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