Brighton & Albion have made an excellent start to the season. Even with the departure of Graham Potter to Chelsea in September, the arrival of former Sassuolo manager Roberto De Zerbi has meant they could continue to play their brave and forward-thinking style of football. But for all of their excellent approach to the game, what can the Seagulls realistically achieve this season?
To answer that, we need to review their 2022/23 campaign and analyse whether they can keep up their consistent performances throughout the rest of the season.
Consistent Player Performances
Part of why the Seagulls find themselves 7th in the Premier League table is the consistently good performances from their playing squad. One example is the Ecuadorian midfielder Moisés Caicedo, sweeping the midfield in front of the Brighton defence, in addition to averaging 3.1 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game, joint first and second in the team, respectively—becoming the heartbeat of the team since his signing from Independiente del Valle in 2021.
Another consistent performer in the Seagulls team is Belgian forward Leandro Trossard. As he spearheads the Brighton attack, the former Genk man has notched up seven goals and two assists in the top flight. His passing has also improved, averaging 1.6 key passes per game, behind only Pascal Gross. The Belgian appears to have stepped up his game recently as he becomes a vital player in the Brighton forward line, both in creating chances and scoring goals for De Zerbi’s side.Embed from Getty Images
Just behind him, Gross has kept up his consistency in the midfield which has served him and the team well in recent years. The German has racked up five goals and two assists in this campaign. Furthermore, he has contributed to 1.9 key passes, and seven big chances created this season, the most of anyone in the team, demonstrating his evident abilities to unlock defences and create golden opportunities for the Seagulls attack.
Meanwhile, captain Lewis Dunk has continued his excellent form in the defence, which has helped his side to 4 clean sheets. The defender also has averaged 3.2 clearances and 5.1 accurate long balls per game, the most of anyone in the team, showing his ability to mop up the defence and get the ball forward quickly to the attack when needed.
Roberto De Zerbi’s Tactics and Approach Play
When Italian head coach Di Zerbi was appointed as Brighton’s new manager in September, not many knew about him and his managerial career before he arrived at the Amex stadium. But when looking through his record as a manager, it’s not hard to see why Brighton appointed him.
During his time at Sassuolo, De Zerbi spent three seasons with the Italian side and guided them to 11th and two 8th-place finishes during the 18/19, 19/20 and 20/21 seasons, respectively. Playing the 4-2-3-1 formation through the majority of his time there, he found a consistent formula of results which made the side fun to watch and put up good battles against the better teams in the Serie A.
After leaving Sassuolo, he became Shakhtar Donetsk’s manager for the 2021/22 season. Playing with the same formations and approach to the game, he led the top of the Ukrainian League by 2 points before he had to leave the club due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February this year, with the season being unable to resume.Embed from Getty Images
In the nine games De Zerbi has taken charge of since his appointment, he started his first five games with the 3-4-2-1 formation, picking up where Potter left off. But after losing three and drawing two of those games, he switched to his trusted 4-2-3-1 set-up and picked up his first wins as Brighton manager, defeating Chelsea 4-1, Wolves 3-2 in the league ad Arsenal 3-1 in the League Cup.
He narrowly lost 2-1 to Unai Emery’s rejuvenated Aston Villa side, where they were unlucky not to get anything from the game before the season halted due to the World Cup in Qatar. But, after some time for adjustment, the Italian appears to have grasped the side and found the correct formation and personnel to carry out his approach to matches.
The players mentioned here are but a few in the Brighton squad who have demonstrated a significant amount of consistency this season. Suppose they can keep up their performances, and the club gives De Zerbi time to build the team in his image. In that case, there’s a chance the Seagulls could qualify for European football and maybe even win silverware if they go all the way in either the FA or League Cup competitions.