Premier League 2022-23 preview No 5: Brighton

Guardian writers’ predicted position 12th (NB: this is not necessarily Ed Aarons’s prediction but the average of our writers’ tips)

Last season’s position 9th

Odds to win the league (via Oddschecker) 250-1

Prospects

The mood on the south coast is understandably positive after last season’s record-breaking campaign under the shrewd Graham Potter, even if there could be some tinkering required at the Amex. Brighton achieved their highest ever top-flight finish (ninth), picked up 10 more points (51) than their previous highest tally, scored more goals (42) than ever before in the Premier League and – most importantly – finished above Crystal Palace for the first time since being promoted in 2017.

Ready for the Premier League 2022-23: Brighton – video

Yet while the 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United at the start of May came in the middle of a purple patch to round off the season, it was Brighton’s first home victory of 2022 as any hopes of securing European qualification slipped away in February and March. This time, Potter will know that finding a striker capable of scoring more than the nine goals top scorer Neal Maupay managed will be key to their chances of finishing higher.

The loss of Yves Bissouma from the midfield engine room after he joined Tottenham and potential departure of Marc Cucurella – the Spain left-back who won Players’ Player and Player of the Season awards in his debut season – to Manchester City could be major blows, however. Moisés Caicedo could be a ready-made replacement for Bissouma and Potter is likely to have to find other solutions from within his existing squad given that the only new additions at the time of writing are winger Simon Adingra and 18-year-old Paraguay forward Julio Enciso.

The manager

There must be quite a few clubs who rank Potter highly in their shortlists for potential future managers after watching his side’s steady progression since he joined from Swansea in May 2019. But that is nothing compared to his popularity among Brighton fans, who were treated to a rare display of excitement from the usually mild-mannered 47-year-old from Solihull after their win over United back in May. Surrounded by supporters as he made his way to the car park and asked to sing a song, Potter surprised them by asking for quiet and shouting: “Seeeaguuuullllssss” at the top of his voice. “I think I have shown emotion over the last three years and sometimes not in a good way,” he later reflected. “But sometimes it’s nice to walk through them and act like a bit of an idiot.”

Graham Potter at the Amex Stadium.
Graham Potter is a manager many so-called bigger clubs may have an eye on, but Brighton believe he can achieve his ambitions with them. Photograph: Jane Stokes/ProSports/Shutterstock

Transfer coup

Brighton’s knack for scouting the best young talent in South America has already borne fruit with the signings of promising Ecuador midfielder Caicedo and Argentina international Alexis Mac Allister and there are high hopes that Enciso will be the next success story. The 18-year-old who operates mainly as a wide forward on the right flank and scored 11 goals for Club Libertad in the Paraguayan top flight last season could be sent out on loan initially but expect him to compete for a first team spot in the near future.

World Cup impact

Tariq Lamptey’s decision to play for Ghana took the potential number of players who will be at the World Cup to around half of Graham Potter’s squad, although several face a fight for their places before November. Japan winger Kaoru Mitoma could become a regular after spending last season on loan in Belgium, while prolific German striker Deniz Undaz may fancy his chances too following his goalscoring exploits at Union Saint-Galloise – whose majority shareholder is Brighton owner Tony Bloom.

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Alternative attractions during World Cup

The beach is a definite no-no in November but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the delights of Brighton’s famous Palace Pier. In 2017, it was the most visited tourist attraction outside London with more than four million taking in the views and sea air.

Leading the shirt sales

Leandro Trossard enjoyed his most productive season since his arrival on the south coast in 2019, scoring eight goals in the Premier League and capping that off with two more for Belgium in their 6-1 thrashing of Poland in June. The 27-year-old is entering the final year of his contract, although Brighton retain an option to extend that by another 12 months. Should he continue his excellent form all the way to the World Cup in Qatar, Brighton can expect much more interest in the man from Maasmechelen.

Social climber

Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s departure to Feyenoord last summer with the Iran forward’s 1.8m followers left a vacancy at the top of Brighton’s Instagram rankings. The stylish Cucurella (240,000) – check out the patterns on his blue shirt and shorts combo from last month during his holidays in Mykonos – is a frequent poster and seems to have appeared in many of his teammates’ posts as well during the pre-season trip to Portugal. But then he too may leave this summer …

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If Brighton were a Netflix doc …

Tony Bloom’s role in transforming his hometown club into Premier League mainstays since taking over in 2009 is worthy of a Hollywood script already. But imagine if the man who earned his nickname of “The Lizard” as a member of the winning British team in the Poker Nations Cup could take Brighton all the way into Europe under the unassuming Potter?

The Guardian