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Q&A inför Brighton hemma

Svenskbekantingen Graham Potter kommer till Anfield med sitt Brighton and Hove Albion idag, han gör det med en övertygande säsongsstart bakom sig. För vår del handlar det om att komma tillbaka in på vinnarspåret efter onsdagens mindre lyckade insats mot Napoli. Jeremy Smith(@jeremysmith98), som ni alla bör följa, skriver för bland annat @cnni och @talkSPORT2 men idag gästar han oss och berättar om Brightons säsongsstart:

1. Tell us a bit about the start of the season, are you satisfied with the teams performances?
I’m very satisfied with the team’s performances so far. We’re playing exciting, possession- and passing-based football. We have defenders given the freedom to attack, attackers pressing from the front – it’s a kind of adventurous attacking football with no inferiority complex which is in direct contrast to the football of the last couple of years – especially the final six months of Chris Hughton’s reign. And the most impressive thing is that it is for the most part being achieved with players who were already with us last season. We’ve even successfully brought a couple of our very talented youngsters into the first team squad. The only frustration is that we don’t have the number of points that our performances have deserved, particularly in the earlier part of the season. We could easily have been so much higher up the table if it wasn’t for a couple of silly red cards and late goals.

2. Graham Potter has been at your club since this summer, what has the former Östersund-trainer changed at Brighton?
See above! As a person, he has carried on where Hughton left off and it’s good to still have a coach who seems to be a very good man with good values. He immediately showed that he means no nonsense, loaning out fans’ favourite Knockaert and also sending Locadia and Andone for a season away after showing questionable attitudes. He’s also shown lots of tactical flexibility and it’s been very difficult to predict our line-up – both positions and personnel – for matches. This makes a massive change from Hughton, where you knew exactly who would play, and where, week in, week out.

3. How is the current form of the team?
It’s hard to judge current form as we’re in the middle of a tough run of fixtures, and have lost our last two, away at Man Utd and at home to Leicester. The first was a slight disappointment (which says a lot about where both we and Utd are right now) and the second you just have to hold you hands up and accept that the other team were better. Before that we’d been on a run of three straight home wins (Spurs, Everton, Norwich) and a very unlucky away defeat (Villa). Funnily enough, we played a lot better against Villa, and in other matches where we dropped points, then when we won against Everton and Norwich. The 3-0 Spurs win was surely the season highlight so far.

4. Who has been your best player so far this season?
Lewis Dunk has been as excellent as ever. Adam Webster has fitted into the defence brilliantly too. And Pascal Gross has returned to his excellent form of two seasons ago, before all his injury niggles last season. But I’d probably say the two best players have been Dan Burn and Leandro Trossard. Burn has been a revelation after barely featuring under Hughton. He has played every match, either as a centre back, full back or wing back, has been very solid in defence and given huge support in attack too (just see the late winner vs Everton). No one saw any of that coming. As for Trossard, he has already proven himself a matchwinner a few times (again, see winner vs Everton) and it’s a frustration that he has missed a lot of the season through injury. If he can stay fit, he looks like the player who, with his dribbling, crossing and shooting ability, could win us a lot of points as the season goes on.

5. What are your expectations on the team this season?
To be totally honest, I’d still take 17th place, but that’s because I’m a pessimist. If we can keep up our performances and just become a little more clinical up front, there’s no reason why we can’t look to a mid-table finish. I guess we’ll probably still finish in the bottom half of the table, but we should be aiming for 11th-15th rather than the bottom 5

6. What kind of game do you expect against Liverpool?
A difficult one! As we showed away to City, Potter won’t set the team up to be scared, to park the bus and to try to scrape a 0-0. Although we lost that match 4-0, we genuinely played well and posed City some problems. I think we could do the same here, but also think that that willingness to go for it will leave Liverpool spaces to exploit. It’s hard to look past a Liverpool win, but I hope that we give a good account of ourselves and play our part in an entertaining match.

7. Finally, you talked to us when Liverpool signed Fabinho, are you surprised to see how important the brazilian has been for us this season?
No, I’m not surprised at all. He was arguably the unsung hero of the title-winning Monaco team, providing the defensive shield and ball-playing ability from deep in midfield to ensure that Monaco didn’t concede many and that they transitioned quickly into attack. Although he was still young, he played like the experienced head, leaving the younger talents around him to grab all the headlines. He’s versatile, cool-headed and a class act. It’s a real pity that he looks to be out for a while with an injury.

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