Den tredje omgången av Premier League närmar sig och för Liverpools del är det äntligen dags för en lördagsmatch, på motståndarsidan står förra säsongens nykomling Brighton and Hove Albion. De står i dagsläget på tre inspelade poäng, efter en förlust i premiären blev det i den senaste omgången en klar seger mot Manchester United. Jeremy Smith(@jeremysmith98) besökte vår sida tidigare i år i sin roll som expert på fransk fotboll hos bl.a @FrenchFtweekly, men han är också ett hängivet fan av Brighton och berättar här hur han ser på laget och den kommande säsongen:
1. This is your second year in the Premier League, how was the first?
It was excellent! Everyone would have taken 17th place at the start of the season. To finish 15th, never in the relegation zone from September and (although we didn’t know it at the time) safe from early March was more than everyone could have wished for. Add to that a run to the FA Cup quarter final, and it was a great season. Arguably we needed to have more confidence in ourselves and show the opposition a little less respect – and the away form was pretty poor – but hard to find fault, really.
2. What are the feelings around the team after the start of the Premier League?
Our first match – defeat away to Watford – was pretty pathetic. No shots on target, a really poor performance overall and really disappointing as it’s the kind of match we’d lose last year but hoped to have improved on this year. But second match – a win over Manchester United – was superb. The 3-2 scoreline flattered them – we were hugely up for it, pressed brilliantly, were clinical with our chances and hope that it’s a sign of good things to come. We beat Man Utd at home last season to secure our safety – but this was a better performance all-round and hopefully sets us up for a good season.
3. Chris Hughton is your manager, what are your thoughts on him?
We love him! He got us up, he kept us up. He’s amazingly dignified and classy, never seems ruffled, and everyone in football seems to like him. Some people occasionally criticise him for being too loyal to certain players at times when they have lost form, and for being a little too defensively-minded, but again, these are minor criticisms compared to the love for him. (Ironically, his brother, who as a Crystal Palace player, ended a Brighton player’s career in the 80s, is one of our most despised players ever.)
4. Tell us a bit about your silly season, are you happy with the players you have signed?
Generally yes. We had quite a think squad last season and several players played every, or almost every match. We were very lucky overall with lack of injuries and suspensions. But it was a concern and a couple of positions needed strengthening. We’ve brought in several players who should give us cover and competition in most positions. We’ve brought in class acts like Martin Montoya at right back, promising talents like Yves Bissouma in midfielder and attackers such as Florin Andone and record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Obviously the big unknown is how well they’ll adapt to the Premier League, but the squad certainly looks better and bigger than last season.
5. What do you think are the strenghts and weaknessess of this team?
Last season, apart from a couple of blow-outs against you and Chelsea, our strength was at the back. Maty Ryan was excellent in goal and Dunk and Duffy rocks in the centre. Stephens and Propper did a great job in midfield too, shielding the defence and transitioning to attack. The weakest area was up front, where we did not score enough goals. We were too reliant on Pascal Gross (for his assists and goals) and Glenn Murray, who isn’t getting any younger. Hopefully our new signings, plus more support from our wingers and midfielders (along with a more positive attitude from Hughton), will mean more goals this season. Other strength vs weakness – we had an excellent home record but a very poor away one. Another area for improvement to avoid any relegation fears.
6. What do you expect from Brighton this season?
I expect gradual progression from last year. Hopefully we will show more confidence, really believe that we deserve to be where we are (beating Utd again should help with that), be more prepared to take the game to opponents and continue our general upward curve, with a slightly higher league finish and maybe another good cup run. All that being said, I would probably still take 17th right now if you offered it!
7. How do you think you will lineup against Liverpool and what kind of game do you expect?
I expect a similar line-up to the Utd match, as Hughton doesn’t chop and change too much and certainly doesn’t change a winning team. I believe that his best ever result as a manager against Liverpool was the 0-4 defeat in the last match of last season, so we’re certainly not expecting much from this. He may even choose to go more defensive and put Kayal instead of Propper in midfield. But whatever the line-up, expect a tight, compact unit, that will probably look to soak up pressure and hope to hit you on the break. Hope probably being the operative word here!