Despite trailing against West Ham, the crowd nor the players ever looked like they didn’t believe three points were still fully possible on Boxing Day. A trio of second-half goals keeps Arsenal five points clear at the top of the Premier League and a confident start to Eddie Nketiah’s tenure as the starting number nine. Up next is a road trip to Falmer Stadium in Brighton on New Year’s Eve.
Brighton enters the weekend 7th in the Premier League after yet another stellar opening half of the campaign. A remarkable feat, given their summer departures and manager turmoil in the opening portion of the season. The Seagulls lost to Manchester City 3-1 before returning a week later to defeat Chelsea 4-1. Before the break, they topped Wolves, eliminated Arsenal from the League Cup, and dropped their final result 2-1 to Aston Villa.
Returning from the World Cup break they were knocked out of the League Cup by Charlton on penalties but won 3-1 against Southampton on Boxing Day. For this Q&A we dialed up the team over at We Are Brighton once again to see where things stand heading into the January transfer window.
TSF: Brighton returns to action 7th in the Premier League just a single point behind Liverpool. Given their performance to date, what would be your updated goals for the second half of the season?
We Are Brighton: Given the upheaval of Graham Potter walking out and taking his entire coaching team with him a week after the transfer window shut, I still would consider it a serious achievement to match last season’s ninth-placed finish.
Roberto De Zerbi had to pick the players up most of whom were Potter’s and implement his own different style of play in the middle of the first month of fixtures which included Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester City, and Chelsea.
To still be in seventh come the end of the campaign would eclipse anything Brighton have achieved before. It would also seal De Zerbi’s position as a coach with a frightening amount of talent.
TSF: Leandro Trossard leads the team with seven goals, which ties him for the 6th most in the Premier League. Do you believe he can keep up this pace (after a total of 8 goals last season)?
We Are Brighton: His agent has been very busy talking him up for a January move as it seems highly unlikely that he will sign a new contract with 18 months to go on his current deal.
My hunch is that Brighton will keep him until the summer and accept a reduced fee then. If he doesn’t let the decision not to let him leave impact his performance then he can definitely reach 15 goals. Especially as De Zerbi seems to have sorted the scoring goals issue which was a major problem for most of Potter’s reign.
TSF: By now everyone’s heard or read the retelling of Alexis Mac Allister, a Brighton player winning the World Cup. In 2020 the club bought him for €11 million. Now he has five goals (tied for the second most on the team), is worth €42 million, and was an integral part of Argentina’s winning run. Give us your take on how he’s played at Brighton this season and you’ve seen his game adjust over the past two years.
We Are Brighton: Brighton managed him very carefully and it took 18 months from his arrival to become a first-team regular. Since January 2022 though he has been superb.
The most impressive aspect of his game is his versatility. His best form for Brighton has come as a defensive midfielder since Yves Bissouma was sold to Spurs. Yet for Argentina, he plays and thrives as a number eight.
He’s under contract until 2025 and I suspect he will be another who goes in the summer. It will be for way more than £42m though - if Brighton could extract £62m for Marc Cucurella, Mac Allister isn’t going anywhere for less than that.
TSF: Looking ahead to the January transfer window, what areas of the squad does Brighton most need to address, and how likely do you think they will spend?
We Are Brighton: Brighton never spend big money in January but whether that remains the same with a new manager wanting to change the profile of the squad is anyone’s guess.
De Zerbi has apparently told the club where he wants to strengthen. Most fans would say a striker is a necessity as Danny Welbeck and Deniz Undav remain the only out-and-out centre forwards in the squad.
Whoever the Albion do sign will probably be someone nobody else has heard of who will then be worth five times as much as we paid in three years’ time.
TSF: Give us your predicted starting XI for Brighton and a scoreline for the match.
We Are Brighton: Moises Caicedo is suspended which throws a spanner in the works with Mac Allister also still partying somewhere in Argentina. I would suspect the same XI who started at Southampton on Boxing Day with Billy Gilmour in for Caicedo.
As for scoreline, Brighton seems to do better against the stronger Premier League sides. An entertaining 2-2 draw.
Thanks to We Are Brighton for chatting with us again ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixture.