JP Kurbhi, 15th September 2023
It’s been a total of five matchdays into the 2023-24 Premier League season, and speculation on the teams are already starting to form: Chelsea have just proved that the “mid-table mandems” insult is somewhat fitting in a run of disappointing performances despite wasting over 435 Million Pounds, while Tottenham’s fans are now on an all-time high level of hope that they have a chance at the Premier League, even though the only challenge they faced being Manchester United (and also drawing with Brentford). However, there is a team which takes all of the attention for their talented players and their ability to find the finest in global football. That team is Brighton and Hove Albion, who currently lie sixth in the Premier League’s table.
Brighton currently stands at 9 points, with three wins and one loss in the first four games of the season.
Ever since the Seagulls ascended into the Premier League in 2017-18, they had been slowly been getting a very talented side ready to challenge England’s best teams, and that progress was shown in the 2021-22 season, as they finished ninth in the standings, the highest Brighton had ever reached in the Premier League after a couple of seasons of standing around the lower half of the table.
However, this development was shown entirely in the season afterwards. After Graham Potter (their coach ever since the 2019-20 season) left the team after being signed to manage Chelsea, they were in need of a new coach for the 2022-23 season. Enter, Roberto de Zerbi. He was able to keep the momentum of the previous season, sealing impressive wins against English football giants like Chelsea (4-1), Manchester United (2-1) and Liverpool (3-0).
The Seagulls’ lineup was also fantastic: they had in their cards players such as Alexis Mac Allister, Kaoru Mitoma, Pervis Estupiñán, Pascal Groß, Evan Ferguson, Julio Enciso, and many more. Notably, forward Leandro Trossard caught the eyes of Arsenal, who signed the Belgian winger in the midseason. Brighton scored a total of 75 goals while conceding 53, to end the season with a goal difference of +19. This was good enough for a sixth-place finish, which meant that Brighton would be playing European football for the first time in their history over at the Europa League, placing ahead of giants like Chelsea and Tottenham.
With the season ending, many of Brighton’s stars were signed by other teams, with Mac Allister joining Liverpool after scoring 12 goals, while Chelsea took over Robert Sánchez and Moisés Caicedo, whose signing sparked controversy as he was almost confirmed by Liverpool before joining the Blues.
Italian manager Roberto de Zerbi pulled out all the right moves to secure Brighton sixth.
With some of their main stars being swooped over to other teams, some were concerned about how that would affect Brighton in the next season, but that did not deter the Seagulls, as they signed over players like Brazilian winger João Pedro from Watford, midfielder James Milner from Liverpool in a free transfer and Brazilian center-back Igor Julio over from Italian side Fiorentina. It was their first loan during the season, however, which truly made an insane impact.
The announcement of Barcelona wonderkid Ansu Fati over on a season-long loan came as a huge shock for English football, as the Spanish winger was Barcelona’s number 10 ever since Lionel Messi’s exit from Barcelona, and was hailed as a future star. Fati stated in an interview that he talked to de Zerbi, who reassured him that a move to Brighton would help him shake off the injuries, the pressure, the opportunities he was denied at Barcelona and the increasing tension to prove himself as Barcelona’s next superstar. Fati constantly suffered from injuries throughout his time as Barca’s number 10, but this helped Brighton unlock a seemingly enormous amount of potential.
Brighton managed to sign Ansu Fati over from Barcelona on a season-long loan, shocking fans around the world.
The Seagulls’ season started off with an insane thrashing of Premier league rookies Luton Town, in the Hatters’ first game in the Premier League, where we saw Brighton win the game with a whopping 4-1 score. Brighton’s goals came from Solly March, João Pedro, Simon Adingra and Evan Ferguson. Brighton’s next “victims” were Wolverhampton Wanderers, where yet again we saw the Seagulls beat their opponent 4-1, with goals from Kaoru Mitoma, Pervis Estupiñán and two from March.
Even after a loss against West Ham, Brighton then proceeded to continue Newcastle’s early season woes, as they proceeded to beat them 3-1, with an Evan Ferguson masterclass, being the third player to score a hat-trick and the first for Brighton in the Premier League ever since Leandro Trossard’s hat-trick against Liverpool in the 2022-23 season. Finally, the most notable win for the team was the fantastic result gained against Manchester United; a 3-1 win over them at the Old Trafford, with goals from Danny Welbeck, Pascal Groß and João Pedro to seal a dominant win over the Premier League title record holders.
This start of the season for Brighton gets football fans thinking: could Brighton potentially challenge the goliaths of the Premier League? What will happen? What we do know is that the team and their home of Falmer Stadium could potentially witness an underdog story for the ages, and their team is essentially in top shape and morale. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, but Brighton could potentially be on the Premier League’s spotlight, and there’s an undeniable excitement that’s hard to contain on what will happen to one of the Premier League’s most interesting teams.