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Does Brighton Belong Among The Premier League Elite?

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Coming into Matchweek 9 of the 2022-23 season, the higher third of the Premier League desk appears roughly because it all the time has. Arsenal sits on prime after a wonderful begin. Manchester Metropolis is in second, doing Manchester Metropolis issues (learn: completely demolishing groups). Antonio Conte has Tottenham Hotspur sitting in third and taking part in in addition to it has since dismissing Mauricio Pochettino within the fall of 2019. Erik ten Hag appears to have turned issues round at fifth-place Manchester United. And although Liverpool acquired off to a sputtering begin, the underlying information — particularly, anticipated aim differential — suggests the Reds will likely be simply tremendous when all is claimed and performed. 

There may be, nonetheless, one main glitch within the matrix: Brighton & Hove Albion at the moment sit in fourth.

This may not appear too shocking to anybody who’s paid consideration since Graham Potter took over as Brighton supervisor again in 2019. “Potter Ball” acquired off to a little bit of a shaky begin when it was first launched to the South Coast in 2019, however beginning with the 2020-21 season, Potter’s Seagulls had been a borderline elite Premier League outfit by way of anticipated aim differential. Throughout massive stretches of the earlier three seasons — and notably through the earlier two — the Seagulls performed stunning, free-flowing, progressive soccer, even when their last place within the league desk didn’t do their play on the pitch a lot justice. 

Brighton was secretly among the many EPL’s finest in ’21 and ’22

Greatest English Premier League groups in keeping with anticipated aim differential, mixed 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons

Membership MP W D L Pts For Towards Diff.
Manchester Metropolis 76 56 11 9 179 161.8 58.5 +103.3
Liverpool 76 48 17 11 161 161.8 79.1 +82.7
Chelsea 76 40 21 15 141 131.2 68.8 +62.5
Tottenham 76 40 13 23 133 119.6 88.9 +30.8
Arsenal 76 40 10 26 130 113.3 91.3 +22.1
Manchester Utd 76 37 21 18 132 115.0 96.7 +18.3
Brighton 76 21 29 26 92 97.6 83.1 +14.4
West Ham 76 35 16 25 121 103.5 99.0 +4.6
Brentford 38 13 7 18 46 47.7 49.2 -1.5
Leicester Metropolis 76 34 16 26 118 106.8 108.7 -1.8
Aston Villa 76 29 13 34 100 97.0 101.8 -4.7
Fulham 38 5 13 20 28 41.3 52.9 -11.7
Everton 76 28 14 34 98 89.8 106.6 -16.8
Crystal Palace 76 23 23 30 92 78.4 98.3 -19.8
Southampton 76 21 20 35 83 89.2 112.8 -23.7
Watford 38 6 5 27 23 38.7 66.3 -27.6
Leeds United 76 27 16 33 97 104.6 132.8 -28.2
Newcastle Utd 76 25 19 32 94 81.3 109.4 -28.2
Wolves 76 27 15 34 96 75.8 106.1 -30.4
Sheffield Utd 38 7 2 29 23 31.4 62.4 -31.0
West Brom 38 5 11 22 26 33.8 67.7 -34.0
Burnley 76 17 23 36 74 78.9 114.3 -35.4
Norwich Metropolis 38 5 7 26 22 33.1 76.7 -43.6

Supply: fbref.com

Certainly, if it weren’t for some really dismal ending and dangerous luck — Brighton underperformed its xG differential by 22 internet objectives in 2020-21 and 2021-22 mixed — the Seagulls may need already made the leap from plucky and enjoyable mid-table almost-rans to a membership that has a professional likelihood at difficult for European locations. So in that sense, Brighton’s efficiency this season could possibly be seen as a continuation of the membership’s multi-year ascent below Potter. 

There’s only one drawback: Potter is gone now. 

Sure, to the detriment of Albion followers throughout the globe — or possibly they only exist on England’s South Coast? — Potter jumped ship earlier this month for the a lot sexier (and way more profitable) confines of Chelsea and Stamford Bridge. Brighton managed to interchange Potter with Italian supervisor Roberto De Zerbi, whose Sassuolo staff — a equally small and overachieving membership in Italy’s Serie A — punched above its weight throughout his tenure. However shedding an era-defining supervisor through the center of the season isn’t supreme, whatever the high quality of the alternative, so it’s not unreasonable to marvel what sort of an impact the swap can have on Brighton going ahead. 

Thus far this season, Brighton is taking part in a number of the finest soccer in England, a lot in order that the FiveThirtyEight Membership Soccer Predictions give it a 24 % likelihood of qualifying for the Champions League — by far one of the best odds for any membership exterior of the standard Huge 6. And never for nothing, Brighton at the moment sits within the prime 25 of all membership soccer groups on the planet — two positions larger than Man United — in keeping with the FiveThirtyEight Soccer Energy Index. In different phrases, the expertise is there. If De Zerbi can decide up the place Potter left off, Brighton may need a puncher’s likelihood at one thing it’s by no means performed in its historical past — qualifying for Europe. 

To make sure, the lack of Potter is a blow for Brighton. It’s not that way back that the Seagulls had been struggling to stay within the prime flight below his predecessor Chris Hughton, not to mention dreaming in regards to the High 4. Its first-ever season within the Premier League — 2017-18 — was undistinguished at finest and ignominious at worst. The Seagulls couldn’t rating; the Seagulls couldn’t defend; the Seagulls narrowly escaped being relegated as rapidly as they had been promoted. 

Brighton’s second season within the Premier League was even worse than its first, and culminated in Hughton’s sacking. Although the Seagulls completed seventeenth and staved off relegation by a measly 2 factors, Hughton — a Republic of Eire and Tottenham Hotspur legend throughout his taking part in days — managed to safe simply 11 factors from January 1, 2019, by way of the tip of the marketing campaign. Brighton was secure, however Hughton’s job finally was not. In stepped Potter, who modified the tenor of the membership’s total historical past. Now that he has departed, an enormous query looms over Brighton’s season: Can De Zerbi preserve it going?

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