Brighton & Hove Albion embarked on their fourth successive Premier League campaign during the 2020/21 season, with the notion of comfortably escaping any relegation doubts perhaps the ultimate objective.
Brighton & Hove Albion Season Review
Lack of Points in 2020
Last season’s 15th-place finish seemingly gave Graham Potter’s side a platform to build on, but a run of just two wins from their opening ten games confined fans to a survival line of thinking once more. A further eight games without a win prompted serious doubt amongst the Brighton faithful – a run of form that ran them dangerously close to the dreaded relegation zone.
A small selection of fans began to lose patience with Potter during this time, but the attack-minded yet distinct style of football that the former Swansea City man was implementing at the Amex stadium started to encourage fans.
Brighter Turn of the Year
However, momentum could not be maintained and three consecutive defeats followed, with two of these losses forced by a late opposition winner. This once again left the Seagulls in an unfavourable 17th position, a mere three points above the relegation zone.
A run-in that included four wins, three draws, and four defeats propelled Potter’s men away from the diminishing battle in what was the relegation scrap and brought Brighton up to 16th position whilst accumulating 41 points – the same as last season.
Remarkably enough, in their fourth season in the Premier League, it was the fourth successive time that the Seagulls won a total of nine league games. Despite their 16th-place finish being the second-worst position since joining the top tier, Brighton scored their record amount of Premier League goals (40) whilst conceding their fewest (46).
The attentions of many were turned to Ben White this season, and questions were asked about whether he could replicate his fine form in the Championship in the higher division. White has become an integral part of Brighton’s back-line this year and his performances are enough to suggest that he has a very bright future ahead of him, however, it is once again Lewis Dunk who has particularly stood out.
As ever, the 29-year-old was linked with a move away ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, but putting pen to paper in August, Dunk extended his stay at the Amex for another five years. As well as being the rock that the Premier League has come to expect in recent years, his leadership and ball-playing capabilities have helped him emerge as one of the finest English centre-backs in the division.
In the midfield, Yves Bissouma has proved to be a smooth operator in Brighton’s midfield. The Malian international has caught the attention of Europe’s elite with consistently classy performances, and the demand around the 24-year-old could lead to a summer move.
It seems to get to the next level, scoring goals will be an area of prioritisation. Although it was a season in which they broke their top-tier goalscoring record, there really should have been a lot more. The Seagulls finished the season with the fourth-worst conversion rate in the division (6.1%) and Neal Maupay’s total of eight league goals was the lowest number of goals scored by the club’s top scorer since Dunk’s manic golden boot award during the 2014/15 season (7).
Whilst Maupay did show glimpses of excellence during last season, consistency and returning a double-digit goal tally will become the 24-year-old’s ultimate objectives next year. The Frenchman did form a decent partnership with Danny Welbeck, who has seemingly revitalised his career on the south coast, but his fine form in the Premier League run-in may just catch the attention of divisional rivals.
Brighton & Hove Albion Season Review: Lessons That Will Need to be Learned
The key takeaway from this is that Brighton are a progressive, forward-thinking club that have a manager at the helm who will have some seriously high aspirations.
The Seagulls once again recorded a Premier League high of 14 draws, and turning just some of those into wins would have drastically improved their league position. Adding to that, 11 out of Brighton’s 15 defeats were by a one-goal deficit, further emphasising the narrow margins of football.
This coupled with Brighton’s comparatively low conversion rate suggests that a proven striker at this level could and probably should bolster their chances of breaking into the top ten.
Brighton also possess the youngest squad in the Premier League. The fact that Potter has a high number of top-quality options who are under 25 is another indication that the only is way is forward for the south-coast club next season.
The 2021/22 campaign provides Brighton with a brilliant opportunity to progress. It will be their fifth Premier League season and Potter will be hopeful of establishing his Brighton side in the top half of the table.