Brighton are in a very interesting position at the moment. After being promoted to the Premier League in 2018, they’ve managed to survive by 7 points and 2 points respectively in those two seasons.
This journey has all been under the stewardship of Chris Houghton, who was sacked at the end of last season following a 17th-placed finish.
This plays into the air of uncertainty around Brighton at the moment. His replacement is Graham Potter, who’s actually one of the more exciting young English coaches around, but has no Premier League or relative top-level experience.
So, what can we expect from Brighton in the 19/20 FPL season? Let’s take a look at how they’ve fared in pre-season, the signings they’ve made, as well as their biggest potential FPL assets.
Expected Lineup + Formation
Looking at their pre-season so far, it seems that Brighton may well line up in a 3-4-3 formation.
Looking at the team that played against Valencia, they set out in this system with Locadia and new signing Trossard flanking Murray up front. This was also the case in their 4-0 win against Birmingham, with the front 3 remaining the same.
Brighton set up in a 4-2-3-1 to kick off pre-season, but this seemingly successful move to a 3-4-3 may stick for GW1. If that is the case, this is the lineup we can expect to see:
The main addition to the side would be Leandro Trossard, essentially a replacement for Knockaert who was shipped off on loan to Fulham.
Another key change would be captain Lewis Dunk, who has been heavily linked with Leicester as the heir to ‘slabhead”s throne in their defence, who is off to Manchester United.
We’ve seen Solly March take up a left wing-back role, with Martin Montoya taking the same spot over on the right-hand side.
During their time in the Premier League so far, the majority of set pieces have been taken by Pascal Groß. He took 61 corners last season, with Knockaert taking 46 and March taking 38.
Groß also set up 21 shot assist from set plays, the most of any Brighton player. Knockaert wasn’t far behind with 17, while March racked up 9.
In terms of what this season holds, Groß is likely to be the main set-piece taker, though that depends on if he’s on the pitch or not – his place isn’t guaranteed. This is especially the case if they remain in this new 3-4-3 system.
With him not on the pitch, and Knockaert having left out on loan, set piece duty has moved over to new signing Trossard, taking free kicks and corners in pre-season.
Further word on this can be confirmed by Charlie Benny, Brighton season ticket holder who has been giving his thoughts on Brighton throughout preseason:
“Worth noting that our new signing Leandro Trossard (£6.0 million) got 3 assists vs Birmingham, and looks to be on set-piece duty when Groß isn’t playing.“
— Charlie Benny (@CharlieBenny25) July 30, 2019
Watford (A), West Ham (H), Southampton (H), Man City (A), Burnley (H), Newcastle (A), Chelsea (A), Spurs (H), Aston Villa (A), Everton (H)
Brighton’s first 10 fixtures are somewhat of a mixed bag, though they have a solid opening 6 fixtures in particular.
They play 3 of last seasons top 4 within these opening fixtures, including trips away to Man City and Chelsea as well as a home game against Spurs.
Their easier fixtures are quite promising, but aren’t entirely rosy, either. Everton, Burnley and West Ham have the potential to improve from how they got on last season. That may be down to either further investment or, in Burnley’s case, not having to traipse around Turkey and Greece in August for Europa League games.
That being said, they may well be worth a punt for those opening few fixtures. These potentially trickier games all come at home – generally where Brighton have been able to get the lion’s share of their points in recent years – this was especially the case in the 17/18 season, where they had the 8th best home record while also claiming the worst away record in the league.
Even looking at last season, a particularly rough one for them, Brighton had an xGA (Expected Goals Against – check out this guide to Expected Goals for more info) of 37.05 away from home (6th worst in the league), compared to 25.41 at home (11th best in the league).
What About the Manager?
So, as it was mentioned earlier – Brighton have a new gaffer. This will play a massive part in how they get on in terms of their upcoming season and general FPL prospects.
Graham Potter is known for being more of an attack-minded manager, stemming from his time at both Östersund and Swansea.
With the former, he played a 3-at-the-back system more often than not, focusing around possession. He took them from the Swedish fourth division all the way up to the top flight, even winning the Swedish equivalent of the FA Cup – the Svenska Cupen – along the way.
His lone season at Swansea saw them finish tenth, respectable considering the number of outgoing players in the summer and the relative lack of money put back into the side.
Here, Swansea largely used a 4-2-3-1, a system used by Brighton in preseason before adopting a 3-4-3.
That being said, he switched things up a fair bit last season, deploying a number of different systems. This can potentially make Brighton more of an attacking force, providing more FPL potential aside from Ryan, Duffy, Dunk, and occasionally Murray.
In terms of the stats, Swansea as a team created the 5th most key passes per game (10.6) in the Championship last season, were 2nd for average possession (56%), 8th for average shots per game (13.4), and 1st for average passes per game (537). These go towards backing up the focus on possession, though they ended up with 65 goals scored – the 10th best in the league.
In Experimental 3-6-1’s statistical breakdown of the 18/19 Championship season, they fared well with regards to the more underlying statistics, averaging roughly 1.5 Expected Goals per game, as well as roughly 1.3 Expected Goals Against.
It’ll be interesting to see how this changes as Potter makes the step up to the Premier League with Brighton.
FPL Assets to Consider
So, with all of this in mind, which assets should we consider for Brighton this upcoming FPL season? Here are a few which stand out:Embed from Getty Images
Leandro Trossard (MID, 6.0m): Brighton’s brightest spark would be their new signing Trossard, who comes in at the mid-priced midfield punt price of 6.0m.
The 24-year-old Belgian winger scored 11 goals (in 24 matches) in the Belgian league last season, while also scoring 3 and setting up another in 6 Europa League games, essentially all from the left wing.
He’s been put straight into the starting 11, most recently starting as part of a front 3, to the left of Murray.
He’s taken over set-piece duty while Groß has been off the pitch, and has picked up 1 goal and 3 assists in pre-season so far. He’s probably the most interesting choice, coming in at a relatively cheap price and off the back of a solid goal-scoring season.
Last season’s Triple Captain extraordinaire Shane Duffy has had the following to say about Trossard:
“He is one we are all very excited for. He has impressed in training. He is maybe a little bit different to what we had.”
Martin Montoya (DEF, 4.5m): We all love a wing-back, don’t we? If Brighton stick to their 3-4-3 system, it seems as if Montoya has that spot nailed down. He’s started 3 of Brighton’s 4 pre-season games, with one of those starts being at right-back.
There’s not much to go off of from last season, though the accuracy of his crossing is the main standout.
Glenn Murray (FWD, 6.0m): Despite turning 36 later this year, Glenn Murray manages to keep cropping up as an FPL option. He’s scored 25 Premier League goals in the last 2 seasons, being Brighton’s main outlet up front and their primary penalty taker.
In an odd market for forwards this season, he could be a potential early punt due to Brighton’s fixtures, as well as the implementation of VAR in the Premier League.
This could potentially lead to more penalties, with the trickery of Trossard and the inanity of the handball rule these days, we could see some returns for aul’ Glenn.