Brighton and Hove Albion have not finished a Premier League season above 15th position, but tonight they could go top. The Seagulls face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park this evening knowing three points will take them above Liverpool into first.
Brighton’s five year Premier League spell has seen them finish in the bottom quarter in every campaign, but this year, five games in, the Seagulls are soaring in sixth.
Graham Potter is the man in charge and his team have had their highest Premier League points totals in consecutive seasons under the former Swansea boss.
In seasons past, they failed to take chances in crucial games and have lost after going ahead. This season, however, Brighton have turned their chances into goals, wins and points.
Brighton’s campaign opened with a 2-1 away win against Sean Dyche’s Burnley. Having gone down to an early goal, they scored two of their own in what was an early exercise in determination from Potter’s side.
They stayed resilient throughout the game, creating chances and shots on target while sticking with their plan to unlock a stubborn defensive outfit. It wouldn’t be the first time they’d need to see out a tight encounter.
The Seagulls’ contest against Brentford offered Potter’s men a completely different test. By now they had beaten Watford and lost to Everton and headed to a Brentford side known for their open football.
Brighton and Brentford played much of the game in a closely contested battle with both sides having minimal shots on target. The game was in the balance. That changed in the 90th minute when Leandro Trossard scored for the Seagulls to win it 1-0.
Earning three points from tight games has given Brighton belief. Where they might have tried to hold on for draws, they’re now actively looking for the win.
Leicester have built in the same way Brighton would want to, sustainably and successfully, and the Foxes posed Brighton’s biggest challenge yet when they travelled to the Amex Stadium a week ago.
Potter’s men showed their new found confidence and went two up through Neal Maupay and Danny Welbeck. Despite Jamie Vardy getting one back for the visitors, Brighton were able to close out the match, cementing the momentum behind them and Potter’s philosophy.
Tonight the Seagulls play Crystal Palace, with a win sending them top of the Premier League for the first time in their history.
The Seagulls may replicate Leicester and shock the footballing world; they may recede into the pit that is mid-table football. But what Brighton and Hove Albion have done, in just five games, is a lesson in taking chances and riding waves.