Brighton Must Find Cutting Edge to Build on Solid Foundations

Adam Lallana, Ben White, Neal Maupay
Brighton were made to pay for the inefficiency in front of goal | Pool/Getty Images

It’s been a weird start to the season for Brighton.

They had picked up just four points prior to Monday’s fixture with West Brom, but had impressed in each due to their patient possession-based style and a couple of impressive performers, most notably right wing back Tariq Lamptey.

An opening day defeat to Chelsea seemed a little harsh as the Blues clicked into gear via a Reece James screamer, while the Seagulls hit the woodwork a remarkable five times – a Premier League record – with Leandro Trossard accounting for three of them.

Victor Lindelof, Leandro TrossardVictor Lindelof, Leandro Trossard
Leandro Trossard struck the woodwork three times against Manchester United | Pool/Getty Images

They came away from Goodison Park having been given the runaround by Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton and only salvaged a draw at Crystal Palace in injury time courtesy of substitute Alexis Mac Allister’s deflected strike.

They had over 65% of possession in that fixture and also took 20 shots to Palace’s one, which was Wilfried Zaha’s penalty.

It’s clear to see that, as noble as that patient approach is, the Seagulls have an issue converting their dominance into goals and, more importantly, points.

For that reason, a game at home to West Brom – who have struggled so far this season, failing to win any of their five Premier League games before Monday night – was a good indicator for what they might reasonably hope to achieve this term.

But against the Baggies, it was a familiar story.

Firstly, Neal Maupay strayed offside when he really ought to have stayed in line, meaning the shot he cannoned into the top left corner was chalked off. Moments later a fine counter attack involving Leandro Trossard and Adam Lallana needed just the finishing touch applied by Maupay, but the Frenchman struck his effort just too close to Baggies goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

Just before the half hour mark, Solly March’s low cross just evaded Maupay’s feet, denying Brighton the goal their dominance had warranted. Same old story.

But sometimes you just need a little luck in front of goal, and Graham Potter’s side got exactly that, though it was reward for some excellent build-up play throughout the first half.

The Seagulls worked the ball nicely down the right, a ricochet saw the ball fall to Tariq Lamptey who fired it across goal, an attempted Branislav Ivanovic clearance hitting Jake Livermore in the face and going in. Pretty terrible defending all in all, but the slice of fortune Brighton needed to hit the front.

For the neutral, there’s a lot to like about Brighton. They’re patient with their build-up, always probing for that first opening. The players they have in the attacking third are nice to watch, with Lallana, Trossard and Maupay all blessed with quick and neat feat. It’s just their problem with that final pass which is particularly frustrating.

West Brom weren’t much of a threat. They got shots away, but always looked like the struggling side as the Seagulls popped the ball around. But with only a one goal advantage, there’s always the chance of a sucker punch, and that’s exactly what happened when Karlan Grant struck.

Brighton have to find that next level. Goals off the faces of badly positioned opposition players won’t edge you into the top half of the Premier League, and neither will taking your foot off the gas for half an hour.

It’s another point for the Seagulls, but with only five on the board in six games, Potter’s side need to find that cutting edge.

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