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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Premier League preview 2018/19 - Brighton: Finding goals the worry for Hughton

Richard Jolly is analysing all 20 teams competing in the Premier League and giving his verdict on how they will fare. Here he looks at Brighton and their chances of avoiding second season syndrome

Alireza Jahanbakhsh is Brighton's record signing. Reuters
Alireza Jahanbakhsh is Brighton's record signing. Reuters

State of play: Brighton secured survival in spectacular style, clinching their Premier League place by beating Manchester United.

Yet, while struggling to score on the road, they also did so with great solidity in a campaign that mirrored manager Chris Hughton’s professionalism and low-key competence.

That may have camouflaged the level of Brighton’s spending and they have been ambitious investors again, bringing in Nigeria defender Leon Balogun, Romania striker Florin Andone, Mali midfielder Yves Bissouma, the versatile Brazilian Bernardo and club record buy Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a £17 million (Dh81.1m) acquisition from AZ Alkmaar, in a bid to upgrade an organised, united but limited side.

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Read more

Premier League 2018/19 preview: Team-by-team guide and predictions

Premier League transfer window: all the new signings for 2018/19 season

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Key player: Pascal Gross – One of Brighton’s cheapest buys last season ranked as one of the season’s best by any club. Gross cost just £2.7 million (Dh12.8m) and registered seven goals and eight assists as a No 10 last season. It was fitting he scored the goal to keep Albion up; without him, they would have lacked creativity.

A post shared by Pascal Gross (@pascalgross13) on

Manager: Chris Hughton – One of the most underrated managers, Hughton has an excellent record. The concern may be that Brighton only won twice away from home last season and that his second season at the top flight with Norwich City, which culminated in relegation, was problematic. He must hope history does not repeat itself.

Talking point: Who will get the goals? Glenn Murray was possibly last season’s greatest overachiever. Only nine players scored more top-flight goals than the veteran of the lower leagues, who turns 35 in September. A repeat is unlikely.

Yet Hughton feels aware of it. One forward, Jurgen Locadia, arrived in January. Then he brought in Andone, scorer of 12 goals in Primera Liga in 2016-17, and Jahanbakhsh, the 21-goal top scorer in the Eredivisie last season.

Yet none of that amounts to a guarantee they will be prolific and history suggests a side with at least one regular scorer stands a much better chance of staying up.

Prediction: 18th.

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