Steve Bailey: Albion’s performance gives cause for optimism

Tomer Hemed on the run against Manchester City. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Tomer Hemed on the run against Manchester City. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Despite the defeat, Saturday’s match with Manchester City will live long in the memory for Albion fans.

The club’s first-ever match in the Premier League and first game in the top flight of English football for 34 years ended in a 2-0 defeat in front of a Amex record crowd of 30,415 but there were positives for Brighton to take.

With the quality in City’s squad, all Seagulls fans knew before the game taking anything from the match would be a bonus.

A line was trotted out throughout the weekend that the full-backs City signed this summer – Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo – cost more than the Amex Stadium. It showed just what the Seagulls were up against.

The Manchester giants had a host of world-class players in their squad and their bench, which included academy youngster Phil Foden, cost a total of £200.4m.

After keeping City out for 70 minutes, Brighton were punished for two small mistakes, which they’d have got away with in the Championship. Dale Stephens had his pocket picked by Kevin De Bruyne on the halfway line, he fed David Silva who played in Sergio Aguero and the Seagulls were behind.

When Albion then made a mess of clearing their lines five minutes later, Lewis Dunk headed Fernandinho’s cross into his own net. That type of Premier League quality, particularly for the first goal, is something Albion have not come up against in recent years, with their previous match against that level of opposition Arsenal in the FA Cup in January, 2015.

Brighton will not come up against that quality every week, though, and the next five matches – Leicester, Watford, West Brom, Bournemouth and Newcastle – are where they need to pick up points.

A resolute and hard-working defensive performance gives cause for optimism. Albion need to continue to be hard to break down with their two banks of four and take any chances that come their way.

Defensively, the team will be solid enough this season. It’s at the other end where Albion fans have been wondering where enough goals are going to come from to keep the team up.

Columbian winger Jose Izquierdo’s impending arrival will give the team more pace and creativity and the team already has other exciting attacking options in Anthony Knockaert, Solly March and Pascal Gross.

Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed will share the lone striker ‘number nine’ role for the time being but with Sam Baldock still out with a calf injury, a nippy little striker is probably what the Seagulls are lacking.

When Manchester City had possession on Saturday, all their players apart from keeper Ederson were inside the Albion half. A fast-paced striker would have pushed City back and helped Brighton get out of their own half and clear their lines.

Seagulls boss Chris Hughton said he took more positives than negatives from Saturday’s game and the team will head to Leicester on Saturday still confident.

It’s obvious Albion need to get points on the board quickly, just to quell any doubts from fans and to build confidence.

When you look at the results last weekend, it shows any team, on their day, can beat any other in the Premier League. There’s no reason why Albion can’t be celebrating their first point – or more – on Saturday evening.

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