Five things we learned from Brighton's frustrating defeat against Wolves

After an incredible start to the season, Brighton fans had a European dream... and who could blame them?

Brighton failed to test José Sá as Wolves saw out a 1-0 win at the Amex (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Brighton failed to test José Sá as Wolves saw out a 1-0 win at the Amex (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)

But now they are well truly back down to earth with a bump.

Romain Saïss' goal on the stroke of half-time was enough to earn Wolves a 1-0 win at the Amex tonight — condemning the hosts to an eleventh straight game without a win.

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The result leaves Albion 13th in the table, level on 20 points with Brentford and Crystal Palace and nine points above the relegation place.

And with injury, illness and suspension problems mounting, things are not going to get much easier.

Here are five things we learned from from a frustrating night:

Connolly struggles for toothless Brighton

If ever a game showed the importance of Neal Maupay, this was it.

Although the Frenchman's value to Brighton has risen with his late heroics recently, it was his all-round play that his team missed against Wolves.

The best chances of the night fell to a midfielder in Enock Mwepu, whose glaring miss on the stroke of half-time summed up a frustrating evening.

Maupay's absence gave Aaron Connolly a great chance to make a statement to his manager with a rare starting berth.

But to be brutally honest, he didn't take it. He didn't have a great deal of service — with set pieces tonight particularly poor — but Connolly seemed to lack the energy, desire and a striker's instinct to get in the right areas.

Connolly didn't look happy when replaced by Alexis Mac Allister mid-way through the second-half. Some applauded but many wouldn't have been happy with how slowly he walked off when his team were behind.

Yet another game which has highlighted the obvious need for a new striker in January.

Confidence lacking

Not many would have come to watch this game expecting goals.

Albion had scored three in their previous five games, whilst Wolves had found the net just once in that time.

You would have thought Albion would have fancied their chances against a Wolves side, already struggling for goals, before the suspension on Raul Jimenez.

However, from the off, Brighton didn't look like they had the belief in the forward areas.

Brighton tried to use width to their advantage early on, with Tariq Lamptey keen to utilise his pace.

However, Albion largely failed to make the most of their pace in the wide positions and Lamptey struggled to get the better of Adama Traore in what was a rare, captivating battle.

Despite seeing more of the ball, Albion, in truth, barely threatened José Sá in the Wolves goal.

Marc Cucurella was largely anonymous, as was Solly March and Brighton's main attacking threat — Leandro Trossard.

It was perhaps a surprise to see Trossard start after he was stretchered off in the draw at Southampton and the Belgium forward was off the pace.

Although, he did nearly make a difference when his powerful shot was parried only as far as Mwepu, who somehow missed the target. It unfortunately tainted what was a positive and energetic first-half for the midfielder, who wasn't afraid to shoot from distance.

Bissouma booking adds to Potter's problems

Many were expecting a whole host of changes, with youth players involved, as Albion were facing seemingly endless injury, suspension and Covid problems in the build up to game. Potter even revealed afterwards that the club had requested for the game to be postponed.

It was in fact a very strong team that lined up, with Maupay the only noticeable new absentee.

Fans would have been pleased to see Yves Bissouma start in the middle of the park but he wasn't his usual, commanding, self that we have come to expect.

He lost a number of battles tonight and was at fault for the opening goal after his loose clearance found Ruben Neves.

He also earned a yellow card for a poor challenge in the second-half which rules him out of the trip to Manchester United, should it go ahead.

To add salt into the wound, Joel Veltman was seen limping down the tunnel and holding his hamstring at the final whistle.

Potter was asked in his post match interview if anyone would be ready to return at the weekend. He replied: "Shane Duffy back from suspension - that's it."

Make-shift defenders step up

It is difficult to find many positives from tonight but Potter would have been encouraged by the performances of Dan Burn and Veltman, who were mostly faultless and difficult to attack against.

The full-backs were deployed as centre-halves in the absence of captain Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster and Shane Duffy.

They were untroubled for nearly the whole of the first half, in which Wolves barely tested Rob Sanchez.

It was a harsh blow when the visitors took the lead — albeit avoidable by Bissouma — and they didn't deserve to be behind at the break.

Wolves turned the screw in the second half and had chances to add to their lead but Burn and Veltman looked assured at the back.

Brighton hindered by breaks in play

It's safe to say the match was not easy on the eye.

Brighton were unable to build up any momentum due to the constant stoppages, caused by technical problems with the referee's equipment and Wolves players taking their time to get back to their feet when fouled.

The long pause, early in the second half, when the referee was getting his equipment fixed, made an already frustrating night exasperating. Potter admitted in his interview that the stoppages 'didn't help'.

The 11 minutes added on at the end made it the longest match of the Premier League season so far — but that's probably the only thing it will be remembered for.

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