If you follow second division football in England you'll know that Brighton, a team once mocked for playing at the Withdean Stadium, a gloomy south coast sports facility that housed Brighton's football team between 1999-2011, infamous for an athletics track that covered the seating, have been on the rise in recent years. Since moving into The Amex it was only a matter of time before The Seagulls soared into the Premier League, and at last they achieved the aim with ease at the close of the 2016/17 EFL Championship season. Ultimately pipped to the Championship title by Newcastle on the final day, Brighton will no less play Premier League football for the first time. We're here to run down the club and its potential desirability in the Fantasy Premier League. All aboard.
If you're like us, wanting to know more about promoted clubs, and potential hidden gems for your Fantasy squad, we started yesterday by looking into Huddersfield's FPL potential. With Brighton about to be under the microscope, we'll also be looking into Newcastle in the coming days.
Stadium: Falmer Stadium (known as The Amex Stadium); 30,750 capacity
Current Manager: Chris Hughton
Captain: Bruno (right-back)
Preferred Formation under Hughton: 4-4-2
Set Piece Takers:
- Penalties: Glenn Murray, Tomer Hemed
- Direct Free Kicks: Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, Jiří Skalák, Markus Suttner has been touted as a set-piece specialist and we expect Pascal Groß to be involved also
- Corners and Indirect Free Kicks: Anthony Knockaert, Dale Stephens, Jiří Skalák, Markus Suttner, Pascal Groß
Brighton's 2016/17 Championship Statistics
- Position: 2nd
- Win/Draw/Loss Record: 28 wins, 9 draws, 9 losses
- Goals For/Against: 74 goals scored, 40 goals conceded (+34 overall goal difference, the second best difference in the Championship, behind Champion's Newcastle)
Goals: 74 (34 home, 22 away)
Clean Sheets: 21 from 46 matches (12 home, 9 away)
2016/17 Top Scorers:
- Glenn Murray (23 goals)
- Anthony Knockaert (15 goals)
- Sam Baldock (11 goals)
- Tomer Hemed (11 goals)
- Solly March (3 goals)
- Lewis Dunk (2 goals)
- Shane Duffy (2 goals)
- Dale Stephens (2 goals)
- Jamie Murphy (2 goals)
Team Discipline: 75 yellow cards, 5 red cards
- Lewis Dunk (12 yellows, 1 red)
- Anthony Knockaert (10 yellows, 0 red)
- Glenn Murray (7 yellows, 1 red)
- Bruno (7 yellows, 0 red)
- Dale Stephens (6 yellows, 1 red)
- Gaëtan Bong (5 yellows, 1 red)
- Shane Duffy (5 yellows)
Brighton's 2017/18 Premier League Signings
Pascal Groß [CM]: FC Ingolstadt 04 (Undisclosed)
Josh Kerr [RB]: Celtic (Undisclosed)
Mathew Ryan [GK]: Valencia (Undisclosed)
Markus Suttner [LB]: FC Ingolstadt 04 (Undisclosed)
Mathias Normann [CM]: Bodø/Glimt (Undisclosed)
Izzy Brown [CAM/CF]: Chelsea (loan)
Brighton aren't finished in the transfer market. They've been linked with forward Ashley Fletcher (WHU), Cardiff forward Kenneth Zohore, midfielder James McArthur (CRY), and defender Carl Jenkinson (ARS).
From what we have researched, Brighton are looking for more firepower up top as they relied heavily last season on the goals of Murray and the little magician Knockaert. A move for West Ham's £4.5m forward Ashley Fletcher might raise some eyebrows if it were to happen. Aside from striking positions it's clear that Hughton would also like another central midfielder and an auxiliary defender who can play central defender, or as a full-back.
Brighton's Pre-Season Fixtures and Results
14/07/2017: Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-2 Brighton (Murphy, Hemed)
22/07/2017: Crawley Town 0-6 Brighton (March, Gross, Hemed, Murphy, Goldson, Murray)
25/07/2017: Southend United 0-3 Brighton (March (2), Murray)
29/07/2017: Norwich City (Carrow Road)
01/08/2017: Girona FC (Nou Estadi Municipal de Palamos, Catalonia, Spain)
06/08/2017: Atletico Madrid (Amex Stadium)
How do Brighton play their football?
Brighton, and its manager Chris Hughton, are old-school football purists. Utilising a 4-4-2 system for most of last season, more attacking based players were played at the Amex, whilst the defensive stalwarts rotated away from home. At home, Brighton were prolific, winning 17 of their matches, more than any club in the division. They also kept more clean sheets than any other club, and in Glenn Murray had the joint 2nd top scorer in the entire division.
Brighton had a select handul of players that were mainstays in their squad - David Stockdale, Bruno, Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy (until injured), Dale Stephens, Anthony Knockaert, and Glenn Murray. Brighton then favoured rotating particular positions, such as left midfield, which saw a combination of Scottish international Jamie Murphy, 22 year-old Solly March, and Jiri Skalak, rotate the position.
Steve Sidwell and Oliver Norwood also were in and out of the central midfield spots, as was Israeli international Beram Kayal, a position that only Dale Stephens could really call his own. Central midfield is a position that Hughton has already strengthened with Mathias Normann's arrival. Brighton are also linked with James McArthur of Crystal Palace for a holding midfield role.
Most, if not all, of the regulars from last season will see game time. Glenn Murray is the pillar at the top, though with Brighton in the market for another forward, there is potential rotation, with Sam Baldock and Tomer Hemed, already striking options for the Seagulls.
With Hughton's system they are compact, organising depending on a home or away fixture, and with the introduction of Pascal Gross, may opt for a lone forward, with Gross operating in the number 10 position behind the likely forward of Glenn Murray.
Premier League sides Bournemouth (more attacking) and Burnley (more defensive) utilise a 4-4-2 system, so we'd put Brighton somewhere in the middle of Bournemouth's attacking intent, and Burnley's defensive solidarity, based off our observations of the squad last season, as they were pipped at the post to the Championship title by a last minute Jack Grealish strike.
Brighton's Premier League Fixture List
No game is ever easy in the Premier League, that much is a certainty, but for a Premier League game against Man City at home, the feeling is that Brighton have drawn the short straw. An opening Gameweek against a side pumped with more money in its defence that the United Kingdom puts into its own national defence programme, Man City are obvious favourites. Brighton will have to emulate Hull City of last season on the opening day, if they're to have a chance against one of the top six clubs.
Aside from the Man City fixture, like with all three promoted clubs, we see nothing but partially clear waters, where FPL points could be unearthed. A trip to Leicester isn't as daunting as it once was, and Watford are in transition with a new manager, only having stayed up last season due to the inability of the clubs around them to muster points. West Brom and Newcastle then visit the Amex in two potentially good fixtures for the club, with a tie to south coast rivals Bournemouth sandwiched in between. Then to round off their early fixtures, Brighton travel to their first major away game, at Arsenal, before taking on Everton, West Ham, and Southampton.
We've definitely seen a worst fixture list for rival Premier League clubs, and we think that there is FPL potential, especially with a potential defensive asset.
Assessing Brighton's FPL Options
Brighton are perhaps more familiar to the casual fan than Huddersfield in regards to name value of their players. Brighton were big features of the Championship last season, with their big guns in attack performing, and their defensive locking the door. With an interesting run of games we're narrowing down our potential FPL assets to a list of 5, which is 2 more than our Huddersfield article of the same name. What we've pinned is players in each position who we believe offer the points and the value that might make Brighton dark horses in the FPL.
GOALKEEPER: Matthew Ryan (£4.5m)
2016/17 Stats (for Valencia and Genk):
- Appearances: 19 (19 starts, 0 as a substitute; 1710 minutes played)
- Discipline: 0 yellows, 0 red
Will he play?: Matt Ryan is Brighton's new number one GK and their record signing, he's playing
Matthew Ryan enters the Premier League with Brighton as their record signing, determined to replace the shadow left behind by David Stockdale, who opted to join Championship side Birmingham, instead of taking a crack at England's top division. Ryan, previously of Valencia, has found it hard to come by game time since a move to La Liga, shipped out on loan in the second half of last season to Europa League side Genk.
With any promoted keeper the allure of their inclusion comes down to save points. Brighton are defensively drilled, keeping 21 clean sheets last season, with Stockdale in the sticks for 20 of those games. Brighton are defensively compact and will aim to stifle the wealth of options against clubs such as Man City. Hope for the Brighton keeper on the opening day having a respectable FPL ownership, currently sitting at 1.2%, is going to be non-existent due to Man City and their millions coming to town. Most expect Brighton to get a harsh introduction to life in the Premier League, but there is alwayys the potential for Ryan to make an impact on his league debut, with save potential at an all time high. Most teams don't keep clean sheets, and if it is saves you're looking for on the opening day, Brighton will be the best place to acquire them.
Ryan's price of £4.5m puts him into direct competition with Bournemouth's Asmir Begovic, West Brom's Ben Foster, and West Ham's Joe Hart, which means Ryan will classified as a differential when the season finally gets underway.
We're fans of Ryan and of Brighton's opening run of games, so it's an option to consider, and a definite starter that won't give you a Fantasy headache, if you decide to head down that route.
DEFENDER: Lewis Dunk (£4.5m)
- Appearances: 43 (43 starts, 0 as a substitute; 3743 minutes played)
- Goals: 2
- Assists: 1
- Clean Sheets: 21 from 43 matches
- Discipline: 12 yellows, 1 red
Position: Centre back
Will he play?: Yes, Lewis Dunk is a lock for Gameweek 1
Lewis Dunk, for years now, has been one of the most highly regarded defenders in the Championship. When Newcastle were last in the Premier League, before their eventual relegation, they were desperate for defensive reinforcements, with Lewis Dunk's name one that was echoed around the club's transfer rumours. Newcastle weren't the only potential suitors at the time, with teams such as West Brom, Bournemouth, and West Ham, all at one time linked with the central defender. Dunk has eventually made it to the Premier League without a transfer, and was an instrumental part of Brighton's promotion winning team.
Dunk's 43 appearances last season, and 2 goal haul, highlighted his necessity to the Brighton team, and to Hughton, who is yet to snap up another central defender, having the up most confidence in Dunk and regular defensive partner Shane Duffy, though Duffy suffered a fractured metatarsal that ruled him of 15 league games. Dunk is going to play most, if not every minute, as long as he is available for selection.
Based on the Bonus Points rankings, Lewis Dunk is going to be an influential figure for Brighton. One criteria, CBI's (clearances, blocks, and interceptions) had Dunk pitch in with 481 CBI's last season, which levels out at a CBI every 7.7 minutes. This would make him the number one defensive option in the Premier League if Dunk had registered an identical figure. Dunk then will be a smart move if you go for a Brighton defender as he'll most likely be in contention for bonus points.
There is a big potential downside though, which is his discipline record. Being in the wars on a weekly basis saw Dunk acquire 12 yellow cards and 1 red last season, more than any of his team-mates.
Dunk's the potential for an immediate FPL impact with Brighton's fixture list if you can muster the thought of him going toe-to-toe with Jesus and Aguero on the opening Gameweek.
DEFENDER: Markus Suttner (£4.5m)
2016/17 Stats (for Bundesliga side FC Ingolstadt 04):
- Appearances: 31 (31 starts, 0 as a substitute; 2737 minutes played)
- Goals: 3
- Assists: 5
- Discipline: 10 yellows, 0 red
Position: Left back or potentially left midfield
Will he play?: Hughton rates Suttner highly, so we think he'll start
Brighton's low-key signing of FC Ingolstadt 04 defender Marcus Suttner might not raise many eyebrows on the surface, especially for FPL players with little knowledge of Brighton and their transfer dealings. To enlighten you, Suttner is a 30 year-old Austrian international who battles Christian Fuchs for the left-back jersey of his country, and has played in the top divisions in both Austria for Austria Vienna, and in the Bundesliga for Ingolstadt. Last season Ingolstadt finished in 17th place in the Bundesliga and were relegated, but it didn't stop Suttner finders a quick suitor in Brighton, having scored four goals for his club side last season.
What's interesting, and why we've included Suttner in our list of Brighton players to keep an eye on in the FPL, is the comments that Chris Hughton has made since Suttner joined up with the Seagulls.
"He has a great level of experience internationally, and in the top divisions in both his native Austria and Germany...He has played the last two seasons with Ingolstadt, and that experience will serve us well. He will add competition at the back on the left side of defence, and I'm now looking forward to working with him.'
Suttner has already linked up with the Seagulls after joining from Ingolstadt and has already featured in pre-season matches for Brighton.
"He's a player that we followed for some time, whichever role we want him, whether it's defensive as a left-back or [he is] good going forward," Hughton added. "He certainly has a prowess when it comes to set-plays."
It appears as if Hughton is already considering handing some set-piece duty to Suttner, which might be very pleasing to FPL players looking for a hidden gem in defence. The main question is in regards to game time on the pitch, but given that Suttner has the relevant experience and could potentially play in a left midfield role, we think he'll line up, which then could pose serious questions about his FPL worth given that he might be creeping into set-piece scenarios. Knockaert isn't a lock for set-pieces, as he's also a keen header of the ball, having scored a dozen goals with late dashes into the box last season.
MIDFIELDER: Anthony Knockaert (£6.0m)
- Appearances: 45 appearances (44 starts, 1 as a substitute; 3793 minutes played)
- Goals: 15 (9 home, 6 away)
- Assists: 8 (3 home, 5 away)
- Discipline: 10 yellows, 0 red
Position: Right wing and occasional number 10
Will he play?: Yes, though he's had some injury concerns during pre-season that needs to be monitored until Gameweek 1
Anthony Knockaert is Brighton's MVP nicknamed the little magician. Earlier on in June we profiled Knockaert and his potential in the FPL. If you'd like to read a feature piece surrounding the French winger, you can do so below.
FORWARD: Glenn Murray (£6.0m)
- Appearances: 45 (39 starts, 5 as a substitute; 3447 minutes played)
- Goals: 23 (19 home, 4 away)
- Assists: 5 (3 home, 2 away)
- Discipline: 7 yellows, 1 red
Position: Centre forward
Will he play?: Murray's going to play, no doubt
FPL players should already be aware of the prowess and potential of Glenn Murray. On his day for Crystal Palace in particular, Murray sparked up a good relationship with Yannick Bolasie, now of Everton. Murray's a dominating forward in the second division, matching Dwight Gayle and Tammy Abraham for goals, but it should be noted that Gayle only started 26 games, compared to Murray's 39.
Murray is an imposing force, and has the favour of being on penalty kick duty for Brighton. With 11 Premier League goals to his name (8 for Palace, and 3 for Bournemouth), many expect Murray to start, or regularly feature, from the bench. We're not so sure of that critique until we're given a reason to think otherwise. Murray is the main man up top, and is one of only a few players with Premier League experience. Sam Baldock and Tomer Hemed, who rotated their partnership with Murray last season, will not be regulars. The only change in circumstance to Murray's position for Brighton as an FPL asset is if Hughton buys another forward in the summer transfer market, which as of writing, is a priority, for the club.
Murray's best inclusion into an FPL team would be utilising him as a 3rd forward in a 3-5-2 formation, with Murray playing home games. Of his 23 goals in the Championship last season, only 4 were scored away from home. Murray's a man to please the Amex faithful, and that's where his FPL points will be accumulated next season.
We recently joked that Murray might be in the Gameweek 1 Dream Team, with Man City's pricey defenders under the spotlight for their inability to defend. That may very well be the case, and the karma, of the situation, when Brighton entertain Man City in Saturday's late game during the first weekend of the season.
You can read more of our latest news from in the FPL, Premier League, and around the footballing world on our Football page by clicking here, or by clicking the image below.
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.
You can follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, or visit our website here at www.thehypetrain.co.uk