Brighton & Hove Albion are having a season for the ages under Italian coach Roberto De Zerbi. They did not seem to be in the right course after the exit of Graham Potter to Chelsea, as he was the one who provided with both stability and a solid playing style to the squad.
However, the Italian coach managed to keep that playing style and even improve the performing from several players that will certainly be watched by the big fishes, as one of the qualities from this team is to sign young and unknown players and then make them top ones, as that is the case of Kaoru Mitoma, Moisés Caicedo or Julio Enciso, and previously Leandro Trossard and Ben White.
The ‘Seagulls’ usually play on a 4-3-3 system, which is different to the three defenders and two full backs draw that Potter used to display, but the tactical aspects are very similar: high pressing after losing the ball, defensive line forward and, specially, always playing the ball from backwards.
Captain Lewis Dunk is a key player for this, as he is a tough defender on air balls, but very overrated on his playing with the ball abilities, as according to FBREF, he attempts more short passes per game than the 98% of central defenders in the top five leagues.
Another key piece at playing the ball from backwards is Ecuadorian Moisés Caicedo, who has confirmed his establishment in professional football after the outstanding season he had last year, which has made him to become one of the best midfielders in England only at the age of 21.
Moisés is not only an ‘octopus’ defensively who gets to steal all the 50/50 balls, but he is also a fantastic passer and has a top taking of the ball, which are features that have made clubs such as Arsenal and Chelsea to keep an eye on him, as they almost signed him last winter. He is likely to leave this summer and he will also leave a great amount of money at the club.
De Zerbi’s midfield is showing an outstanding level and several players from that area are expected to be signed by bigger fishes. Just as Caicedo, Mac Allister is a key piece at the Italian’s system, and a total player that has the ability to score multiple goals for a midfielder (he has scored eight goals so far this season in the Premier League). The World Champion already has multiple top offers on the table and he is likely to leave as well next summer.
The arrival of De Zerbi to Brighton has also benefited other players that are boosting. One of them is Solly March, who has finally established himself in the starting XI and is showing a fantastic level playing on the right wing and making diagonal runs to shoot on his left foot.
March has scored seven goals and given seven assists as well in the Premier League so far this season and he has already started in more games this season than in the previous one, which proves that the arrival of the Italian coach has helped him out.
But the revelation player of the season, not only for Brighton but in the entire league, is Japanese Kaoru Mitoma. A dribbling winger with speed and talent that make the difference.
He has scored seven goals and given five assists in the Premier League and, according to FBREF, he makes more progressive runs than the 94% of wingers in the top five leagues, which shows that his dribbling is pretty effective. In fact, Kaoru made his final degree project on the different dribbling types and its successful percentage in order to graduate on Physical and Sports Science. A truly dribbler.
Apart from the already mentioned players, there are other talents at Brighton. That is the case of Julio Enciso, who is starting to join the team at the age of 19 and last weekend he scored an astonishing goal at Stamford Bridge.
Another outstanding appearance is Evan Ferguson, who has already scored four goals and given two assists at the age of 18 in a team whose strikers have not performed their best recently, as that is the case of Neal Maupay or Deniz Undav himself, who has only scored one goal in the Premier League so far.
We are ahead of a very young team that seems to be getting a lot of money next summer and with a very attractive playing style that makes it worth it to pay for a ticket to watch. All in all, a fun football that certainly also attracts several players from other teams to join in.
In this context, most of the young players are likely set to take a step forward, but we must also keep an eye on the movements that they might make in the summer transfer market, as the performing from the players is certainly improved at Brighton.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @OfficialBHAFC.