Pascal Gross was the most influential player as Brighton collected their first Premier League win against West Brom at the weekend. The German came in under the radar during the summer, but he already looks to be a great signing for the newly-promoted club. He is a player that was rated in Germany after two good years with Ingolstadt. The midfielder regularly impressed and he has now shown that he can replicate that form in England.
Against West Brom, he lined up in the number ten role as he provided a link between the midfield and Tomer Hemed. Chris Hughton has favoured a 4-4-2 formation since taking over as Brighton manager, but it would have been bold to stick with that in the Premier League. The tactical tweak he has made isn’t a major one, but it provides more balance to the team. Gross is expected to get forward and support the striker when the Seagulls are attacking, in addition to dropping back into midfield when the other side have the ball.
The eye-catching contribution were the two goals that the German scored to put his team into a dominant position in the game. He will admit that his first wasn’t the prettiest, as his effort was deflected into the goal, but it showed his awareness in the final third. Gross got forward to support the attack and found himself in the right place at the right time. It came just before half-time, which gave momentum to the home team to push on.
That is what happened after the break as Gross fired in a second from long range. It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing strike, as it remained on the floor. However, the placement was perfect and he found the bottom corner. The 26-year-old has a lot of confidence in his own ability and isn’t afraid to try to make things happen in the final third. Brighton need a player like this if they are to stay up this season.
Although the two goals will be what is remembered best from Gross’ performance, his link-up play was superb. He completed four key passes during the match, which was more than any other player on the pitch. The 26-year-old got the assist for the third goal as he found space on the wing to deliver a great cross into Hemed, who had the simple task of finishing the move off.
Brighton are going to face a fight against relegation and they will need time to adapt to the top-flight. It was important that they recruited well during the summer to give them the best chance of survival and Gross looks to be their best addition. He has given them the opportunity to change their formation and add a quality attacking option. The 26-year-old can score and create goals. The Seagulls will need him to do both consistently this season.