How have Glenn Murray's goals guided Brighton within touching-distance of promotion?
When Chris Hughton signed Glenn Murray on loan from Bournemouth in the summer, it was definitely seen as a statement of intent from Brighton to go one better than last season’s play off defeat. The former front man rejoined The Seagulls after a frustrating time with Eddie Howe’s side, and with the all time record for most Championship goals in one season (30).
Brighton strengthened significantly in the transfer window prior to the season starting, with the acquisitions of Murray, Steve Sidwell, Shane Duffy, Sebastien Pocognoli, Oliver Norwood and former Fox Anthony Knockaert. Before the season kicked off I’m sure the majority would’ve put their money on Glenn Murray to be around and about the top goal-scorers table come the end of the season, and with Christmas around the corner he is certainly living up to the expectation.
The noticeable thing about Murray, and ultimately what puts him on the pedestal as one of the most deadly, prolific, and effective strikers at this level, is that he scores the important goals. When his team looks to someone to step up, he more than often does so. His style of play is somewhat distinctive and also dissimilar to other top strikers in the league, he isn’t the same mould as the likes of Tammy Abraham, Dwight Gayle or Scott Hogan. His physicality, positioning and movement put together with his years of experience is what makes him just as good as the rest of the bunch.
The first goal of the season is always a big one, mainly to get the confidence and the finishing touch flowing through the veins of the striker, certainly something Murray has in abundance. The 33-year-old hit the back of the net just two games in, with a brace at home to Nottingham Forest in Brighton’s 3-0 victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras. He followed this up with a goal against Rotherham in another 3-0 win at The Amex.
Murray’s next goals came in the form of another brace at home to Barnsley, the striker taking a liking to scoring at home. He scored the only goals in the game to seal the three points and kickstart what would be an astounding run of form for him and also the team leading up to Christmas. October was a prolific month for the number 17, scoring against Preston North End, as well as a stunning hat trick over high flying Norwich, in Brighton’s 5-0 demolition of The Canaries.
The point made about Murray scoring the important goals is amplified with his contribution throughout November. Brighton trailed to Aston Villa 1-0, Murray struck to equalise and earn a point to stretch their unbeaten run. This was followed up with a 79th minute winner at home to Fulham eight days later, Brighton trailed 0-1 but the resilience and never say die attitude saw them turn the game on its head.
The televised games at home were proving to be a good combination for the Cumbrian born striker, Murray slotted home a penalty against an inform Leeds side in their 2-0 win. Sometimes a classic number nine has their finesse overlooked and dismissed, but Murray showed his confidence and panache with a lovely delicate chip at Ewood Park, in a 2-3 victory to keep just a point behind league leaders Newcastle.
It is only December, and the cliche of it isn’t about how you start it’s how you finish is certainly applicable to The Championship, but Brighton don’t strike me as the sort of team to crumble. The foundations are all there for them to have a season to remember, an excellent tight squad, a top manager, a solid backline and most importantly, a goalscorer.