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Brighton and Hove Albion

How will the promoted teams fare in the Premier League this season?



Premier League

With the new Premier League season nearly upon us, it is only natural that attention is being drawn to the battle at the top of the table and the teams that are most likely to compete for the title.

It is always intriguing to see how the newly-promoted clubs fare, particularly as the majority of teams are either relegated in their first season or enjoy an elongated stay in the Premier League.

Since the 1995/96 season, when the play-off system was augmented to promote a third team from the Championship, 63 teams have gone up and completed a single season in the Premier League.

Of these, 47% have dropped back down after one year, while 18% have remained in place for more than five seasons, and this should offer even greater incentive for Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town to retain their top-flight status this term.

The question that remains, of course, is which of these teams will fare better on the intense battlegrounds of the Premier League? Let’s take a look?

Newcastle United

The Toon Army have endured something of a frustrating summer transfer window, as a big name signing has continued to elude manager Rafael Benitez. Aside from the confirmed signing of Jacob Murphy from Norwich City (which, according to Sky Sports, was agreed for a fee of £12 million), the club have so far been frustrated in their attempts to spend big and lure established names to St. James Park.

Talented winger Christian Atsu has joined on a permanent deal, while the signing of former Liverpool defender Javier Manquillo from Atletico Madrid will at least add some top-flight experience to the defensive unit. More reinforcements will be required for the Magpies to fulfill the expectations of their ambitious fan base, however, with Sky Sports suggesting that West Ham goalkeeper Adrian may be on the club’s radar after the Hammers signed Joe Hart on a season long loan.

The Standard has also reported that the Magpies are keen on signing out of favour Arsenal striker Lucas Perez, but are so far unwilling to match the Gunners’ £13.4 million valuation.

This sums up Newcastle’s frustrating summer, but they do at least boast a wealth of Premier League experience in the form of players such as Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame and Jack Colback, while in manager Rafa Benitez they have an outstanding coach with excellent top-flight pedigree.

This, along with the clubs’s passionate support and the immense promise of young Jacob Murphy, affords them a fighting chance of retaining their place in the Premier League come May.

Brighton & Hove Albion

The Gulls were fast out of the blocks at the start of the summer window, with the club announcing the signing of cultured German midfielder Pascal Gross from FC Ingolstadt on 19th May.

The club has completed a further eight deals since then, including the loan signing of the talented Izzy Brown from Premier League Champions Chelsea. Additionally, The Sun has also reported that manager Chris Hughton is preparing a club record £12 million bid for Leeds United striker Chris Wood, as he looks for a strong and powerful forward to lead the line.

Despite this activity, a quick glance at the Gulls’ squad confirms that the club is short of Premier League quality and experience. This is particularly evident in attack, where veteran Glenn Murray is the only forward who has scored regularly in the Premier League during his career.

Even the signing of Wood may not be enough to redress this balance, as while he has been prolific at Championship level he has only made three appearances in the top-flight as a youth player with West Bromwich Albion. A potential lack of goals could prove crucial for Brighton over the course of the season, as this can undermine even the most organised and hard-working of Premier League sides.

This was certainly the case with Middlesbrough last season, whose obvious technical and organisational qualities were overshadowed by a chronic lack of potency in front of goal.

Huddersfield Town

Finally, we come to play-off winners Huddersfield Town, who are undoubtedly this season’s  wild card when it come to Premier League football. Not only were 12 of the 24 play-off winners between 1991 and 2015 relegated after their first season in the top-flight, for example, but the Terriers also boast two fascinating X-factors in the form of their playing style and manager David Wagner.

Wagner, who was mentored by Jurgen Klopp during his tenure as the manager of Borussia Dortmund’s reserve side in Germany, has installed an attacking style and intense pressing game on the Terriers and will look to continue this philosophy in the Premier League. This is reflected by his nine summer signings, as while there is a dearth of established top-flight talent Wagner has secured the services of fast and energetic players such as Tom Ince (who transferred from Derby).

The confirmed signing of former Manchester City loanee and last season’s player of the year Aaron Mooy is also a huge coup for the Terriers, as Wagner continues to build a side that can implement his expansive style of play.

Such an approach makes it hard to gauge how Huddersfield will perform in the Premier League, as the execution of their style and the intensity of their play will be all important. The Terriers may struggle against superior opposition (as was the case during their 5-1 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium during a fifth round FA Cup replay last season), but the question that remains is whether they can impose their will and overcome the less accomplished sides in the division.

One thing is for sure, Huddersfield will bring huge value with them and are likely to ruffle at least a few feather during their Premier League stay.

I am a passionate sports fan and football writer from the UK, with particular knowledge of the English Premier League.

Brighton and Hove Albion

Rodrigo reported as Brighton target, but he is surely too expensive?

The Valencia striker is reportedly wanted by a trio of Premier League clubs.



Photo: Getty Images

Brighton, along with Tottenham Hotspur and Everton have been linked with a move for Valencia forward Rodrigo this summer.

Calciomercato claims that all three clubs are interested in signing the Spanish international come the summer. The report discloses his massive €120 million (£105.4 million) release clause, but that offers in the region of €40 million (£35 million) are expected.

Which is surely when the links to Brighton have to stop.

Rodrigo, who had a spell at Bolton Wanderers as a young player on loan from Benfica, would be a tremendous signing for Brighton.

(Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

The 22-year-old has scored 16 goals in 35 games for Los Che this season. Such form could see him earn a place in Spain’s squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Brighton, however, simply cannot afford such a massive sum of money on one player, especially considering the club recently broke their record to sign Dutch striker Jurgen Locadia.

According to the Guardian, that fee was around £14 million. Paying more than double that on Rodrigo is simply inconceivable.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It would immediately undermine the money they spent on Locadia, who arrived from PSV Eindhoven and leave very little in the kitty to improve other areas of the team this summer.

Rodrigo would undoubtedly be a dream signing for Brighton. The Seagulls look increasingly safe in the Premier League and bringing in a top name this summer would be a popular move among fans at the Amex Arena.

But simply put, £35 million is just not a figure Brighton can or should pay for just one player. Instead, such money should be spread out throughout the team evenly. Distributing the funds in this way will allow Brighton to fully strengthen their side and maintain the balance that has taken them to a brilliant first Premier League campaign.

There might come a day when Brighton can afford to splurge £35 million on just one player. That day, however, will not be in 2018.

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Brighton and Hove Albion

Is Brighton’s Christian Walton a future England star?

The 22-year-old stopper has been in fine form at Wigan Athletic.



Wigan Athletic’s FA Cup run has come to an end. The Latics lost 2-0 against Southampton at the DW Stadium, despite being the better team in the first-half. However, Southampton came alive in the second period and goals from Pierre Hojbjerg and Cedric Soares settled the tie.

It could have been more, were it not for a brilliant penalty save from Wigan goalkeeper Christian Walton. He dived to his left and got a strong palm to a driven effort from 12 yards by Manolo Gabbiadini. Unbelievably, Walton managed to get enough on the ball to turn it around the post and keep Wigan in the tie.

It was a brilliant save in what was another excellent performance from the young stopper. So do Brighton and Hove Albion have a future star on their hands?

Walton is on loan at Wigan from Brighton until the end of the season. It is the fifth loan spell of Walton’s career after similar spells at Bury, Plymouth Argyle, Luton Town and Southend United.

The 22-year-old’s brilliant performance v Southampton was no anomaly. He was in fine form in Wigan’s recent famous win against Manchester City.

Brighton clearly know they have a top talent on their hands, yet Chris Hughton has not yet pulled the trigger on the player.

In the summer, when Brighton lost number one David Stockdale to Birmingham City, Hughton signed two new keepers. Australian international Mat Ryan arrived from Valencia whilst Tim Krul was a free transfer from Newcastle United.

(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

But Brighton did secure Walton to a new deal, keeping him at the Amex Arena until 2021. With Krul’s deal ending at the end of the season, perhaps Walton will be in line to be the Seagulls second-choice keeper from next season.

England currently have something of a concern regarding the goalkeeper position but the future is bright. Sam Johnstone, Freddie Woodman and Angus Gunn look like top talents and Walton must be included in the same company.

Not only an excellent shot-stopper, but Walton is confident coming off his line and good with the ball at his feet.

The competition is certainly fierce, with the likes of Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope also potential future England goalkeepers.

But Walton might just be in with a shout of such accolades in the future as well if he can find his way at Brighton.

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Brighton and Hove Albion

Manager of the Month: Can Chris Hughton now play out a dream season with Brighton?

The Brighton boss was recently crowned February Manager of the Month.

Jake Jackman



Chris Hughton
Photo: Getty Images

Chris Hughton has not received a huge amount of exposure for the job that he is doing with Brighton, but back-to-back Premier League wins have seen the Seagulls rise to 10th position in the table and he has subsequently been rewarded with the February Manager of the Month award.

As a newly-promoted team, they will have targeted survival. Although it remains tight at the bottom, it would take a considerable drop-off for the South Coast team to suffer relegation, especially following an unbeaten run throughout the last month.

But Hughton won’t be getting too far ahead of himself. After all, his team squandered a seven-point lead with three games to go in the Championship last season.

That said, he has done a tremendous job at the Amex Stadium and gone a long way to proving those that doubted him wrong. Hughton is seen as one of the nicest men in football and a safe pair of hands, but he hasn’t always convinced as a Premier League manager.

His first spell in charge of a top-flight club was at Newcastle United. Hughton led them back to the Premier League at the first attempt and the team were in 11th position when he was dismissed. It was considered harsh at the time and even Magpies owner Mike Ashley has admitted since that it was a mistake in an interview with Sky Sports:

“I thought I was very unfair to Chris Hughton, who got us promoted, I don’t think I gave him enough time.”

Hughton was well liked by both the players and supporters at Newcastle. He pulled the club together after the disaster of relegation and managed to win the Championship with ease. Considering it was his first job in management, he was thrown straight into a difficult job and coped well with it. The sacking has unfairly put a black mark on his record and he has been trying to erase it ever since.

The next Premier League he was given was at Norwich City and he fared okay with the Canaries. During his first season, he led them to 11th position. Considering their relative stature in the game, that is a great achievement. However, the style of play was bland and supporters were quick to turn on him in the following season.

The club sacked him with five matches to go in the 2013/14 campaign with the club lying five points above the relegation zone. It was a strange decision, especially as Neil Adams was chosen to take over with no experience of top-flight management. Norwich were relegated that season. They may have faced the same fate had they kept faith in Hughton, but they would have had a better chance of survival.

How he has enhanced his reputation at Brighton

Despite doing a decent job with Norwich before dismissal, Hughton had to drop a division to take his next job and it was with Brighton and Hove Albion. The Seagulls were in 21st position at the time after the poor tenure of Sami Hyypia, but the potential was obvious.

The facilities were great and the new stadium was built with Premier League football as the target. The club had challenged at the top for a number of years previous and had become regulars in the play-offs, but they couldn’t get over the line.

Hughton had won promotion with Newcastle and came close with Birmingham. It was a perfect match as he needed to repair his reputation out of the spotlight. It wasn’t instant success as he fought relegation for the rest of the season and stayed up by only six points. However, he did enough to win favour with the board and he hasn’t looked back since.

During his second season, the club challenged for promotion and missed out only on goal difference by two goals. It was heartbreak on the final day as they needed a win against rivals Middlesbrough, but came up short. They couldn’t get themselves back up for the play-offs and were knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday.

It seemed like both Hughton and Brighton had missed their opportunity of promotion, but they regrouped and earned it the following season in convincing fashion. They may have collapsed late to lose out on the title, but they had won promotion by April and it was never really in doubt.

That was an excellent achievement, but there remained doubts about Hughton’s ability to establish Brighton in the Premier League.

The summer saw him make shrewd additions with Pascal Gross, Mathew Ryan, Davy Propper, Ezequiel Schelotto and Jose Izquierdo coming in to strengthen the first-team. It took some of them time to settle, but they are all now starters. As a newly-promoted club, it is important to add quality to the squad if you are to survive.

Despite being a newly-promoted club, Brighton haven’t really been in much danger of relegation this season. They haven’t been in the relegation zone since the second week of the season. The bottom-half of the table has been tight, but the Seagulls have always had a buffer to the relegation zone. They have taken points from 18 of their 19 matches and their recent match display against Arsenal was the highlight of their season to date.

In the first-half, they attacked with vigour and caused Arsenal a lot of problems. They went 2-0 up and could have scored more on another day.

Although the Gunners got a goal back, the result never looked in serious danger and the home side managed the game well. It was a performance fitting of a Premier League team and the aim now will be to establish themselves at this level over the course of several years.

It is a challenge that Hughton will be relishing. In a period of few British coaches at the highest level, the Brighton manager is proving that he is one of the best and he could start to be linked with bigger jobs if he continues to impress.

The Seagulls remain in the FA Cup and have reached the quarter-final stage for the first time since 1986. Hughton is establishing himself as one of the best managers in the club’s history and although they face a difficult match against Manchester United to reach Wembley, they have the ability to get to the next round.

There is a long way to go in this season, but Brighton could feasibly finish in the top half of the Premier League and win the FA Cup. That would be a season beyond the wildest dreams of many supporters. It remains a long shot, but to be in with a chance is a great achievement by Hughton.

If his side can finish the season strongly, he has to be in contention to win Manager of the Year award.

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