The Premier League will have a new team this season as Brighton have finally made it to the top flight in the Premier League era, having come close in the 2015-16 season when they narrowly missed out on the automatic promotion places from the Championship. So what does the 2017-18 season have in store for the Seagulls?
Brighton built on their impressive 2015-16 season and finished second to Newcastle in the Championship. They did it while playing an exciting brand of football, scoring the fifth highest number of goals in the division and registering 28 wins. The club has been one of the top sides in the Championship for a number of seasons and that long spell of consistency will be an important psychological foundation for the team as they face the challenges ahead.
There is no doubt that surviving in the Premier League will be Brighton’s main focus in 2017-18 and both Middlesbrough and Hull showed how tough that is when they were relegated last season after just one campaign in the top flight. They couldn’t ask for a tougher start as their opening fixture is against Premier League giants Manchester City, but they will face both Watford and Bournemouth in their next four fixtures and will hope to get something out of those games in order to give them confidence.
Not surprisingly, bookmakers are predicting that the Seagulls will struggle this season. Although they are not favourites for relegation, they are among the top three candidates to go down, and you can back them at 6/5 with Ladbrokes for relegation and 4/6 with Sporting Bet to stay up. If you’re a little more optimistic, you can back them at 10/1 with William Hill to finish in the top half and for Brighton fans who fancy their chances of emulating Leicester and pulling off a shock Premier League win, you can back them at 1500/1 with Sky Bet.
The cup competitions might offer an outside chance of silverware, although it is worth noting that Brighton were knocked out of the EFL Cup and the FA Cup at early stages last season as they focused on earning promotion. Given that they will be prioritising survival this time round, punters can probably expect them to field a weakened team or two in some cup games, but if you think they may get some joy in the cup competitions, you can back the Seagulls at 90/1 with Paddy Power to win the FA Cup and 80/1 with BWin to lift the EFL Cup.
Brighton have brought in a number of players to strengthen their squad, though few are household names. Perhaps their most important acquisition could be Mathew Ryan. The Australian goal keeper has arrived from top Spanish side Valencia and his signing is an indication that manager Chris Hughton knows the club needs to strengthen at the back. Ryan will certainly have plenty of work to do this season!
Brighton have been extremely busy in the transfer market, releasing a number of players who did well for them last season, including David Stockdale, who has departed for Birmingham City, and have brought in a core of young players, many of whom have either international experience or have played in top leagues. The likes of Matthew Ryan and Markus Suttner, Pascal Gross, Josh Kerr and Mathias Normann all have considerable potential, but Brighton will be hoping that they also have what it takes to cope with Premier League football in the short term, if they are to survive what is sure to be a tough first season.