Last season was transitional with plenty of up and downs, but most importantly, it was successful. It didn’t look promising before the restart, but Maupay’s 95th minute winner against Arsenal was the crucial turning point that our season needed. The threat of relegation brought out the determined, disciplined side of Potter and his team. Defensive performances away at Southampton, Burnley, and Norwich were particularly impressive – ironically, very Hughton-esque! It proved that Potter has the flexibility to mix it up and we were still capable of grinding out points in tough times, giving me a bit more confidence ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Graham Potter begins his second season at Brighton, and it is truly evolving into his squad, as he continues to tear apart the team that Hughton built. Predicting the line-up is becoming even more of a challenge, but I have put together a squad report to try and help point fantasy football managers in the right direction.
It looks likely that Maty Ryan (4.5m) will begin the season as the most popular Brighton asset, with over a fifth of managers putting their trust in the Aussie. Surprisingly, nine clean sheets last season was not enough to warrant a price increase therefore, alongside McCarthy of Southampton, he becomes one of the standout value picks in between the sticks. The fixtures might not be kind in the early stages, but if Ryan is part of your long term plans, you can’t really go wrong. Ryan played every minute last year and was our highest point scorer, so he is a nice option at 4.5m, especially with an even stronger defence in front of him this time around. Christian Walton (4.0m) has recently been added to the game and is our new David Button! A minor injury will keep him out for a few weeks, but after that, it looks like he will be our second choice goalkeeper, ahead of Steele and Sanchez. Useful information for those that like the safety net, in case of injury or suspension.
At the back…
Defence is where it gets seriously interesting. We have numerous top quality defenders at the club, but there is one that stands out as a potential fantasy football bargain. Tariq Lamptey (4.5m) was stolen from Chelsea for a measly £3million, after spending over 10 years in their academy. He was no doubt one of our best players post-restart and following the sale of Montoya, it is safe to assume Potter sees him as our first choice right back. Not only is he great defensively, Lamptey often charges forward with confidence and is difficult to stop when he hits top speed. If Potter sets up with a 3-5-2, an attacking wing back priced at 4.5m is going to be tough to ignore, even if there is a chance of rotation occasionally. Lamptey demonstrated his quality at right wing back against Burnley in GW38, providing a constant, direct threat, accumulating 4 key passes, and creating 2 big chances against a notoriously strong defensive side. Potential rotation with Veltman and Alzate might scare off FPL managers, and it is justified, but Lamptey is our first choice and he will start more often than not. Potter might choose to rotate in the tougher fixtures, which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for FPL managers anyway, as Lamptey would probably be sitting on your bench.
Two of our best summer signings have in fact been contract extensions, and real statements of intent from the board. After weeks of speculation, Ben White (4.5m) signed a new long-term deal at Brighton (and not Leeds!), which can only be good news for our clean sheet chances. He has had outstanding reviews after every loan spell and last season was no different, as he became one of the Championship’s star players, with some Leeds fans even comparing him to Rio Ferdinand! White’s composure and ball-playing abilities will be a great match for our playing style, and our adamance to keep him at the club should be reflected with regular starts. In a recent friendly against Chelsea, he was often given the freedom to progress into the opposition half, which he regularly did at Elland Road last season. White should start and is probably a safer pick than Lamptey, albeit the rewards will have a slightly lower ceiling. Lewis Dunk (5.0m) also signed a new contract, which was fantastic news as his contribution to the club can never be underestimated. The best player I have seen in a Brighton shirt and he is well on his way to becoming a club legend. Even though no centre back in the league had more shots than him last season (31), his price probably makes him undesirable for many FPL managers. Adam Webster (4.5m) improved as the season went on, he also managed 3 goals and will be a threat again this time around. It will be a surprise if he is dropped from the side, which hints at a more frequent use of the 3-5-2 this season, to squeeze in the three top class centre backs. A back three of White, Dunk and Webster will be excellent; Webster and White could be solid Brighton assets if they are both starters, which they should be.
Dan Burn (4.5m) and Joel Veltman (4.5m) will be rotation options, which demonstrates the brilliant depth we have in defence. Burn can cover the left side of defence and centre back, and he is left footed which offers us something a bit different. We haven’t seen the last of him, but his minutes will be reduced this season. Veltman will provide excellent cover for centre back, as well as the right side of defence. They will both get sporadic minutes over the course of the season; I wouldn’t be looking at either of them for my FPL team.
Bernardo (4.0m) is a confusing one. He is currently our only recognised left back and was one of our best players towards the end of Hughton’s reign, yet Potter doesn’t seem to be a fan. The left wing back position would suit him perfectly as his pace and agility would allow him to drive up the pitch, as well as being solid enough defensively. I am sure Potter has his reasons, possibly an attitude problem or something behind the scenes, because Bernardo is a decent Premier League player. He has been linked away from the club and if he does move elsewhere, I am sure he will succeed.
We also have Leo Ostigard on loan at Coventry, and Derby player of the season, Matt Clarke returning to the Rams for another year; two centre backs who are improving every year and will be competing for places in our first team in the years to come.
In the middle…
Moving on to midfield, where there are even more questions! I am certain there is an FPL gem in here somewhere, I am just not sure who it is yet. Injuries and rotation meant that Leandro Trossard (6.0m) never really got going last season, but when he was available, Potter usually started the Belgian international. With 10 goal contributions last campaign, the talent is clear to see, so there is no reason why he can’t build on what was a solid first season in English football. It is also worth noting that he played alongside Maupay in a 3-5-2 against Chelsea in preseason, which would only add to his appeal as an FPL asset. Trossard could have found his way into my team if he was £5.5m, but his price seems a little too expensive currently. I think he will be an important player this year and certainly has the potential to be the budget midfielder we all want in our teams, but for now, Trossard is in the ‘wait and see’ category.
Alexis Mac Allister (5.5m) came in at a tricky point last year, we have seen glimpses of his quality but not frequently enough just yet. A great prospect and only 21 years old, hopefully he can start to kick on after a few months of settling in; he could be the creative player we need. Mac Allister is evidently not an option right now, with players like Armstrong and Saint-Maximin at the same price, but he is one to keep an eye on. Adam Lallana (6.5m) not only adds to the great depth we have in this area of the pitch, but he will bring much needed experience to a fairly young side. During preseason, he has been a part of a midfield three, a little bit deeper than we are used to seeing him. Too pricey to be considered an FPL option, especially considering the probable midfield rotation. Pascal Groβ (6.0m) is beginning his fourth season at the club, and he is still the most creative player in the side. The German created the most big chances (10) and also had the highest expected assists (5.4xA) in the squad. He’d be in my team if he started every week, the problem is, he won’t start every week! Davy Propper (5.0m) is not a player you want in your FPL side, along with Jose Izquierdo (5.5m), who I’m sure people have forgotten about. I wish nothing but success to Alireza Jahanbakhsh (5.5m). He has a fantastic attitude but, apart from THAT bicycle kick, it just hasn’t worked out for him at Brighton.
One midfielder that has stood out from the rest is Yves Bissouma (4.5m). Arguably our best player since football returned in March and is becoming the complete midfielder that we were promised when he signed from Lille. Previously, he had been a luxury, but the defensive side of his game has improved tremendously, and his ability to win the ball is valuable. In his box to box role, he is also more than capable of helping at the other end of the pitch, as we witnessed when he unleashed a 25 yard screamer against Burnley in GW38. The only question mark is consistency. If he can perform at this level on a regular basis and prove that this is not just a peak in form, then Bissouma could become a crucial player this season. A solid 5th midfielder option and, as an FPL asset, I prefer Bissouma to Dale Stephens (4.5m), although it is still not clear who will get more minutes. Stephens has been a regular in the side for years, his tackles and interceptions have been a vital, often underrated, cog in our machine. More defensive and less exciting than Bissouma, and you could argue that we have better options in midfield now. Steven Alzate (4.5m) is another exciting prospect. Incredibly versatile; he can play anywhere in the midfield and is comfortable at either wing back position if needed. He shown his quality last season, but this could be his real breakout year. It is going to be intriguing to see where he fits into the team, one thing is for sure though, Brighton fans will be very pleased to see him on the pitch after a few injury problems at the end of last season. Solly March (5.0m) will probably start the season at left wing back ahead of Burn, Bernardo, and Alzate, which is a position that suits him. Saying that, this is probably our weak spot that we are hopefully looking to improve. March is a solid squad player but nothing more than that.
Yet again, it looks like we will be relying on Neal Maupay (6.5m) to put the ball in the net, and he will be hoping to better his respectable total of 10 goals last season. A hardworker, a goalscorer, and a bit of aggression – a few reasons why he is becoming a fan favourite. I expect him to be a starter, of course, and he fits Potter’s philosophy perfectly; he was second amongst strikers for final third pressures (355) last season, which confirms his quality as a pressing forward. There are quite a few FPL alternatives, although within his price bracket, only Ayew and Wood outscored him last season. Not too much can be expected from a 6.5m forward, his goals will tick along, and I expect him to reach double figures again this season. However, he might have to give up his penalty taking duties after missing two in a row, which would be a considerable downside. In my opinion, the Frenchman is certainly one to keep an eye on in the opening weeks and will be a good option down the line when we have a nice run of fixtures.
Aaron Connolly (5.5m) got a big price increase compared to last season, which makes him a little too expensive in my opinion. He is an energetic, direct player, and his partnership with Maupay has caused problems for defenders. However, he is still young so his minutes will be managed, as we have seen in the past. Murray has joined Watford on loan, and Andone has stated that he never wants to return to Brighton (we don’t want him back anyway), which has left us very short of attacking options. Fans will be disappointed if we fail to sign another striker as it would leave us in a troublesome situation if Maupay picks up an injury. More competition would consequently hinder Connolly’s potential as a long term option.
It is a tough one because there are still plenty of uncertainties.
It looks like we will be seeing the 3-5-2 much more this season. As it stands, only Ryan, Dunk and Maupay are 100% nailed! I think Brighton are very much a ‘wait and see’ in terms of fantasy football, especially with tricky fixtures against Chelsea, Man United and Everton within the opening month. Players like Trossard, Maupay and White could emerge as great options down the line.
For GW1, I have been switching between Ryan and Lamptey, but I will probably end up with Maty Ryan, simply for the security of guaranteed minutes. I think Bissouma is also worth looking at as a 5th midfielder, although you must accept that Potter will rotate.
This could be completely wide of the mark, but if I had to predict a lineup for GW1, it would look something like this: