Category Archives: Brighton & Hove Albion

Adam Lallana Signs for Brighton- How will the Englishman Fit in at the Amex?

Adam Lallana completed his highly anticipated switch to the Seagulls on a free transfer on Sunday after the expiration of his Liverpool contract.

The former England international returns to the south coast on a three year deal after previously starring for fellow Premier League outfit Southampton on their rise to the top tier.

He spent six years on Merseyside, arriving in 2014 from the Saints for a fee of £25 million. He went on to make 178 appearances for the club, establishing himself as a key man during Brendan Rodgers tenure and in Klopp’s early years in charge.

Injuries and a flurry of new signings in the summer of 2017 saw his playing time gradually decrease, with Lallana featuring in just 22 games in all competitions this season, none of which have come since the restart.

He did contribute significantly to Liverpool’s Premier League triumph, scoring a crucial late equaliser at Old Trafford against Man United to ensure the Reds came away with a point. He leaves Liverpool having won the Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and the Champions League.

He will be remembered fondly by Liverpool fans as he epitomised everything that Jürgen Klopp wants from a midfielder, a high energy, all action player who can contribute defensively as well as going forward.

Lallana had a host of clubs queuing up for his signature, and he was consistently linked with a reunion with Rodgers at Leicester but he snubbed them in favour of a move to Brighton, who finished 15th this season.

While it seems like a huge step down on paper, swapping Champions League football for a potential relegation battle, there is no doubt that footballing wise, Brighton is a natural fit for Lallana’s talents.

They are going places under Potter, with the former Swansea boss guiding them to their biggest ever points haul (41) since they secured promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

They are a possession based side, playing tidy football which is easy on the eye. Potter has employed a number of different formations this campaign, alternating between playing three and four at the back depending on their opponents.

He encourages forwards and midfielders to press high and in small groups to win back possession, similar to what Lallana was asked to do under Klopp at Liverpool, and something he regularly excelled at.

Lallana’s favoured position is attacking midfield, where he can drive forward with his superb dribbling skills. This helps him to wriggle out of tight spaces and create an opening for himself or a teammate.

With Potter often rotating his starting eleven, Lallana will be competing with Aaron Mooy for the number ten role. He impressed in patches this season but only contributed two goals and two assists in 25 games.

If Lallana is afforded the same amount of playing time, he will be hoping to better the Australian’s tally and be the creative spark Brighton have been crying out for this campaign.

Lallana is versatile, however, another characteristic which Potter admires. He has been deployed as a deep lying playmaker or a ‘number 8’, dictating the game from a more central position.

He can also operate as a winger or on the left or right of a front three, providing Potter with a number of new attacking options to compliment the strike force of Connolly and Maupay.

At 32, Lallana will provide some much needed top flight experience to the Seagulls’ relatively young squad. He went to the 2014 World Cup with England and featured in the 2016 European Championships, as well as playing regular European football at Anfield.

His experience of playing in those high level competitions and of winning trophies has instilled a winning mentality in Lallana, which he will be eager to pass on to those around him at Brighton.

Lallana, has already outlined his ambitions with the club, and playing in a relegation battle is not one of them:

“I won’t be happy with fighting against relegation every year. I’ve experienced that before at Southampton,” he told Brighton’s official website.

He clearly rates Potter and believes that he can take Brighton on a journey like the one which he experienced with Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton, when under the Argentine’s tutelage, the Saints finished eighth, their highest ever finish in the Premier League which granted them access to the Europa League.

“The template is in place and it is about implementing that and working with Graham (Potter), learning new things, improving myself, improving the team and there is no reason why we can’t do that.

“The job Graham has done in changing so many aspects of the way they play and building a culture and environment which makes it possible to move forward, I think it is definitely possible to move up the league.”

His trust in Potter’s philosophy was evidently a huge selling point for Lallana, as he clearly envisages himself in the manager’s system

Lallana, is also a top professional, who trains with the same intensity as he would when playing in a game. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, (a good friend of Lallana’s) in an exclusive interview on LFC TV citied Lallana’s professionalism, and work ethic as some of his key strengths stating:

“Whatever club he goes to, they are getting an amazing player and person.”

Having such a great professional and serial winner around the dressing room will be of great help to those coming through at Brighton and signing him on a free transfer from the Premier League champions is seen as a huge coup from the club, and a statement of intent that the owners are willing to trust in Potter and his style of play.

Lallana could have a similar impact at his new club as Milner did for the youngsters coming through at Liverpool, inspiring the next generation to combine their incredible talent with work hard to keep them grounded and pushing to improve themselves and the team.

Although he will be one of Brighton’s top earners, Lallana has taken a pay cut to join the Seagulls and it is understood that Brighton have not broken their wage structure to secure his signature.

The only worry surrounding Lallana will be his fitness, as the Englishman has missed over 70 games during his time on Merseyside through injury. Given his talent and price, however it is a risk worth taking.

Potter summarised nicely everything that Lallana will bring to Brighton when he told their official website:

“Adam is a really exciting signing for us, someone I am sure the supporters will be really looking forward to seeing play.”

Potter continued:

“To have both his experience and quality out on the pitch will be a great addition for us, and I know he will be an excellent role model for our younger players in the squad.”

Premier League TABLE scores and fixtures

 

PosTeamPlayedGDPoints
1Liverpool (C)385299
2Manchester City386781
3Manchester United3830

66

4Chelsea381566
5Leicester City382662
6Tottenham381459
7Wolves381159
8Arsenal38856
9Sheffield United38054
10Burnley38754
11Southampton38-952
12Everton38-1249
13Newcastle38-2044
14Crystal Palace38-1943
15Brighton38-1541
16West Ham38-1339
17Aston Villa38-2635
18Bournemouth (R)38-2534
19Watford (R)38-2834
20Norwich (R)38-4421

Results on Final Day

  • Arsenal 3-2 Watford 
  • Burnley 1-2 Brighton 
  • Chelsea 2-0 Wolves
  • Crystal Palace 1-1 Tottenham
  • Everton 1-3 Bournemouth
  • Leicester City 0-2 Manchester United
  • Manchester City 5-0 Norwich City
  • Newcastle United 1-3 Liverpool
  • Southampton 3-1 Sheffield United
  • West Ham United 1-1 Aston Villa

 

Premier League – who will escape the drop?

With the resumption of the Premier League season on the horizon, it’s looking increasingly more likely that clubs in the lower reaches of the table will have to face up to the danger of relegation. 

Despite the caveat of having no fans, a full season of Premier League fixtures are set to be played leaving little argument against relegation for three teams. So with the danger of the drop still present, which teams are in the most trouble? 

Norwich, of course, are currently the most threatened side. They sit bottom of the table with 21 points, six points adrift of 17th. It’s a large gap, but one that is still just about bridgeable. Despite facing Chelsea and Manchester City towards the end of the campaign, the Canaries’ run-in overall makes more positive reading. 

They face Southampton, Brighton, Watford and West Ham during their first six games back. Positive results in these matches could well turn the relegation battle on its head, and a recent victory against Leicester shortly before the lockdown will give Norwich hope of conjuring some form. 

In 19th, four points above Norwich, sit fellow promoted side Aston Villa. Since reaching the League Cup final, the Villains have lost all four of their Premier League matches – most recently 4-0 against Leicester.

Villa have a game in hand against Sheffield United, which is scheduled to be the first fixture back for the Premier League. A win would see Villa move up to 16th, but this will be a tough task against an excellent Sheffield United side who dispatched the Villains 2-0 earlier in the season. 

The run-in for Villa doesn’t gave any easier after that either, with matches against Chelsea, Wolves, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal to follow. Their season then finishes with what could well end up being a final day relegation decider against West Ham. 

Bournemouth lie in 18th with 27 points, joint with Watford and West Ham above them. The Cherries arguably face the toughest run of fixtures, with Wolves, Manchester United, Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester City all on the horizon. 

In fact, Bournemouth will not be facing any teams below them in the table. The lowest placed sides they face are Southampton and Newcastle – seven and eight points respectively ahead of the Cherries and both look to be clear of any real relegation trouble. 

The Cherries not only face difficult opposition, but have no opportunity to directly gain any ground on their relegation rivals. 

Watford and West Ham – the two other teams on 27 points – face each other in a relegation crunch match scheduled for mid July. The Hammers also have another key match scheduled a few days earlier against Norwich, as well as their final day showdown with Aston Villa.

Results in games against their relegation rivals could well see the Hammers safe. Add to this the fact that David Moyes seems to have struck upon a cohesive and powerful combination up front with Sebastian Haller, Michael Antonio and Jarrod Bowen (they were very unfortunate not to get a result against Arsenal before the lockdown), and things are looking relatively positive for West Ham.

Watford, meanwhile, face some tricky fixtures against Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City before Arsenal on the final day of the season. Their run in, however, doesn’t quite match the desolate landscape of Bournemouth’s with opportunities to gain points against their relegation rivals still available to the Hornets. 

Brighton sit in 15th with 29 points and despite a two point cushion above the relegation zone, they are by no means out of the woods. Like Bournemouth, they lack matches against sides in the relegation battle. The only team below them Albion face is Norwich who are already eight points adrift of Brighton, so it’s possible the match could be of little direct consequence. 

With six draws and only four defeats since the start of 2020, Brighton are proving tough to beat but are also massively struggling to carve out wins. They are winless since the 28th December 2019 and will need to be picking up all three points when they can to avoid slipping further into the relegation battle. 

One thing that should also be considered is the lack of fans, and how this might affect results. It was previously a topic open to debate but the fact that home advantage seems to have gone out the window in the Bundesliga seems to indicate it does have a large influence. 

Frankfurt boss Adi Hutter even commented the other week saying:

“teams with a high level of technical quality in particular are less dependent on support”, while also noting how a lack of fans can adversely affects sides lower in the division. 

At a glance, Aston Villa look to benefit the most from having a crowd behind them with a swing of 0.78 points per game (PPG) more at home than away. This would make sense given the raucous reputation of Villa Park and the Holt End. Villa’s home PPG swing is the third highest in the division behind Manchester United (0.79) and Everton (0.99). 

While Villa’s is the most stark, all the teams in the midst of the relegation fight have a swing of at least 0.5 PPG more at home barring West Ham with 0.27. This also makes sense given their questionable choice of new stadium. 

This would indicate that West Ham are less reliant on home support, so are less likely to be as affected by the lack of fans. Given this along with their bolstered frontline, the Hammers stand a good chance of staying up. 

Things don’t look so good for the Villains though, with a lack of fans looking like it could possibly be more of an issue for them. This coupled with their tough run of games could spell trouble for Villa.

Bournemouth also face a tricky run of fixtures but more importantly, do not face any teams around them so have little chance to make up ground on their rivals. They could also be set to slip further into the relegation quagmire. 

Watford will hope to draw upon Nigel Pearson’s experience from his great escape with Leicester in 2015, as well as looking to talented players such as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ismaila Sarr. Gerard Deulofeu, however, is still likely to be out for the remaining fixtures. 

Brighton and Norwich are both tricky to predict. Brighton have had a long and slow slide down the table, and it’s difficult to see where it might stop or how far down it will take them. 

Norwich look like they might be dead and buried, but a good run of results in the games they have against their rivals could seriously shake things up for the Canaries.

What is certain is that there is still much to play for at the bottom of the Premier League. 

How can Home teams overcome lack of fans?

Could the way forward for football in England when it gets back to playing behind closed doors, consist of artificial crowd noise?

Well, daft as this may seem to some people, the English Football League is considering putting this to the Championship clubs, the majority of whom returned back to training on Monday.

One club, Bristol City are already discussing varying innovations at the club with Premier League Brighton also discussing the possibility of pumping crowd noise for their forthcoming games.

Already the broadcasters in Germany have offered the option of fake fan noise during RB Leipzig’s win at Mainz at the weekend, while Borussia Monchengladbach utilised 12,000 cardboard cut-outs of fans.

This begs the question, when the Championship along with the Premiership can get back to playing again? Albeit behind closed doors, do we really need the sound of fan noise pumped into an already empty stadium and cardboard cut outs as well?

Yes of course football will never be the same without actual fans at games, but remember we are currently living in a time when we must expect this practice never being seen again for a long time.

The thought of having artificial noise inside stadiums mainly to help the home side really isn’t working now. Take the Bundesliga for example. Since the restart of football in Germany, there has only been three home wins from 18 matches played. So, the theory of home teams having a big advantage even in games played behind closed doors simply doesn’t work.

Any games played behind closed doors offers a level playing field to both sides, and honestly, we don’t need pumped music, or fan noise during games along with cardboard cut outs of fans.

It’s certainly taken a little while for players to get used to the new experience of playing in front of empty stadiums, but they are used to it by now. They don’t need extra noise to improve their performances.

Fans will gradually get used to the sight of unfilled grounds with no noise. Unfortunately, it is a slow process of the way football is going to look for a long time to come. The message to football fans at the minute should be this, no noise and no actual fans at grounds is different, but in the present world we live in it has to be either this or no football played in front of anybody.

Article written by Peter Moore

Football to Return

The Bundesliga will resume behind closed doors on 16 May, becoming the first European league to restart following the coronavirus shutdown.

One of the games of the day is the derby between Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, Which should be shown be shown live on BT Sport. Champions Bayern Munich, who are four points clear of Dortmund at the top of the table, travel to Union Berlin on Sunday. Most teams have nine games to play, with the final weekend of the season rescheduled for 27-28 June.

The German Football Association (DFB) said the season would resume under strict health protocols that ban fans from the stadium and require players to have Covid-19 testing. About 300 people, including players, staff and officials, will be in or around the stadiums during match days.

This come as good news for all football fans who have been starved off live football since March. The question is now Will the English Premier League and other Leagues across Europe follow Germany’s lead?

Germany has a lower death rate than the UK from the pandemic and Clubs returned to training in mid-April, with players working in groups. The prospect of the Premier League returning on the same date is minimal as players need to re-gain fitness however it may not be to long until it is resumed.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is due to address the nation with a new message at 7pm tonight (Sunday May 10th), the message is expected to be ” Stay Alert” rather than Stay Home, the message could be confusing but suggests lighter isolation restrictions which could in-turn mean they think it’s safe to allow football to return behind closed doors.

In worrying news Dynamo Dresden, who play in the second tier of German football, have put their entire squad and coaching staff into two-week isolation after two players tested positive for coronavirus. Bundesliga 2 is also due to restart on Saturday, 16 May. Elsewhere a third Brighton player has tested positive for coronavirus. Brighton players have been training individually at the training ground and the club say this will be allowed to continue. Premier League clubs are due to meet on Monday for more discussions about their proposed Project Restart plan.

Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish says that unless Premier League clubs can find a way to stage matches soon, it may be a “very, very extended period” before the top flight returns.Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Parish said that initial plans for league matches to be staged again from June may prove unfeasible.

“We would be derelict in our duty if we didn’t find a way to try and bring the game back,” he said. “It may prove beyond us.”

At least three clubs – Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa – are opposed to the plan to stage matches at neutral venues under ‘Project Restart’, while club doctors have raised concerns over aspects of the proposals.

A previous wave of 1,724 tests carried out last week by the Bundesliga returned 10 positive results.

“The German example could provide a blueprint for us and clearly we can see some of the early challenges,” added Parish.

“They may prove insurmountable, but the concern for us is that if they prove insurmountable now then we may be in for a very, very extended period of not being able to play and that has huge ramifications for the game.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously predicted a loss of “at least £1bn” if the Premier League fails to complete the 2019-20 campaign.

Parish believes that deciding the final league positions on the pitch, rather than relying on points per game or taking the current table as the final outcome, is preferable, even if conditions are far from ideal and this is something that I agree with.

Watching Football on TV even without crowds is something I am looking forward to in these times and Dortmund v Schalke is an exciting match to resume to.

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