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Everton vs Brighton: The Opposition View

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We spoke to French football writer and Seagulls fan Jeremy Smith ahead of Saturday’s Goodison clash

Everton v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League - Goodison Park
Richarlison scored the only goal in this fixture last season
Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images

Everton will look to go into the international break with seven wins from as many games this season when they host Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Blues have made a perfect start to 2020-21 under Carlo Ancelotti, taking maximum points from their first three league games and winning the same number of EFL Cup ties to advance to the quarter-finals.

Brighton have won one and lost two of their opening three league games, but were desperately unlucky to be beaten by Manchester United last week and pushed Chelsea all the way despite defeat on the opening weekend.

The Seagulls have lost on all three visits to Goodison Park since promotion in 2017, and have in fact never won there on eight trips in their history.

Prior to Saturday’s match, we spoke to Jeremy Smith, Brighton fan and French football writer and podcaster at French Football Weekly::

RBM: Firstly, Brighton only have three points from their first three games, but how many do you think they deserve to have?

Jeremy: Bluntly, we deserve at least seven, if not nine. We played Man Utd off the park last week and outplayed Chelsea for a lot of our first game.

To have only three points is a real sickener.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - Premier League
Graham Potter saw his Brighton side concede a 100th-minute winner to Manchester United on Saturday
Photo by John Sibley - Pool/Getty Images

RBM: Graham Potter has switched to playing with a back three this season. How have Brighton managed in this system so far?

Jeremy: Generally it’s gone well. Just like Adam Webster last season, it will take Ben White a little time to get used to the step-up in quality and he has had a couple of lapses, but has also looked very assured and has highlighted what a great passer of the ball he is.

But I think the three of them will only get better as a unit - even though we continue to be weirdly vulnerable at set pieces.

RBM: Tell us a bit more about Tariq Lamptey, Brighton’s 19 year-old right-back who has been making waves in the early weeks of the season.

Jeremy: We signed him from Chelsea in January and had there been no lockdown, we may well not have seen him until this season. But he was given his chance in June and has been named our man of the match in pretty much every game since.

He may look like a kid, but he’s a deceptively tough defender and fantastic going forward - quick, skilful, great crosser. And he has a fantastic attitude too. A brilliant signing and a bargain at £3 million.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester United - Premier League
Lamptey has shone for Brighton so far this term
Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

RBM: What is the general feeling among Brighton fans towards Potter currently? Has the style of play improved as much as was expected under him?

Jeremy: The difference in style of play compared to under Chris Hughton is like night and day. Last year was a transition year as the players and fans adjusted and, while at our best it was great to watch, there were a lot of matches where fans became annoyed at sterile possession and dangerous playing out from the back.

But the team is continuing to grow into the new style, more players are being added who fit into that style, and the football this season has already looked a lot more coherent and purposeful, while still entertaining to watch. Obviously that means little without goals and points but certainly the great majority of us are fully behind Potter for now.

RBM: Brighton finished 15th last season in Potter’s first year in charge. What should be their aim this term?

Jeremy: Ultimately we want to establish ourselves as a regular top ten team but the last few years have shown that, other than the top six or seven and maybe the bottom couple, there is little to separate those in-between.

That said, I’m not sure about targets, but continued improvement in points and places is the aim. So, realistically, somewhere between 11th and 14th would be great.

Arsenal FC v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Potter kept Brighton up fairly comfortably last term
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

RBM: Where else could Brighton do with strengthening before the transfer window shuts on October 5?

Jeremy: The two main areas of concern were left back and centre-forward. Solly March’s start to the season as left-wing-back suggests that is not as urgent as first thought.

But we would still love to have a big target-man striker to complement or be an alternative to Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly.

RBM: How do you expect Brighton to set up on Saturday?

Jeremy: I expect it to remain five at the back. Then either 5-2-3 like last week, or maybe 5-3-2 for a bit more midfield presence. That would save Potter the dilemma of whether to bring back Yves Bissouma after suspension and, if so, who of Steven Alzate and Adam Lallana - who were both excellent last week - misses out.

If three in the middle, then Connolly may drop out, leaving Maupay and Leandro Trossard further forward.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea - Premier League
Centre-back Ben White signed a new contract at Brighton having been coveted by Leeds following his loan spell at Elland Road last term
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

RBM: Which of Brighton’s players do you think could cause Everton the most problems?

Jeremy: The nice thing is that there are a few who could do.

On recent form, Lamptey is the obvious one, but I think he may have more of a defensive brief this week. So I’ll go with Trossard, who hit the woodwork three times last week (and once the week before!) and so is due a change of luck!

RBM: Finally, what’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?

Jeremy: Despite our good recent away record, we don’t have a great time at Goodison; you’re in great form and it may be tough to recover psychologically from last week’s undeserved defeat.

So I’m going for an Everton win, but hopefully with the Albion giving a good account of ourselves - maybe 3-2.

Our thanks to Jeremy for his time.