Newcastle United writer, Liam Kennedy, posed a few questions ahead of Brighton’s trip to Newcastle for this Saturday’s late kick-off at St James’ Park.
While it’s perhaps too early to call this a relegation clash, it will certainly be a crucial battle between two teams looking to move away from the lower end of the table. Defeat to a direct rival for Newcastle on their home soil would bring enormous pressure on Steve Bruce while Brighton will hope to convert recent encouraging performances into three points. Here’s my response to Liam’s question.
What have you made of Brighton’s start to the season?
It’s a new regime at Brighton and Graham Potter is implementing a more possession-based brand of football. The formation and style is attack-minded and Albion are perhaps slightly unfortunate not to have more points on the board from their first five matches. They started extremely well with a 3-0 victory at Watford but two draws and a loss on home soil - plus a 4-0 beating at champions Manchester City - has slowed progress. Five points from five is a solid start but importantly for fans, Brighton have been highly-competitive and good to watch once more. They should have more points but the feeling in and around the club is very positive.
Who has been the club’s stand out performer?
Dan Burn has started the season well. The 6ft 7” defender operates on the left side of the defensive trio and has impressed after spending last season on loan in the Championship at Wigan. Commanding in the air but also composed on the ball and links the attacks well. Striker Neal Maupay, a £16m summer signing from Brentford, has scored twice this season and is improving with each match. He offers good movement and is a fine finisher.
What have you made of the manager’s performance so far?
Graham Potter has impressed. He’s had a full preseason since taking over from Chris Hughton and has firmly stamped his mark on the team. Potter likes to keep the ball and attack with aggression and pace. He encourages his defenders to play out from the back, no matter the opposition. At the Etihad, Albion had a shade under 50 per cent possession and created decent chances. Potter was highly-regarded by his previous employers Ostersund and Swansea - the Brighton job is a big step-up in his career and he has made a solid start to his first season in the Premier League.
Who is the Newcastle United player you think is likely to provide Brighton with the most cause for concern?
I enjoy watching Jonjo Shelvey play. He is always entertaining and something is always liable to happen - be that good or bad! At his best, he controls possession and the pace of the match. He can pick out the perfect pass at short or long range and he has good shot on him as well.
From the outside looking in, how do you view the Mike Ashley situation on Tyneside?
The relationship Mike Ashley has with the fans is in total contrast to that of Brighton chairman Tony Bloom. Newcastle supporters clearly can’t wait to see the back of Ashley and the quicker the club can find a buyer, the better for all concerned...A football cub should, above everything, be about the fans and the community rather than one man’s ego or business interests. It will also save us all from having to look at those garish Sports Direct ads all round St James’ Park.
What injury concerns do Brighton have ahead of the game?
Ezequiel Schelotto (knee) and midfielder Yves Bissouma (shoulder) could be in contention for their first starts of the season as both are closing in on full fitness. Martin Montoya (tonsillitis) may be available but Leandro Trossard (groin) remains absent.
2-1 to Brighton.
Where do you see Brighton finishing this season? And is that likely to be above or below NUFC?
I think Brighton will finish lower-midtable...just above Newcastle!