Is former outcast Florin Andone the answer to Brighton and Hove Albion's goal-scoring problems? - opinion
The Albion’s 20/21 EPL Covid campaign can almost be likened to a game of Snakes and Ladders - that amazing run of a win at Leeds, a home Amex victory against Spurs and then the first win at Liverpool for 39 years, saw them climb the ladder up the table and on the face of it apparently clear of the relegation fight only to find themselves then ‘landing’ on a huge snake of Monday in the form of deadly rivals Crystal Palace.
The injury-time 2-1 defeat possibly encapsulates much of the Albion’s season, 75% possession, 25 shots to Palace’s three and a corner count of 13 to nil, but yet another ‘failure’ at home. In sliding down that snake, going into the weekend’s fixtures Graham Potter’s men find themselves four points above Fulham, who currently occupy the final relegation place.
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It’s a mild understatement to say it’s all very frustrating for everyone connected with the Albion. I made no secret of the fact that I was formally in the ranks of the ‘Potter Out’ brigade, but on the face of it Brighton had appeared to turn the corner. The manager had stopped tinkering and things on the field had appeared to ‘click’, but rather than turning the corner were the Albion merely on a roundabout?
It basically comes down the scoring goals. More than 180 EPL minutes against rivals Palace, the Albion have had 47 shots and scored twice, Palace have had six shots and scored three goals, and taken four points out of a possible six.
Everything is in place except for probably the most important aspect of the beautiful game - scoring goals - and probably why strikers predominantly command the higher transfer fees. And is that the answer in itself?
Is the Albion’s apparent goal drought due to the lack of a proven goal scorer of Premier League standard?
At this point perhaps the words injury free should be inserted?, as I’ve no doubt that with a fully fit Danny Welbeck playing week in week out the Albion’s goals for column would look different, unfortunately that in itself is in the realms of Fantasy Football but the Albion knew what they were taking on when Welbeck signed.
His fellow Albion striker Neil Maupay has come in for a tremendous amount of criticism in certain quarters in the wake of the Palace defeat, personally I think it’s misplaced, I think he’s got what it takes, he’s just very low on confidence at the moment, I think partly due to that he’s the kind of player that feeds off the crowd, clearly something you can’t do in an empty stadium.
Another option could be the return of former outcast Florin Andone, one of the perceived ‘problem’ players Graham Potter go out on loan fairly early on in his managerial tenure.
Andone was injured whilst playing in Turkey, but is now back training with the Albion, he ticks the boxes, is eligible to play, and with those immortal words, it’s never too late to mend, springing to mind, could he be the man who, partnered with either Maupay or Welbeck, score the goals to help the Albion pull away from the relegation scrap?
Whether Andone features this weekend remains to be seen, but with Fulham going to Palace the Albion travel to West Brom, where anything less than a point will be perceived as abject failure.
However I’m confident the Albion can expunge Monday’s nightmare from current memory banks, unfortunately I don’t think I will ever truly forget Benteke’s 95th minute winner, so I’m going West Brom 0 Brighton 1.