Soccer

Graham Potter: Brighton boss insists team are better than at same stage of Premier League season a year ago

Graham Potter is confident Brighton are on an upward trajectory as he claimed his side are better than they were at the same stage last season.

The Seagulls are six points clear of the relegation zone with nine games of the campaign to go, the same number of fixtures they had when the 2019/20 season was halted for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brighton went on to comfortably secure their top-flight place and while Potter acknowledged making comparisons between then and now is difficult, he is convinced his side are a much tougher proposition than they were.

“As a team we’re better now, we’re stronger now in pretty much every area, if you were to analyse our performance we’re better at everything,” Potter said. “In terms of our ability to get results, I think we’re stronger than we were.

“In terms of how we’re playing I think we’re stronger than we were this time last year.

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“That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the results, you’ve still got to go and get them, but I feel the group is in a better place and we’re looking forward to the last nine matches.”

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Back-to-back wins over Southampton and Newcastle before the international break lifted Brighton to 32 points, ensuring some much-welcomed breathing space between themselves and those languishing in the bottom three.

However, Potter was reluctant to set a target for his side when asked how many points he thought they needed to beat the drop ahead of their trip to take on high-flying Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“No idea is the truth but I know we haven’t got enough now, so we have to keep going,” Potter added.

“The only way you can really take charge of your own position is just to focus on yourself and the next match, which is an opportunity to get three points and that’s what we’ll focus on.

“In terms of how many points we need, there’s no point worrying about that too much.”

Solskjaer expecting Brighton test

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United’s players are approaching the match against Brighton with “bright eyes” given their admiration for a side that can make life difficult this weekend.

Brighton are six points clear of the relegation zone after thrashing struggling Newcastle 3-0 before the international break, when Potter’s side finally got the kind of result their positive play has deserved.

Solskjaer says those performances have caught the eye at United, who needed a contentious Bruno Fernandes penalty that was taken after the final whistle to seal a 3-2 win at the Amex in September.

“Since I came we’ve played them quite a few times and we’ve always had some hard-fought games, difficult games,” Solskjaer said.

“When you prepare for a game against Brighton you can see all our players with bright eyes because they really respect the way they play and the quality that they’ve had against us.

“We know that we have to be at our best to earn the right to play because you have to work really hard to get the ball off them.”

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