MARTIN KEOWN TALKS TACTICS: Brighton have lost control in midfield after selling off their top talent ahead of a derby-day clash against Crystal Palace – who are inspired by in-form duo Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise
- Brighton suffered a shock 4-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Luton in midweek
- Seagulls have made a sluggish start to 2024 in the league and are yet to score
- SAMI MOKBEL reveals which three January transfers he considers the best ever – That’s all kicking off the transfer week podcast
Brighton have turned selling their best and brightest stars into an art form that never seems to bother them.
Whether it was Marc Cucurella to Chelsea, or Yves Bissouma to Tottenham, or Ben White to Arsenal, it was a runaway train that refused to be derailed. But now, in the midst of a run of three wins in 16 Premier League games – their opponents today Crystal Palace have won four in 16 – you have to wonder if that policy is catching up with them.
They sold Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister in the summer and amid that absence of control in midfield, opponents seem to be figuring out how to beat Roberto De Zerbi’s approach.
Brighton started this season with a 4-1 win over Luton at the Amex Stadium. It was the Seagulls at their slickest, oozing confidence with one-on-one and two-turn passes from mesmerizing play as Luton won possession just once in the final third.
But when they met at Kenilworth Road in midweek, Luton took that tally to 12 as Brighton were sluggish, predictable and played into their opponents’ high pressure.
Brighton suffered a shock 4-0 Premier League defeat to Luton at Kenilworth Road in midweek
The Seagulls have yet to find the net in a Premier League game since returning to action this year
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It took one faulty touch of the ball within 20 seconds for Luton to score their first goal. It was one of 173 times Brighton lost possession – their most in a Premier League game this season – as De Zerbi’s players dreamed up.
Pervis Estupinan’s obsession with moving inside from the left was on target for Luton’s second goal as it only took a single diagonal ball from Sambi Lokonga into space that Estupinan cleared for Chiedozie Ogbene to score. Luton then got their third goal after Estupinan carelessly gave possession away. He was hooked at half-time but the damage was done as Luton were already well on their way to a 4-0 win.
Brighton have yet to score in 2024 and I’m sure Palace will try to frustrate them in a similar way to Luton. They will press high and early, but if they can’t win the ball in that first rush, Roy Hodgson will tell his players to drop back to form a protective barrier around their box.
Brighton will need to show a lot more care on the ball because if they give it to Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise they risk staring at another demoralizing defeat.
Crystal Palace have been boosted by the return of their star players from injury, including Eberechi Eze (right)
Injuries have seen Eze and Olise start just four Premier League games together this season, but they are players who are going places. I got the chance to watch them train at Palace last year and spoke to Eze for half an hour afterwards. I got the feeling that he had accumulated as much knowledge as he could. He was very curious and wanted to know how our mindset was at Arsenal.
I told him there was no time to lose. You have to leave your mark. You want everyone at your club to talk about you in a positive way if you ever leave. Since then I have watched him with great interest and Eze has taken his game to another level, as has Olise.
It used to be all about Wilfried Zaha at Palace. Now it’s Eze and Olise guaranteeing electricity, and if Brighton aren’t careful, they could find themselves on the receiving end of another seismic shock.