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Brighton & Hove Albion

Leicester City 11/12 Opponents Preview – Brighton

This time around I will be previewing the fourth side in the Npower Championship, newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion have lots of potential to be the surprise package of the 2011/2012 season; however just gaining promotion and battling it out in the Championship could be a strenuous adventure, but last season proved that anything is possible as Norwich City were promoted via League 1, and after an amazing season under Paul Lambert they were then promoted to the Premier League, Brighton have been away from the second tier for five years though so it could well be a difficult task to conquer…

Brighton Preview
After five seasons away from the Championship, Brighton and Hove Albion eventually conquered Npower League 1 as Gus Poyet’s side secured promotion as the Champions of the third tier. The Seagulls are a team full of promise, with a highly regarded manager in charge and with a set of players willing to show their worthy at this level, many pundits have tipped Brighton to be this season’s surprise package. Whether or not they can match the level which their expected to achieve is another matter, plenty of new power up front will stand them in good stead but it’s in defence where they lack any real elegance, the inexperience of playing at Championship level for the Brighton back four could well take its toll as the campaign progresses. Onto a positive, Brighton and Hove Albion will be playing their football at the brand new Amex Stadium, with a capacity of just over 22,000 the Albion faithful will be hoping to see plenty of attractive football in their new arena this season.

Brighton players salute their fans at the end of the FA Cup Sponsored by E.ON 4th Round match between Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion at Vicarage Road on January 29, 2011 in Watford, England.

Key Players
In my view the Brighton defence lacks quality, so my focus will be on the Seagulls frontmen of Craig Mackail-Smith, Will Hoskins, Ashley Barnes and Roland Bergkamp aswell as wingers Will Buckley and Kazenga Lua-Lua. All the players mentioned are capable of scoring goals, as the midfielders and strikers could well be Brighton’s finest position on the field of play in 2011/2012. Mackail-Smith and Hoskins have both recently signed from Peterborough and Bristol Rovers respectively, Mackail-Smith was the subject of interest from this season’s early front runners West Ham and Leicester, despite being linked with both those sides the 27 year old has opted to sign for Brighton. The pesky frontman loves to chase down loss causes aswell as find the net on a regular basis, this is a massive season for Craig Mackail-Smith. Meanwhile new signing Will Buckley looked extremely impressive while at Watford, the winger was a vital player to the Hornets side last season, full of pace and athleticism Buckley could well cause a handful of problems in this campaign. Finally as mentioned above Will Hoskins and Kazenga Lua-Lua will also play crucial parts, two other players with bags of pace are both capable of turning on the style when it matters most.

Manager – Gus Poyet
Former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet will take charge of Brighton for yet another season, so far he has been a hit with the Brighton faithful as he gained them promotion to the Championship last season. Poyet is a highly rated manager who has the potential to go even further in managament, linked with many other clubs in the past the Uruguayan has decided to stick with Brighton and so far it has been a memroable rollercoaster. Managing in the Championship will be much harder than managing in League 1, but for a guy of Gus Poyet’s stature he will sure bring the best out of his players in the 2011/2012 season.

Ins and Outs
Ins – Will Hoskins(Bristol Rovers), Will Buckley(Watford), Roland Bergkamp(Excelsior), Craig Mackail-Smith(Peterborough), Romain Vincelot(Dag & Red), Kazenga Lua-Lua(Newcastle)

Outs – Elliott Bennett(Norwich), James Tunnicliffe(Wycombe), James McNulty(Barnsley), Glenn Murray(Crystal Palace), Chris Holroyd(Rotherham), Francisco Sandaza(St Johnstone), Agustin Battipiedi(Released), Cristian Baz(Released), Gary Hart(Released), Radostin Kishishev(Released)

Overall Thoughts
After numerous campaigns in Npower League One, the transition to Championship level may well be a strange feeling for Brighton this season. The Seagulls are expected to do very well, as manager Gus Poyet is a person who likes to strive on success, the signings of Craig Mackail-Smith, Will Buckley and Will Hoskins will prove to be crucial signatures, as the trio could prove to be highly dangerous to opposition defences. Even though they look superior when going forward on paper the defence looks quite the opposite, due to this Brighton may well have to succumb to a comfortable mid-table finish. Prediction – 14th

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