Steve Bailey: Albion need to learn from harsh lessons

Albion are quickly finding out how harsh life in the Premier League can be.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 6:20 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:25 am
Solly March celebrates scoring against Bournemouth last Friday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

This season is the club’s first in the top flight of English football for 34 years and the quality of players now in the top division is arguably as high as it has ever been.

The Seagulls have four points from five matches but will be wondering how they do not have one, two or even three points more. How costly the failure to pick up those extra points has been will only be shown by the final table in May.

The opening day 2-0 defeat to Manchester City was not a surprise, although Albion defended resolutely for 70 minutes, and Leicester will be a tough away trip for any club in the top flight this season. However, the Seagulls’ performance in the 2-0 defeat has probably been the most disappointing game so far.

Failure to beat a Watford side who had ten men for more than 60 minutes could be argued as two points lost. However, Watford’s results have been a mixed bag so far and they will pick up surprise results along the way. It still might not be a bad point come the end of the season.

Albion then built confidence with three goals and a first Premier League win when they beat West Brom 3-1 last weekend.

That led to fans heading to Bournemouth in high spirits for last Friday’s league encounter. Brighton executed their game plan perfectly for the opening hour, taking the lead through Solly March’s header.

At 1-0 up away from home in the Premier League, though, you have to be returning home with at least a point – especially as the Cherries had lost their opening four games.

However, inspired by Jordon Ibe, Bournemouth fought back to win 2-1 and that can be viewed as at least another point that has got away from the Seagulls.

It all makes Sunday’s league game with Newcastle even bigger. The Toon Army snatched the Championship title from under the noses of Brighton last season and have begun the new sesaon with nine points from five games.

It’s not must-win for Albion but you’d say it’s must-not-lose. The gap between the two sides is already five points and Newcastle are one of the sides who Brighton will be looking to finish above to stay up.

Several Newcastle players have top-flight experience from previous seasons in the Premier League, while a number of Brighton players have been playing in the top division for the first time.

They’re quickly finding out how different life is to the Championship as every little mistake is punished. Defensively, Albion have looked solid enough in every game. It’s just minor lapses which they’re being punished for.

At the other end, there can be little fault in the past two league games. Brighton scored three against West Brom and had been unlucky not to score at Bournemouth before March struck.

In the Carabao Cup at Bournemouth, Albion’s shortcomings up front were highlighted as no out-and-out striker was named in the squad. But the decision to make Tim Krul’s loan move from Newcastle permanent could suggest a loan from another Premier League club is incoming in January. What odds a forward?