Stephens expects fast Seagulls start

Brighton and Hove Albion
Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens says it is vital they provide a threat to Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend.

Midfielder Dale Stephens is confident Brighton can make a strong start to the new Premier League season.

It has been a summer of change at The Amex after the Seagulls rather limped to survival in the top-flight last season, with Chris Hughton being replaced as manager by Graham Potter.

Potter is renowned for playing attractive possession-based football and Stephens, who was a regular first-choice under Hughton, is enjoying the new approach.

“It’s a new style of play and it’s something I’ve enjoyed,” the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by the West Sussex Gazette. “The head coach has got some different ideas and he’s freshened things up.”

The general consensus amongst Brighton supporters was that a change in philosophy was needed as the Seagulls have only scored 69 goals since returning to the top flight, with the emphasis having been placed on a strong defence.

Keeping hold of Lewis Dunk, who continues to be linked with a move to Leicester, will be key to Brighton retaining their strong rearguard approach, but Potter’s new style of play should also allow the south-coast club to boast more of an attacking threat.

Glenn Murray has finished as the Seagulls leading scorer during their two seasons in the Premier League, but he turns 36 next month and will need support.

That help is likely to come in the form of new signing Neal Maupay, who completed his reported £20million move from Brentford earlier his week.

The Frenchman netted 25 goals in the Championship last season and will certainly add an extra goal threat, but Stephens remains convinced that Murray can still find the back of the net on a regular basis at the highest level.

 

“It’s the same with Glenn [Murray] when you talk about his composure in front of goal,” he added. “He’s our penalty taker and he’s used to those situations. He’s got a wise head on him and we trust that he’ll score.”

Brighton will get their Premier League season under way when they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford on Saturday.

The Seagulls have only won one of their last nine games against the Hornets but Stephens is confident they can make a fast start this weekend.

“We’ve had a good few weeks of hard training, and now we can’t wait for the season,” the former Charlton player revealed.

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