When Graham Potter left Brighton back in September, many pundits thought it would be a huge blow to the Seagulls, and it would lead to them struggling at the wrong end of the table in the 2022/23 campaign. However, despite that early setback, Brighton is on course to better their ninth-place finish from last season. It will mean they will break their best position in the top flight of English football for the second straight year.
A lot of Brighton’s success this season must go down to head coach Roberto De Zerbi. When he was announced as Potter’s replacement as documented in the BBC report, the former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk coach arrived with a good record at the clubs he had managed.
Brighton has been a heavy scorer under De Zerbi, who has wasted no time in improving his team. They have scored 66 goals in their opening 34 Premier League matches this season. In that period, only three clubs have scored more goals in the league, and they are Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Some of the standout results the Seagulls have had under De Zerbi this season include a 4-1 victory over Chelsea, a 3-0 success against Liverpool, a 6-0 hammering of Wolverhampton Wanderers and a 3-0 victory against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The latter put a big dent in the title prospects for Arsenal FC this season.
As of the 18th of May, at the odds Betway is offering, Brighton is 1/10 for a top-six finish. That would ensure the Seagulls qualify for European competition next season. The club has never featured in Europe before, so it would be a huge achievement.
Who gets your vote for @BarclaysFooty Manager of the Season? 👔
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 18, 2023
De Zerbi will be doing all he can to ensure his players remain focused for the remaining games in the season. He was recently shortlisted for the Premier League Manager of the Season along with Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Unai Emery, Eddie Howe and Marco Silva. That speaks volumes about the job the Italian has done since arriving on the south coast.
One of the biggest problems De Zerbi may have when the season is over is convincing some of his star players to remain at the club. Many of them, including World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister, have been linked with a summer move to a bigger club. Liverpool are thought to be very keen on signing the Argentine, with a fee of £70 million being reported by many sports journalists. Brighton FC midfielder star Pascal Gross is another key player they must do all they can to retain next season.
Aston Villa Have Shone Under Emery
Under the hands of Emery, it has been an excellent second half of the season for Aston Villa. When the Spaniard took over in November from Steven Gerrard, the Midlands club was in a relegation battle. He was quickly able to transform their form and push them away from the danger zone, unlike Southampton FC who were relegated this season.
Villa is set to finish in the top half of the standings this season. They may end the campaign in the highest position in the Premier League table since they finished sixth in 2010. That will give them something to build upon next season.
This is Emery’s second position in England as he managed Arenal between 2018 and 2019. As Reuters reported on his sacking, it did not work out for the Spanish boss in North London, but he is now showing why he has been long regarded as one of the best coaches in Europe.
Another Big Season For Frank’s Bees
Brentford is another club that comes into the conversation when it comes to who has been the surprise package this season. This is only the Bees’ second year in the Premier League. They finished 13th in their debut campaign, winning 13 of their 38 matches. The West London club have already matched that tally of wins after 36 games.
Thomas Frank has produced some incredible results against the 'Big Six' this season 👏
✅ Brentford 4-0 Man United
✅ Man City 1-2 Brentford
✅ Brentford 3-1 Liverpool
🤝 Brentford 0-0 Chelsea
🤝 Brentford 2-2 Tottenham
🤝 Arsenal 1-1 Brentford pic.twitter.com/SaJmZn9Zg0
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) February 11, 2023
The Bees’ best run this season came between game weeks 14 and 29. They went unbeaten in 12 matches through those six months. Some of their wins came over Manchester City (away), Liverpool (home), West Ham (away) and Bournemouth (home) in an impressive run.
Brentford manager Thomas Frank is unsurprisingly being linked with some of the biggest jobs in the league. The Dane has been with the club since 2018 now. He has now recorded over 100 wins as the Bees’ boss. It has been another fantastic Premier League season, despite the World Cup interruption. The challenge for those who were successful this year will be to replicate or improve their position next time around.