Brighton & Hove Albion 2 (Gross 14 pen, Wellbeck 79)
Leeds United 0
Well, I suppose we’ve been spoilt this season with the general quality and potency of our football so there is no point in being too hard on the team after what was, by a country mile, the worst display we’ve seen.
It was never going to be as easy as some fans thought, Brighton still had that all important Premier League survival to play for and that incentive can never be underestimated; players futures depend on it so let’s give the Seagulls some credit for doing what they needed to do. It’s easy to forget that sometimes you can only play as well as the opposition lets you! If we are honest we have to accept that this could have been a much bigger defeat than it was as Brighton had several very decent chances that they wasted compared with few big chances for ourselves.
Knowing that, and then having to go to the Amex without Kalvin Phillips, having already been denied again the services of Raphinha, effectively meant our two best players this season were missing. There was also the ripple effect of having to shuffle the pack and move away from the set-up that had been so successful in recent weeks. In particular the driving runs of Stuart Dallas through the middle and his high press in recent matches has been a major part of that success and that, more than anything, was probably the key. Early on he was stranded on the right-wing and then after the break he replaced Alioski at left back; it wasted his natural talents but with the players available was probably unavoidable.
Other players were just out of form rather than out of position. Jack Harrison looked very poor all day; his right wing corners were dire, never beating the first man, while his left wing crosses were constantly far too long, most way past the back post; he looked ready for a summer holiday! Tyler Roberts too didn’t come up with enough quality and his future in the 1st XI must be in doubt for next season while neither Rodrigo nor Pablo Hernandez produced any real spark for the few minutes they got. If Leeds don’t tick then inevitably Mateusz Klich doesn’t tick either and he too looked a long way below his best. Ian Poveda always looks busy and involved when he gets on the pitch but whether he is ever going to be strong enough at this level is still a moot point for me.
Defensively, I thought we did OK, the Struijk – Llorente pairing continues to look strong and I didn’t think Robin Koch looked out of place at DM either but it was the front two thirds where we simply didn’t offer enough threat and we were well beaten today.
I think the fact that Brighton are one of the few teams at the wrong end of the table to trouble us this season probably says more about Brighton than us; only the top 8 sides have lost fewer games than the Seagulls and it is only their 13 draws this season that have meant they’ve struggled. They are probably better considered as a mid-table side.
I am sure Marcelo Bielsa will have learned more today than in any of our recent victories too so, in the long run, there may still be value in this game to take away. Let’s hope, as we usually do, we can bounce back and now have a decent run through to the end of the season.
Brighton Leeds United
Possession 43% 57%
Shots 17 11
On Target 5 2
Corners 2 9
Fouls Committed 17 6