In-form Brighton a good outside punt for promotion
When discussing predictions for Championship promotion this season, much of the focus was on the high-profile dropouts from the Premier League, Blackburn, Wolves and Bolton, with a sprinkling of the big names yearning for a return to the top, such as Leeds, Forest and Sheffield Wednesday.
A few may have mentioned Ian Holloway’s well-run Blackpool, and perennial promotion-chasers Cardiff and Birmingham. But few, it would seem, thought of including Brighton in that list.
Indeed they remain 5/1 ninth favourites to secure a return to the highest division of English football since 1983, despite an impressive start that sees them sitting in fourth place, only two points off the top.
Gus Poyet has received many plaudits for his cool and calculated management style that saw Brighton promoted from League One in his first season, followed by consolidation in tenth place in the Championship last year.
With a new stadium boasting regular sell-outs, Brighton’s financial situation is a far cry from the precarious situation of the nineties, proven by Poyet’s impressive additions secured over the summer.
Wayne Bridge arrived from Manchester City, Tomasz Kuszczak from Man Utd while full back Bruno Saltor joined from Valencia in a move that mirrored last season’s transfer coup, when winger Vicente arrived from the Mestalla.
The Seagulls started strongly last season, going six games unbeaten before having to wait another nine games for a win. Any relegation fears were soon banished, but ambitious talk of promotion soon petered out too as their form became patchy at best, at one point losing five games in a row before going 12 games unbeaten after the new year.
Their main concern last season was goalscoring – only nine teams scored fewer goals in the Championship. They did boast one of the league’s better defences though and what bodes well for Poyet and co this season is that main striker Craig Mackail-Smith seems to have found his scoring boots again – he’s notched four in four already and is 14/1 fourth favourite to finish the Championship top scorer.
Should Brighton keep their main creator Vicente fit (he managed only 17 games last term), Brighton can expect to notch more goals this time round.
They’ve banged in eight in their last two games, with a brilliant 5-1 thrashing of Barnsley being followed by an equally impressive 3-1 defeat of Burnley at Turf Moor. A play-off spot will represent natural progression and will be Poyet’s minimum ambition, and there are few better outside shouts than Brighton at a tempting 5/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.