Monday, March 20, 2023

4-4-1-1 Or 3-4-3: How Brighton & Hove Could Set Up In Their Premier League Opener Against Watford

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Adam Stenning
Adam is the Brighton Correspondent here at The 4th Official. He is a 21-year old Sports Journalism graduate. He is not only passionate about football but also has a keen interest in cricket, tennis and Formula 1.

Brighton kicks off their Premier League campaign on Saturday when they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Watford. The big question for many Brighton fans will be what formation will they play and who will start. Here, at The 4th Official, we take a look at a couple of formations and the starting XI which could take the field against Watford.

4-4-1-1 the most likely route

The most likely formation The Seagulls boss, Chris Hughton is expected to use is the tried and trusted 4-4-1-1. This was the formation Brighton used in a majority of their games last season and also the formation which they have adopted in most of the pre-season so far. Below is how they could lineup:

As you can see from the diagram, the surprises in this lineup above are playing March and Knockaert on the wings rather than Jose Izquierdo and club-record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh. The reason for this is Izquierdo may not be ready for the start of the season, after picking up a muscle injury.

The only other surprise in the lineup above would be to play Tomer Hemed upfront instead of last season’s top scorer Glenn Murray. This is down to the fact Murray has picked up a couple of injuries over this pre-season, the most recent a back injury, which forced him off 15 minutes into their friendly against FC Nantes last Friday. Also, Hemed has been one of the most impressive players in this pre-season for Albion, having scored two goals and also has got two assists. Hemed also did rather well at the start of last season before picking up a suspension for a stamp. After that, he struggled to get ahead of Murray, due to Murray’s impressive form. 

Alternative formation 3-4-3

The other formation Brighton could adopt is a system with three at the back. This system was deployed last season on one occasion against Chelsea with minimal success and saw the Seagulls beaten 4-0. However, with this season’s centre-halfs, it could be worth a try. Below is how Brighton could lineup in this formation:

Brighton would use a back three of Lewis Dunk, Shane Duffy and new signing Leon Balogun. The perks of putting Balogun into the back three is that he is the most experienced of the three centre-halfs, being the oldest at 30. Balogun also has experience of playing in a three-man defence back there for Nigeria, and this has been evident in this summer’s World Cup.

The manager also has to decide on the wing backs. Probably the two that Hughton would go with are Bernardo and Schelotto, due to their ability to get up and down the wings very quickly. 

The only other big challenge for Hughton with this formation would be the front three, and last time Brighton adopted a three at the back, they decided to pick Gross over Knockaert. This is due to the fact, Brighton would lose a lot of creativity and their set-piece taker if they took Gross out of the team. Also Gross has been so influential since joining the Seagulls that it would be hard to take him out.

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