Gus Poyeta��s Brighton have more or less picked up where they left off last season. Although results flagged a little after promotion and the League One title was secured in May, with home defeats to Huddersfield and Southampton blotting the copy book, the same possession-based, short-passing style of play is very much evident both at home in their new stadium and on the road.

16 points from a possible 21 are testament to this and suggest that the squad is coping well with the step up in quality. With the example of Norwich last season, who flew through the Championship in just one season, there is every possibility that Brighton could follow suit, although it is still early days.

Former Chelsea man Gus Poyet is a success story at Brighton..

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When Poyet arrived at the club in November 2009, bringing assistant Mauricio Taricco, a former team-mate at Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton sat in the lower reaches of League One and stability was the main aim. He began well, securing an impressive 3-1 victory away at south coast rivals Southampton and saw the season out without too much fuss, leading the club to a comfortable mid-table finish.

During the summer of 2010, Poyet signed a new four-year contract and started to make his mark on the club. As well as making a handful of signings, he established a development squad to bridge the gap between the cluba��s youth and first teams. Slightly different from the traditional reserve team setup and a new project for a lower league club, Poyet explains that the development squad allows young players to progress from the under-18 team and a�?understand the demands of first team football, in terms of fitness, physical attributes, technique and understandinga�?.

The major change, however, has been on the pitch where Poyet has introduced a style of play which is based on possession and progressive, short passing which creates and then exploits plenty of opportunities. The system relies on players being comfortable in possession and confident in each othersa�� ability to receive the ball under pressure and while some supporters took time to accept the style – which brings a higher level of risk – they soon came on board when results settled down. Brighton reached top spot in League One in the 8th game of the 2010-11 season and stayed there until the end; such was the impact of Poyet’s style.

The summer transfer window of 2011 started a little worryingly, with the departure of Glenn Murray – last season’s leading scorer – and Elliot Bennett – player of the year. However, they were
replaced with quality players in the form of Will Buckley from Watford, Will Hoskins from Bristol Rovers, Kazenga Lua-Lua from Newcastle and Craig Mackail-Smith from Peterborough.

The best was saved for last, though, with a deadline day coup in the form of Vicente Rodriquez on a free transfer from Spanish giants Valencia. The left winger, capped 38 times by Spain, was once valued at A?30m and has won 2 La Liga titles, the UEFA Cup and featured in the Champions League final. On signing, Rodriguez stated that the opportunity to play under Poyet and Brightona��s style of play were deciding factors in his move.

As mentioned earlier, Brighton have picked up where they left off in the league and crucially, have not found a need to modify their style of play in the higher division. The new players have blended seamlessly and complemented the existing spine of the side. They play ambitious, attacking football and stick to their principles even when the game seems not to be panning out as they would wish.

Poyet believes strongly in his philosophy and his tactics and will not back down from them easily. This was shown in a recent game away to Bristol City. With the game heading towards a goalless draw, Poyet introduced two attacking players, Lua-Lua and Buckley, with twenty minutes remaining on the clock.A�Rather than sitting back for an away point, Poyet’s gamble paid off and Brighton won by a solitary goal. As he said himself a�?I could have brought off a striker and brought on another defender, but youa��ve got to believe and we did thata�?.

The Amex stadium in full voice..

The style of play seems to reflect Poyeta��s personality a�� positive, vibrant and outgoing. Nicknamed a�?La Radioa�� in his playing days due to his apparent inability to stay quiet, Poyet played football the same way, with passion and enthusiasm and stands out as one of the better foreign imports to have played in the English Premier League.

Liverpool have every reason to fear playing Brighton, at present; especially if you factor in the Merseyside club’s latest away-day problems. Last season, while the league was the priority, the League Cup held little interest for Poyet and his team selection and subsequent first round defeat to Northampton Town reflected this.A�This term, though, winning every game and developing momentum seems to be the aim and games against Gillingham and Sunderland have featured more or less full strength sides.

The game will be a sell-out at their new home, a�?the Amexa�� and the unbeaten home record will be fiercely defended. On the flip side, Kenny Dalglisha��s team, free of the distractions of European football and having shown signs of promise early this season will be targeting the League Cup as their first domestic trophy since 2006a��s FA Cup win.

The visit of Liverpool marks ‘The Amex’ stadium’sA�first major fixture, and don’t be surprised if it marks the stadium’s first memorable upset.

—–

Written by guest authorA�Ben Rawlings
You can follow the author on twitter @benrawlings77

Follow us on twitterA�@TheHardTackle

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