Ian Hart: Could anyone have predicted Brighton's start to the Premier League season?

Florin Andone if off to Galatasaray
Florin Andone if off to Galatasaray

As has been said on many occasions down the years, it’s never dull supporting the Albion but could anyone have predicted that start to the Premier League season?

The emphatic 3-0 victory at Watford was the perfect start for new boss Graham Potter.

The memorable afternoon actually began with derision in some quarters with the pre-match announcement of the Albion line-up - I won’t embarrass my friend by naming him - but as soon as the team was put out I received a text stating, ‘same old boring team sheet.’

But was Potter’s perceived loyalty to the ‘old guard’ for the season opener a masterstroke and testament to the quality of the man Tony Bloom chose to replace the legendary Chris Hughton?

Potter clarified his decision with a post-match TV interview with Gary Lineker, stating the reason he went with effectively a line up from last season’s roster. He chose to leave his new signings on the bench, coming from what he’d seen throughout pre-season, rather than what he’d purchased in the last couple of weeks.

To a degree given the Albion’s end-of- season form last year, it was a huge gamble then again a first taste of Potter’s man management abilities.

That again came to the fore in the second half with the Albion leading, previously, and by way in no disrespect to his predecessor, Chris Hughton would have settled for 1-0 and shut up shop.

Potter went totally the other way and replaced Glenn Murray and Jurgen Locadia with another two forwards, Neal Maupay and Florin Andone, rewarded with both players getting on the scoresheet and the Albion recording one of the most unexpected results of the opening day of the season.

But victory at Vicarage Road will almost be tainted if Brighton don’t perform at the Amex this Saturday in their first home game of the season against West Ham, who themselves have a point to prove after a 5-0 drubbing at home to Manchester City.

Will Potter change the starting line up? I would imagine. Whilst there’s always a tendency not to change a winning team, by the same token there was a lot of talent on the bench at Watford and to build on the excellent start fans will accept some changes.

I spoke to a Worthing-based Hammer this week and his appraisals of his side were, ‘they will score a few but with their defensive frailties, ship a few goals as well.’ I know you could say that for a few sides in the Premier League, but if there was ever a good time to play West Ham, a side who the Albion have an excellent record against, maybe Saturday is.

Hopefully that’s not the Harty ‘kiss of death’, but I’m predicting all three points for the Albion with a 3-1 victory.

That would put them into uncharted territory as the club, in the their five previous seasons, have never started with back-to-back wins. Then again, none of us can get carried away as there’s still a long way to go.

VAR also made it’s full-time bow in the Premier League at the weekend, to a chorus of disapproval in certain quarters.

Whether people or like it or not, I think it’s here to stay.

There will obviously be some teething troubles, but ultimately if it rules out season-changing decisions that turn out to be mistakes then it has to be a level playing field for everyone, which can only be a good thing.

My one personal caveat would be the speed of decisions has to be improved - and quickly. Otherwise it will further fuel the controversy of the situation.

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