Brighton vs Everton: The surprising statistic Rafa Benitez must overcome against Graham Potter
Brighton and Hove Albion will look to continue their fine start to the new Premier League as they welcome Rafa Benitez's Everton to the Amex Stadium
The Amex hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Everton, failing to win on their four visits. Rafa Benitez will hope to turn the tide.
Brighton have won two and drawn the other two meetings at home, but it will be a first meeting between the managers with Benitez leaving Newcastle as Graham Potter joined the Seagulls.
Having only just won their first two Premier League games for the first time in their history, Brighton will be hoping Benitez doesn’t claim his 170th win in the English topflight. He is the first foreign manager to take charge of four teams in England having managed 343 games over four clubs to date: Liverpool, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Everton.
It’s not been an easy summer with Carlo Ancelotti’s exit at the start of June followed by Bernard suggesting people ‘don’t know half of what happens behind the scenes’ in an Instagram post after he left for Sharjah FC this summer.
The former Liverpool manager must try to win over fans of a club he was the rival of for six seasons. This wasn’t helped by a 4-0 loss to Manchester United in pre-season.
After the Southampton victory Benitez said, “Performance is the key. To see that the players care, and the players try means that we are together and then the fans they will appreciate that.”
Getting players on the pitch has been a struggle. James Rodriguez hasn’t made an appearance so far in the opening two Premier League games. Another four players have also not featured, these include Moise Kean, Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin.
Gomes, Gbamin and Kean played in Everton’s 2-1 Carabao Cup win at Huddersfield with the latter receiving a red card for an off-the-ball incident with opposing player Sorba Thomas – he won’t feature against Brighton.
Two players who are likely to feature are new additions Andros Townsend, who joined on a free transfer after leaving Crystal Palace, and Demarai Gray who joined for £1.5million from Bayer Leverkusen.
Townsend scored the winning goal in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win and an assist on his Everton debut while Gray scored the Toffees’ second in a 2-2 draw with Leeds at Goodison Park.
It is the latter’s relationship with last year’s top goal scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin which Brighton will be wary of. Many see this as a make-or-break season for the former Leicester winger, but the early signs are promising. His pace and trickery get him into dangerous wide areas where his crossing ability has yet to be capitalised on by Calvert-Lewin.
The striker himself is looking for a third consecutive season scoring over 10 goals, having only scored 11 in his first three Premier League seasons.
Two goals in the first two rounds of this season suggest he’s made a promising start.