Will Shane Duffy start for Brighton against Watford and Graham Potter's big issue with Ismaïla Sarr
Albion could hardly have set-up their first home match of the new Premier League season against Watford this Saturday any better.
It all looked a little jittery and a bit shaky in the first half at Burnley last week but game changers from the bench in Adam Lallana, Jakub Moder and Alexis Mac Allister helped Graham Potter’s men to a morale boosting three points.
The win was a real bonus considering the Seagulls went into the match a little under-cooked to say the least.
Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster will be all the better for 90 minutes under their belts, having played hardly at all in pre-season while Shane Duffy – who for the best will in the world – looked certain for the Amex exit door has played himself back into contention.
Duffy made the most of his opportunity at Turf Moor and whether he retains his place for the visit of newly promoted Watford is one of the more intriguing sub plots of Albion’s first match at the Amex of 2021-22.
Duffy had a terrible time on his loan at Celtic but he remains a hugely popular figure with Albion fans and what a story it would be to see him playing in front of a full house at the Amex in the Premier League.
Duffy perhaps isn’t your typical Potter type player but with Joel Veltman and Dan Burn struggling for fitness, it really could be a case of right place at the right time for Duffy. Few players will receive a bigger cheer on Saturday, that’s almost certain.
Newly promoted teams are always dangerous as Ben White and Arsenal found out against Brentford and Aston Villa did to Watford.
Xisco Munoz’s team blitzed into a 3-0 lead against Villa on the opening day last Saturday and will be full of confidence as they take on Albion in the 5.30pm kick-off.
Ismaïla Sarr was superb against Villa in their 3-2 victory and gave their left back Matt Targett such a roasting in the first half that he didn’t appear for the second. It’s an area of concern for Albion as Potter’s team still look light on the left of their defence.
"I rate him very highly," said Potter. "He has fantastic attributes. Pace in abundance and skill. He has got off to a good start in terms of assists and goals. He is attacking spaces as good as anybody.
"They have an organisation and a team that can defend, it sets them up for opportunities. They will provide a different challenge to the one we had at Burnley. But it will be equally as tough.
"We lost Ben (White) of course, we have had to adjust to that. Pre-season we lost Adam (Webster) and Lewis (Dunk) for 60 per cent of that time.
"It was not easy to find the right solution with those two not there. Then Dan (Burn) was injured against Luton and Joel (Veltman) with his situation as well.
"The timing of these things has not been perfect. We find solutions and be creative if you need to be."
The transfer window remains open and they continue to be linked with Getafe’s £15m left sided defender Marc Cucurella.
He would be a sound addition but it’s likely Potter will go with Webster on the left side of the defensive trio with Solly March offering defensive support against the potent threat of Sarr.
It was encouraging to see March back last Saturday. The 26-year-old hadn’t featured since injuring his knee at Liverpool last season and 90 minutes at Turf Moor will have boosted his confidence no end.
He was mainly forced into defensive duties but as his sharpness returns he will hope to offer Albion more of an attacking threat too.
All three of Brighton’s game changers from last Saturday will be pushing for a starting role against Watford. Lallana, 33, proved what a vital part he still has to play for the team and is one of the few players at Brighton capable of controlling a match from midfield.
His presence and class on the ball made all the difference in Albion’s comeback and provided the platform for Brighton to take the game to Burnley.
Lallana at his best makes the game look so effortless you wonder why others can’t do the same. But that’s what the best do, they make it look easy.
Keeping him fit and managing his workload is a constant concern for Potter but in Yves Bissouma, Enock Mwepu and Moder, Lallana has some serious athletes around him which should allow the former Liverpool and England midfielder to do what he does.
Neal Maupay looked sharp against Burnley. He got the goal his performance warranted and will look to continue his flying start against Watford.
The game however will likely arrive too soon for Danny Welbeck – Watford fans won’t be too surprised to see him on the injury list.