It’s back! The Premier League has returned! After months of sitting around twiddling our thumbs and flicking through Belarusian Premier League results to get our football fix, our beloved top-flight has returned. For many clubs, this is great news. However, the prospect of ‘null and void’ was better news to the fans of relegation-battling teams, such as Brighton. With nine games left to save our Premier League status and the toughest run-in of all teams in the league, selfishly, the return of football was as much bad news as it was good news.

However, the Seagulls have returned reenergized, refreshed and look full of fight and belief. Brighton fans would have bit your hand off at the prospect of four points from games against Arsenal and Leicester – but no cannibalism was required as the Seagulls delivered just that.

A 95th minute winner from Neal Maupay secured a well-deserved 2-1 victory over Arsenal last Saturday, much to the disbelief of moneybags Matteo Guendouzi. Then a tough and gritty performance away at Leicester three days later meant that Graham Potters men now sit six points above the relegation zone.

In this week’s article I will be scoring each player out of ten for their performances in those two games, with some real standout performances getting the plaudits they deserve.

Maty Ryan – 7

The Aussie played in both games and didn’t really have the most to do. The keeper commanded his box and pulled off a handful of smart and important saves, however Nicholas Pepe’s goal wasn’t the greatest of strikes and you may expect a taller goalkeeper to tip that over, so he may been disappointed not to get a hand to the Ivorians curling effort. Overall, two solid performances.

Tariq Lamptey – 9

This 19-year-old made an unbelievable debut against Leicester, putting in a man of the match display despite taking a battering elbow to the face in the first 45 minutes. The ex-Chelsea defender showed confidence at both ends of the pitch, using his speed and determination to race up and down the wing all game long. I am sure many will agree, with displays like that, Lamptey might just have secured himself the right-back position for many seasons to come.

Adam Webster – 7

Central defender Webster certainly returned from the break in a rich vein of form, looking a lot more assured in possession and the clumsy side of his game seemed to have disappeared. Frustratingly, what appeared to be a hamstring injury 24minutes into the first half may have postponed the ‘new and improved’ Webster for a short while.

Lewis Dunk – 8

Averaging more goal contributions (goals/assists) per minute to Wilfred Zaha, the captain continued where he left off with another goal. The centre-back has been pivotal to the Seagulls all season long and he again showed why Potter will be desperate to keep the Brighton-born defender at the South Coast, blocking shot after shot and dictating the tempo of both matches with his ever-improving footwork. With Dunk performing to this high level all season long, you can’t help but scratch your head as to why he only has one England cap to his name.

Dan Burn – 6

The tallest fullback in the world wasn’t the most influential in either matches, however the 6ft7in defender did do incredibly well to handle Nicolas Pepe and Demarai Gray in both matches. Unremarkable but solid.

Shane Duffy – 7

The injury to Webster in the Leicester City fixture has opened the door for Shane Duffy to show my he deserves to be a regular starter for the remaining fixtures. The Irishman made a good impact of the bench, his willingness to put his body in front of literally anything is always a bonus! However, the central defender did only have 58% passing accuracy, which would certainly need to improve if he is to slide effortlessly into the possession-based football Brighton now play.

Ezequiel Schelotto – 6

‘The Greyhound’ was up to his old tricks again versus Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, making some extensive sprints from inside his own half to get on the attack and giving the opposition another body to think about. Despite the praise he received for his attacking work rate, this performance from the Italian was also one of his best defensively, dealing incredibly well with the clearly talented Bukayo Saka and overlapping Kieran Tierney.

Martin Montoya – 6

A professional performance from Montoya as per, but you’d expect him to really raise his game if given another opportunity soon considering how Lamptey flourished against Leicester. Despite not being the biggest presence in the final third, the defence always looks more solid with Montoya amongst it.

Yves Bissouma – 9

Excellent. Nothing more, nothing less. Bissouma has returned to the Premier League in fine form and has really made the deep-lying playmaker role his own in Brighton’s ever-rotating 4-4-2. The Malian was especially superb up against the Gunners, where he battled hard in the midfield and halted nearly every attack – somehow also escaping a booking! If Bissouma continues as he is, the 23-year-old will be vital to staying above the bottom three.

Dale Stephens – 6

Mr Consistent. Dale Stephens has always been at the centre of blame for Brighton in recent seasons, with his ‘intercept and reset’ playstyle being slandered by fans that expect to win every game – however his two performances since resumption may have silenced a few of those critics. Unsurprisingly, the Englishman made little impact in his seven minute cameo against Arsenal – but his 90 minutes against Leicester showed that in games where Brighton need to drop deeper and defend more, Stephens is crucial.

Pascal Gross – 6

Brighton and Hove Albion’s 2017-18 Player of the Year put in a typical Pascal Gross performance, linking the midfield with the attack well and working incredibly hard to get back and forth. With only 60 minutes to his name over the two fixtures, its unsurprising that the German wasn’t more effective, however Potter won’t be disappointed by his performance.

Davy Propper – 7

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know how important I think Propper is. And again, the Dutchman kept the wheels turning in the new and improved side. His work rate in the Arsenal victory was immense and he carried the ball out of defence very well, not many of the Brighton squad attempt this and instead opt for the long pass, showcasing the belief and confidence Propper has in his own ability. Resting the versatile midfielder against the Foxes did seem a wise move considering Manchester United are going to be a very difficult opposition.

Aaron Mooy – 6

Another midfielder who keeps the ball ticking without doing anything spectacular, Mooy put in two strong performances. The Australian is slowly growing into his role on the wide-right and showed his ability to pick a pass well against Leicester, often playing long passes behind the Foxes back four for the forwards to latch on to.

Alexis Mac Allister – 8

Was he worth the wait? Yes. Mac Allister looked the player Brighton fans were all hoping he would be – attacking-minded, creative and not afraid to take on his man. He was pivotal in the build-up for Maupay’s goal and then played a very good 60 minutes against Leicester. It seemed that Mac Allister could do everything than Gross does but at a quicker temper, therefore with the counter-attacking football Brighton have been playing, it would be no surprise to see him push the German out of the starting line-up.

Solly March – 5

The 25-year-old again showed his versatility in the two performances, playing as a high-pressing winger in one game and a wing-back role in the other. The Englishman displayed good energy but his lapse in concentration proved costly, letting Pepe cut on to his favoured left foot and bend a shot into the far corner was a poor defensive decision, which this season has been very unlike Solly.

Aaron Connolly – 8

The Irish wonderkid again proved why he warrants more than just a few minutes in the dying embers of fixtures. His perfectly weighted pass for Maupay was ingenious and then his energy and work ethic when he started against Leicester was admirable, shown by how the striker forced the penalty by chasing a loose ball that many centre forwards would have given up on. With more game time and adding to his goal tally, you can only see Connolly developing into a top quality finisher.

Neal Maupay – 7

The media brushed over the excellence of Maupay’s performance last weekend, instead opting to discuss his controversial challenge on Bernd Leno, that in my opinion was a complete freak accident blown out of proportion due to the keeper’s finger wagging. The former Brentford striker was pretty quiet against Leicester, where the emphasis was on playing to Connolly’s strengths rather than his, however he still held the ball up well and was a presence in the final third. There is certainly a case for the top scorer to have been rated higher than seven, however his penalty miss was disappointing and as a striker you would expect better.

Leandro Trossard -7

Trossard was most definitely a player that has returned from the unexpected break looking fitter, stronger and full of fight. His shift to the number 10 role looks to have brought out a more defensive side of the Belgian international that we haven’t seen before, which is certainly what his game lacked beforehand. The former Genk captain displayed great quick feet in both games, as well as making some very clever runs in the Arsenal game to isolate their already vulnerable defence.  

Glenn Murray – 5

The veteran striker has only played eight minutes since the return of football which makes him incredibly difficult to rate. However, in the dying embers of the Leicester match he looked a bit sloppy and out of rhythm with a very misplaced pass but if given longer, I’m sure he would have made a more positive impact.

Well that’s a wrap from me. All 19 players that have featured since the resumption rated and analysed. This week I have opted for a less formal column and added more opinion-based analysis rather than statistics, so if this is something that is preferred then let me know! Any sort of result against the Red Devils would be sensational for morale and for our league status, so fingers crossed.

As ever, speak soon and stay safe.

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