Brighton Showed in Chelsea Defeat They Could Be the Premier League's Surprise Package This Season

Brighton lost 3-1 to Chelsea on their opening Premier League fixture
Brighton lost 3-1 to Chelsea on their opening Premier League fixture | Pool/Getty Images

All eyes were on Chelsea in their opening game of the 2020/21 Premier League season, as Frank Lampard's new-look side took all three points in a 3-1 win away at Brighton.

While it's hard to argue that a 3-1 victory isn't comprehensive, this season's big spenders weren't exactly out of the woods early on in their trip down to the south coast of England. Brighton gave Chelsea a serious run for their money and only found themselves 1-0 down in the first half thanks to a penalty from a mistake at the back.

They kept pushing, however, and their desire to play progressive football earned them an equaliser 54 minutes in through Leandro Trossard. It was short-lived thanks to Reece James' thunder strike into the top corner just two minutes later, and Kurt Zouma's deflected strike eventually secured the points, but Brighton had every right to leave the Amex Stadium with their heads held high.

Luck wasn't on their side. The three goals they conceded were perhaps avoidable, but also unstoppable on Mathew Ryan's account, and they lost marquee signing Adam Lallana at the end of the first half through injury. Between the mishaps, the Seagulls looked good. Very good, actually, and by no means resembled a team being tipped for relegation by many. With a bit of fortune, it could end up being a very good season for Graham Potter's side.

Brighton have quietly assembled a very competent squad, which has put them in a much stronger position for this season. The January signing of right back Tariq Lamptey has quickly proven a shrewd piece of business.

Chelsea won't exactly miss him due to the emergence of James, but that doesn't do Lamptey justice. He put in some solid performances at the end of last season and looked even better on Monday night with a full pre-season behind him at his new club.

Lamptey is key to a new look Brighton defence, modernised with the help of both himself and Ben White, who returned from a successful season-long loan with Leeds last season. The Seagulls managed to keep hold of White despite the interest from Leeds and are already reaping the rewards. White looked like he'd been playing top flight football for years, slotting in seamlessly alongside Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk.

Losing Lallana just before half time was a tough one for Brighton and made Yves Bissouma's job in midfield even more difficult, but the 25-year-old still did himself justice. If Lallana can stay fit, the two could be crucial in finding Potter's side a few big wins throughout the season.

Ahead of them in attack, Brighton have quickly shown aggression and quality, but also versatility. Leandro Trossard was the hub behind Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly, causing problems for Chelsea on both flanks and creating chances with tidy passing sequences in danger areas.

Maupay proved last season just how much of a thorn he can be in a defender's side and will no doubt do the same this season, while Connolly's pace and pressing also makes it difficult for the opposition, which was the case at times against Chelsea.

None of this would matter, however, if they didn't have a manager to tie it all together. Potter will also prove vital to Albion this season and showed his capabilities again in their opening game. His debut season was a success, bringing Brighton their highest ever points and goals tally in Premier League history as they finished 15th.

Leandro Trossard
Potter is getting the best out of a youthful Brighton side | Pool/Getty Images

With more signings under his belt and more experience in the role, Potter has already shown another sign of striding forward this season. His side have the quality, but also the mentality and belief in themselves to play a progressive type of football. It was exactly this that saw them go behind against Chelsea, but the patience to stick to the plan was also what got them level and kept them looking a threat at times.

Of course it's early days and the entire season is still to be played, but the signs show that Brighton could be the dark horse in the Premier League. Defeat to a solid - and very expensive - Chelsea side is hardly a result to be embarrassed about, and the squad showed a newfound level of maturity and confidence throughout the game.

There's still a long campaign ahead and work to be done to make good on the promise, but if they can continue in this direction, Brighton could push for another Premier League best this season and even knock on the door of the top half of the table.