Brighton feels the pinch after losing key midfielders

Brighton has yet to hit the heights of last season, but still managed to record its first European win when it defeated Ajax 2-0 in the Europa League last week.

It followed that result with a 1-1 draw against Fulham in the English Premier League – meaning it has only one win from five domestic games.

It now has a run of games considered ‘winnable’ – against Everton, Sheffield United, and Nottingham Forest – but only if it gets its act together.

The Seagulls have not been the same since losing key midfielders Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister in the summer, even though they bought capable replacements in Carlos Baleba and Mahmoud Dahoud.

Baleba and Dahoud have shone in patches but lack the consistency and quality of Caicedo and Mac Allister, but given they are only 19 and 21 respectively, they can certainly grow into their roles.

Under Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton has become a joy to watch. It finished sixth last season with 62 points to qualify for Europe for the first time.

This season, despite a poor run of late, it sits seventh on 17 points but only six points adrift of the Champions League spot.

It faces an unpredictable Everton at Goodison Park, with the Toffees 15th, with 10 points.

The Merseyside outfit has won three of its last five matches after failing to win any of its opening five games.

The club’s chairman, Bill Kenwright, died last week, and the players are determined to remain in the top flight to honour his memory.

They put on a superb performance at Goodison Park on Thursday morning to beat Burnley 3-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the League Cup, where they will face Fulham in December.

After the Brighton game, Everton’s next two EPL games are against Crystal Palace and Manchester United.

Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who netted the winner against West Ham last weekend, has developed into an unstoppable forward but needs to stay clear of injuries to make an impact this season.

Since the 2021-2022 season, the Englishman has missed 53 matches through various injuries.

If he can stay fit, he can fire Everton up the table.

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Fulham vs Manchester United (8.30pm)
Brentford vs West Ham (11pm)
Manchester City vs Bournemouth (11pm)
Sheffield United vs Wolves (11pm)
Burnley vs Crystal Palace (11pm)
Everton vs Brighton (11pm)

Newcastle vs Arsenal (1.30am)
Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa (10pm)

Luton vs Liverpool (12.30am)

Tottenham vs Chelsea (4am)