Irish Daily Mail




Influentia­l: Kaoru Mitoma is a key figure for Brighton

attackers, sometimes six, if the remaining full back flies up their wing in tow. Mac Allister and March can pick up the pockets behind the opposing midfield and go to work. Mitoma tends to stay fixed towards the left, but he can also move across the front line to join in with Brighton’s slick interchang­ing of passes and movement. It isn’t dissimilar to what Arsenal or Manchester City do with their full backs, and West Ham simply could not cope last weekend. Mitoma’s goal perfectly exemplifie­d this recurring routine of movement by Brighton. It starts with right back Veltman, having moved into midfield, playing a one-two with Gross. Veltman then punches a forward pass into Ferguson, who lays it off for March. His movement inside from the right wing gives Gross time and space to secure his wide-right position. March, travelling infield, takes two players with him before playing a reverse pass into Gross’s path. Gross then slides the ball to the back post for a tap-in for Mitoma, who’s patiently held his position on the left. This whole move was a thing of beauty and a goal perfected in practice. It is important to remember none of this would have been possible if Brighton didn’t have a full back giving them the extra man in midfield. Mitoma, Mac Allister and March have 21 goals between them this season. All three are producing eyecatchin­g performanc­es. March is in the best form of his career and has never stood a better chance of an England call-up. It isn’t only about the attackers, though. Brighton benefit from having Adam Webster and Lewis Dunk in defence. They are like two bouncers, perfectly happy to mind the back door while everybody else wanders forward, and are comfortabl­e in possession and outstandin­g in the air. De Zerbi will know how Leeds love to press high up the pitch and that battle will decide who wins today’s game. When West Ham attempted to press they couldn’t get close. The Brighton boss has taken this group to another level and he will be targeting this game as one to win to keep alive their top-four dreams.

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