Exactly 313 minutes have gone by since Albion last conceded a goal – an impressive statistic, considering we have been without our first choice goalkeeper, Peter Brezovan and our £250,000 summer signing, captain and defender Gordon Greer.
It just goes to show that if the Seagulls are going to mount a promotion challenge this season, it is not just Glenn Murray and Ashley Barnes who need to be firing on all cylinders.
Currently, Albion’s back five consists of a goalkeeper who was cast aside by recently promoted Leeds United, two central defenders who came through the club’s youth set-up and two full-backs who arrived on free transfers from Alves and Swansea - costing the club a big fat £0 in transfer fees.
Centre back Tommy Elphick, who has been instrumental in Albion’s recent run, was this week quoted as saying: “Back fours win you championships, and strikers win you games.”
Considering Elphick only turned 23 at the start of the month, it’s refreshing to hear such an astute and philosophical phrase from a young professional footballer.
And earlier this week, the centre back continued to show his worth to the side, not only being part of the defensive unit that kept a clean sheet, but the defender also grabbed a goal in the 2-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle.
The result moves Albion up to second in League One, stretching the Seagulls’ unbeaten run to four matches, ahead of Saturday’s visit of Paul Dickov’s reformed Oldham.
With both Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday stuttering, I don’t feel we should fear anyone in this division.
I believe the lack of goals may in the end prove to be our downfall this season, but the arrival of Kazenga Lua Lua from Newcastle has gone a long way to curing that problem. The winger has blistering pace and to quote Alan Partridge ‘a foot like a traction engine’. So, while he’s on the pitch, things will happen.
The key moment of the season is when/if the Congolese midfielder returns to the Premier League side when his loan spell expires in January – especially if it coincides with injuries or suspensions to other key players.
Despite lacking a killer-instinct in front of goal, I believe we have something special about us this year.
We’re playing attractive free flowing football as manager Gus Poyet has assembled a solid team, ensuring every player is comfortable on the ball. The Uruguayan’s fluent passing style of possession, possession, possession, attack has even lead to fellow League One sides labelling us as the ‘Arsenal of the division’.
If we can keep suspensions down to a minimum and stay relatively injury free, then who knows what can be achieved this season. Chairman Tony Bloom’s ambition of championship football by the time we move in to the Amex Stadium is becoming a genuine prospect.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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