If Brighton are to survive their first ever season in the Premier League, defensive resilience will be essential. The Seagulls have already exceeded the expectations of some to claim seven points from their first seven games, but Chris Hughton will be more than aware his side lack the attacking quality to try and outscore their opponents every weekend.
After losing their first two games of the season by a 2-0 scoreline, Brighton have shown improvements defensively in recent weeks – in fact, their last five outings have seen just five goals conceded and two clean sheets claimed against Watford and Newcastle – and centre-back Shane Duffy has played a crucial part.
He’s been a real rock at the back for Brighton and it was a similar case in Ireland’s all-or-nothing World Cup qualifier against Wales last night, the 25-year-old arguably the Man of the Match in a rear-guard performance that saw Martin O’Neill’s boys shut out the Dragons and take a huge goal on the break through James McClean.
Duffy completed a staggering 19 clearances last night – the most of any player on the pitch – alongside three tackles, three interceptions and one block, while winning eight aerial duels. Aside from McClean, he was the biggest threat to Wayne Hennessey conceding as well; twice popping up at set pieces to produce an effort at goal.
If Duffy can maintain that form at the heart of Brighton’s defence for the remainder of the campaign, the south coast outfit will fancy their chances of beating the Premier League’s drop zone. He will, however, face far more talented attacks than Wales’ before the 2017/18 campaign comes to a close.