Graham Potter expects Southampton to provide ‘toughest’ test of Brighton tenure

Brighton boss Graham Potter expects struggling Southampton to provide the sternest test of his short tenure as a Premier League manager.

Potter has made an impressive start with the Seagulls, winning convincingly at Watford before his side dominated last weekend’s draw with West Ham.

South coast rivals Saints arrive at the Amex Stadium on Saturday having lost successive top-flight games against Burnley and Liverpool.

However, Potter is a big admirer of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team and played down the significance of the clubs’ contrasting starts to the season.

“Points at this stage can be misleading. I think if you look at their performance against Liverpool, especially, they were unlucky not to take anything,” said Potter.

“I think it will be our toughest game so far because of how Southampton are and how they play.

“I’m really impressed with what they’ve done, with what they bring and how they try and play football, so for us we’re still at the stage where every single game is a big, big fight for us to take the points.

“And we don’t think too much about what is predicted to happen or, on paper, what should happen.

“It’s another Premier League game, we have to focus on an opportunity to win but we know also that the teams we are playing against can beat us so we have to go with that humility and try our best.”

Before replacing the sacked Chris Hughton in May, Potter’s only previous Premier League experience was gained as a Southampton player during the 1996-97 season.

The 44-year-old made eight top-flight appearances for a Saints side led by the attacking talents of Matt Le Tissier, Eyal Berkovic and Egil Ostenstad.

He recalls that era being a pivotal phase for the growth of English football.

“It was just the start of the Premier League, I think it was the first influx of foreign players – (Roberto) Di Matteo, that group, if my memory serves me correct,” he said.

“Dennis Bergkamp might have been coming into the league at that point and it’s just grown and grown, the profile across the world, it’s become the destination league.

“In terms of how the game is played, I think it’s played quicker because of how everything has developed, sports science has had that influence.

“It wasn’t so long before we (English clubs) were in that European ban (following the 1985 Heysel Stadium disaster) so English football was a bit insular and I think the Premier League has allowed an influx of people from all over the world and made the product fantastic.”

Albion have no fresh injury concerns but winger Jose Izquierdo, defender Ezequiel Schelotto (both knee) and midfielder Yves Bissouma (shoulder) remain sidelined.

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