Graham Potter is confident Brighton are on an upward trajectory as he claimed his side are “better at everything” than they were at the same stage last season.
The Seagulls are six points clear of the relegation zone with nine games of the campaign to go, the same number of fixtures they had when the 2019-20 season was halted for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Brighton went on to comfortably secure their top-flight place and while Potter acknowledged making comparisons between then and now is difficult, he is convinced his side are a much tougher proposition than they were.
“As a team we’re better now, we’re stronger now in pretty much every area, if you were to analyse our performance we’re better at everything,” he said. “In terms of our ability to get results, I think we’re stronger than we were.
“In terms of how we’re playing I think we’re stronger than we were this time last year.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the results, you’ve still got to go and get them, but I feel the group is in a better place and we’re looking forward to the last nine matches.”
Back-to-back wins over Southampton and Newcastle before the international break lifted Brighton to 32 points, ensuring some much-welcomed breathing space between themselves and those languishing in the bottom three.
However, Potter was reluctant to set a target for his side when asked how many points he thought they needed to beat the drop ahead of their trip to take on high-flying Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.
“No idea is the truth but I know we haven’t got enough now, so we have to keep going,” he said.
“The only way you can really take charge of your own position is just to focus on yourself and the next match, which is an opportunity to get three points and that’s what we’ll focus on.
“In terms of how many points we need, there’s no point worrying about that too much.”
Leandro Trossard scored his third and fourth league goals of the season against Southampton and Newcastle respectively, and he continued his recent hot streak with a double for Belgium against Belarus on Tuesday.
Potter admitted Trossard has had a forgettable campaign but is heartened that the winger seems to be growing in confidence.
“He’s had a frustrating season,” Potter added. “On other days he could have scored a lot more goals, hit the post I don’t know how many times.
“But he’s getting in the areas, taking better decisions, playing with a bit more confidence and I would use the word arrogance but not in a bad way, it’s a belief in his ability.
“I’m really pleased for him that he’s influencing the game in terms of goals and assists because that’s what he wants to do, that’s how he sees himself and he knows it’s an area of the game he had to improve.
“I think if you want to get into the Belgium side and go to the next stage of your career as a Premier League player, you have to do that.
“He’s aware of that but he’s a great lad, working very hard at his game and I’m pleased for him that he’s taking some steps.”