Graham Potter believes Pascal Gross is arguably in the best form of his career after the German helped high-flying Brighton continue their strong start to the Premier League season.
Creative midfielder Gross hit the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Leeds – his third goal of the campaign – to extend Albion’s unbeaten top-flight run to a club-record nine games.
The Seagulls sit just two points behind early leaders Arsenal following three wins and a draw from their opening four fixtures.
Gross has already surpassed his goal tally from last term, having also scored twice in his side’s opening-weekend win at Manchester United.
Head coach Potter, who jokingly referenced ongoing questions about signing a “20-goal striker”, hopes the 31-year-old can keep making key contributions.
“That’s part of the challenge,” said Potter, who on Friday allowed last season’s top scorer Neal Maupay to join Everton. “Rather than wait for one individual, can others pop up for goals?
“Pascal is probably performing at the level of his career; certainly his level since I’ve been working with him.
“If other people can score and take the weight off this 20-goal striker that we’re going to get, then that would help us.
“As I pointed out the other day, there are only two of those in the Premier League (last season: Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah), so it’s not so simple.”
Gross calmly slotted home the decisive goal in the 66th minute after being teed up by Leandro Trossard.
Brighton, who squandered a host of earlier chances, were booed off by sections of their support following a goalless draw with Leeds last November.
Potter hit back at fans on that occasion and was content to avoid a repeat scenario.
“We were eighth in the Premier League at that point,” he said. “But I also understand the frustration because we played well and didn’t win.
“Football is about emotions. People are entitled to have their opinion and I’m also entitled to communicate mine, and that’s fine.
“There’s no problem. We carry on working. Thankfully we’ve taken some steps. The start has been really good. The boys are playing at a really good level.
“They’ve done so consistently for a period of time, so we have to make sure we continue that.”
Leeds were comfortably second best in the first half on the south coast but improved after the break, aided by the introduction of substitutes Mateusz Klich and Luis Sinisterra.
Manager Jesse Marsch is considering changes for Tuesday evening’s meeting with Everton at Elland Road.
“I was really excited to get them on the pitch, I thought they could help and they did,” he said.
“Everton will be another big test and we have to look at where guys are physically and draw on our roster in the right way and put a team out there that we think will be ready for that match.”
Leeds were once again without club captain Liam Cooper in Sussex.
Marsch was reluctant to take risks with the defender, who played 45 minutes in the midweek Carabao Cup success over Barnsley but is yet to feature in the league this term.
“He picked up a little something in his calf and so we decided to be a little bit safe,” said Marsch.
“We’re disappointed with that but it’s not bad.”