Brighton & Hove Albion have settled into Premier League life very well. The South Coast made shrewd investments in the summer to strengthen the team for the top-flight. Manager Chris Hughton deserves a lot of credit to bring quality players like Pascal Groß and Josè Izquierdo to the AMEX.
However, there is one man who is standing out this season and it's 34- year old veteran forward Glenn Murray. With 11 goals so far in the season, Murray has been Brighton's best performer this season alongside the German midfielder Groß.
The duo has combined for a great many numbers of goals this season and has been responsible for the club's best moments this season.
What also has to be appreciated is that Brighton's primary striker is one who has the know how to be successful in the Premier League. Someone who knows how the English top-flight works and is an inspiration to other strikers in the league. His journey from leaving Brighton to coming back has been a long one, but it seems like he chose to return during just the right period of time.
Murray feeds on quality service
With players like Groß and Anthony Knockaert in the side, Brighton have some real quality in their midfield. These midfielders help Murray excel at what he does, scoring goals from inside the box. He is a midfielder's favorite type of forward, who takes full advantage of quality service.
Brighton's system is set up to provide service to Murray, with the two wingers and fullbacks working hard down the flanks to provide the width and service. Izquierdo and Knockaert also cut inside regularly to create goal-scoring chances as well as play more centrally.
Summer acquisition Davy Pröpper has been good business from Hughton as well, alongside Dale Stephens, the Dutchman has been a figure of consistency for Brighton. His set-pieces and vision from the middle of the park have benefitted Murray hugely as well.
Groß has been Murray's creative catalyst
The acquisition of former FC Ingolstadt 04 midfielder Groß is by one of the bargains of the summer transfer window from Hughton, the German was one of the Bundesliga's best creators in terms of assists and he has been Brighton's prime creator since arriving in the summer.
More often than not, Hughton plays in a flexible 4-4-1-1 system with the German playing in behind Murray. This gives him the freedom to track back as well as impact play in the final third as much as he'd like to. This creative license has resulted in five goals and eight assists in the league for Groß. He could very well reach double figures in either by the end of the season, which would be a brilliant return in his first season in English football.
There seems to be almost a telepathic understanding between Murray and Groß, the German just knows where his forward will be in the final third. Murray's experience with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and now Brighton in the top-flight has helped him gain a better understanding of being the target man his team needs him to be.
Murray has been most effective at Brighton in the Premier League
Now, why is that? After unsuccessful spells with the Cherries and at Palace, Murray seems to have found his feet at Hughton's Seagulls. This is because he plays in a system which favors his style of play.
Brighton's wide players are always looking up to find Murray's head in the box to cross to, the Englishman is also the first priority at any set-piece situation, as are Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy as well. However, what sets Murray apart is knowing where to be when the ball drops into the box.
Hughton's simple 4-4-1-1 system means that more often than not, chances end up at Murray's feet and he has taken them, on most occasions, resulting in the 11 goals he's scored. He could have had more, however, his goals have been very valuable in terms of their points return for the Seagulls.
More goals than anyone else in the bottom half
Brighton are currently 12th in the league standings. And with 34 points accumulated in 30 games so far this season, Hughton can rest assured that the Seagulls will enjoy another campaign of Premier League football in the coming season.
What's interesting is that Murray has been at Brighton for a while now. In fact, this is actually his second spell with the south coast club, he spent three years with Brighton between 2008-2011 scoring more than 50 goals in more than a century of appearances for the Seagulls.
He returned to Brighton for a loan spell from Bournemouth in July 2016 and resigned permanently in January last year. Murray led Brighton's charge for promotion last season in the EFL Championship with 23 goals scored to help Brighton secure promotion to the top flight.
When you compare his current tally of 11 goals in the league, he has more goals than any other forward in the teams below Brighton in the table. Luka Milivojević has eight goals, however, most of his goals have come from the penalty spot. In terms of forwards, Murray is head and shoulders above most Premier League strikers, thanks to his experience and his know-how of the English game.
At the age of 34, Murray may be in the twilight of his career, but age has never stopped any player from performing, and for Murray, it's only a matter of time before he scores another goal, assisted by who else, but Groß.