Graham Potter believes Pascal Gross is arguably in the best shape of his career after the German helped high-flying Brighton continue their strong Premier League start to the season.
Creative midfielder Gross scored the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Leeds – his third goal of the season – extending Albion’s top-flight unbeaten run to a club record of nine games.
The Seagulls are only two points behind leaders Arsenal after three wins and one draw in their first four games.
Gross has already surpassed his number of goals last season, having also scored two goals in his team’s first weekend win against Manchester United.
Coach Potter, who jokingly referred to ongoing questions about the signing of a “20-goal striker”, hopes the 31-year-old can continue to make key contributions.
“It’s part of the challenge,” said Potter, who allowed last season’s top scorer Neal Maupay to join Everton on Friday. “Instead of waiting for an individual, can others seek goals?
“Pascal is probably performing at the level of his career; definitely the level of him since I have been working with him.
“If other people can score and take the weight off this 20-goal striker we’re going to get, then that would help us.
“As I pointed out the other day, there are only two in the Premier League (last season: Son Heung-min and Mohamed Salah), so it’s not that simple.”
Gross calmly scored the deciding goal in the 66th minute after being pulled up by Leandro Trossard.
Brighton, who have squandered a number of previous chances, were booed by sections of their support after a goalless draw with Leeds last November.
Potter responded to fans on that occasion and contented himself with avoiding a repeated 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 a question of emotions. People have a right to their opinion and I also have a right to communicate mine, and that’s fine.
“No problem. We keep working. Luckily we made some steps. The start was really good. The guys are playing at a really good level.
“They have been doing it consistently over a period of time, so we have to make sure we continue like this.”
Leeds were comfortably in second place in the first half on the South Coast but improved after half-time, aided by the introduction of substitutes Mateusz Klich and Luis Sinisterra.
Manager Jesse Marsch is considering changes for Tuesday night’s meeting with Everton on Elland Road.
“I was really excited to bring them out, I thought they could help and they did,” he said.
“Everton will be another great test and we need to look at where the boys are physically and tap into our roster in the right way and field a team 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 any chances with the defender, who played 45 minutes in the Carabao Cup midweek win against Barnsley, but has not yet appeared in the league this season.
“It picked up something in the calf and so we decided to be a little safe,” Marsch said.
“We’re disappointed, but it’s not bad.”