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Roberto De Zerbi admits Brighton are daring to dream about the possibility of playing in Europe next season.
Kaoru Mitoma’s 87th-minute header made the difference in Saturday’s dramatic 1-0 win over Bournemouth, and also ensured Albion have now picked up 13 points from their last six Premier League contests.
Victory left Brighton sixth in the table at the weekend’s close, with the surging Seagulls also still in contention for the FA Cup after beating holders Liverpool in round four.
Asked what continental qualification could mean for his club’s stature, however, De Zerbi said: “You have to ask this question of [Brighton owner] Tony [Bloom].
“For sure we would like to try to arrive in the Europa League, but for the level of the club, it is not my problem. I don’t know the politics of the club. I can’t decide, no?
“I can decide the way in terms of quality of play, in terms of style of play, yes, the first 11, but the politics of the club, no.”
Still, something seems to be clicking for Brighton and their boss, who took over following Graham Potter’s move to Chelsea in September.
De Zerbi’s side have picked up 21 Premier League points in his tenure and in November knocked league leaders Arsenal out of the Carabao Cup, but the boss was wary about looking in the rear-view mirror.
“I’m used to thinking about the next game,” said De Zerbi, whose side next travel to Selhurst Park. “I am not able to think about the past. My vision is only of Crystal Palace.
“If you ask me if I am happy? Yes. I’m happy for the results, the performances, the relationship with my players, my club, my fans, but about the results, I’m happy but we have to finish the season.”
Mitoma’s late winner was a devastating blow to Gary O’Neil’s Bournemouth, who slumped to 19th after fellow relegation-battlers Everton shocked Arsenal with a 1-0 victory.
O’Neil handed Cherries debuts to new additions Hamed Traore and Antoine Semenyo, two of his six January signings.
“I’m disappointed for the lads because they gave a lot, and they deserve some points,” said O’Neil. “I thought Semenyo and Traore were very good, I thought they were a big reason as to why we were a threat. I thought Dango [Ouattara] was excellent as well.
“I was pleased with the new lads, pleased with how they settled, so there were some positives.”
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