Brighton continued their excellent form this afternoon, hammering Wolves 6-0 in their Premier League clash at the Amex this afternoon.
Roberto De Zerbi's side have made an unlikely challenge for European football this season, finding themselves in eighth place ahead of this weekend's fixtures. A top six finish is certainly not out of reach in the closing weeks of the campaign, especially after today's result.
Despite making a number of changes to the side, they would find themselves 4-0 up inside the opening 40 minutes. They would go on to hammer home that advantage in the second half, ultimately emerging as winners by a six-goal margin.
The result leaves them two points off fifth place, having played two less games than both Spurs and Aston Villa.
Paul Merson comments look awful after Brighton win over Wolves
Roberto De Zerbi opted to make a number of changes to his starting XI for this game, with the likes of Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister, Kaoru Mitomo, and Levi Colwill all on the bench.
It was likely that he took this decision due to the hectic fixture schedule, with this being Brighton's third game in seven days (one of which went to extra-time), and having another fixture against Manchester United on Thursday on the horizon. In any case, the changed had little impact on their performance against Julen Lopetegui's side.
However, Paul Merson had a rather different view of the changes.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he made the bizarre claim before the game that De Zerbi rested players in an effort to lose the game as he did not want his team to play European football next season.
🗣️ "He doesn't think they're ready for Europe?" 😳
Paul Merson suggests that Roberto De Zerbi's team selection may be him not wanting Brighton to qualify for a European competition pic.twitter.com/yhc0jRPyVY
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) April 29, 2023
Merson: The only thing I can think of is that he doesn't think they're ready for Europe.
Stelling: You mean that he doesn't want to be in Europe?
Merson: I wouldn't be surprised, I wouldn't be surprised.
Stelling: But that's got to be the ambition, they've never been in Europe.
Merson: Yeah but the Europa Conference League, my vets team are in that! That's the only way I can look at it, how could you look at it any other way? They've rested their five best players. What are they going to do after the game? Do box to boxes on the pitch.
He's probably thinking 'we've had a great season, we've got to be up there again next season'.
Yeah, that went well.
This argument was a ridiculous one, even before the result of today's game was known. Brighton will be desperate to play in Europe next season, with continental football being a fantastic reward for what has been a brilliant season.
His Europa Conference League argument also doesn't stand up, as Brighton currently look like favourites for a fifth-placed finish. The teams in fifth and sixth will play in the Europa League next season, not the third tier competition.
It was a stupid statement to make, in more ways than one.