It has been a dream debut campaign from Neal Maupay who signed a four-year contract a year ago today.
The Frenchman arrived with a glowing CV after beginning his career at home in France before earning a move to Championship outfit Brentford.
Two years at Griffin Park saw the striker become one of the deadliest in the second tier, so it came as no surprise when he moved up into the Premier League.
Hornets downed on debut – Watford 0-3 Albion, Saturday 10th August
Albion couldn’t have wished for a more perfect start in what head coach Graham Potter described as ‘a dream day’ with Maupay grabbing his first goal in a Seagulls shirt after coming on as a substitute to wrap up a 3-0 victory at Vicarage Road.
A debut Premier League goal came in some style as the striker took the ball past goalkeeper Ben Foster and rolled in for what was the first of ten goals in the top tier.
The press verdict (The Independent): ‘The three points were sealed when debutant Neal Maupay expertly rounded Ben Foster in the Watford net before tapping home in the 77th minute.’
Tottenham torn apart at the Amex – Albion 3-0 Tottenham, Saturday 5th October
Fellow striker Aaron Connolly stole the headlines as he netted twice on his first Premier League start, but again Maupay was in the thick of the action as Tottenham were well beaten at the Amex.
Having scored against Burnley in a 1-1 draw a fortnight earlier, Maupay got the opener just three minutes in as he nodded past Hugo Lloris – the France international goalkeeper suffering a freak arm injury in the process. It completed a bad week for Spurs, who had been thrashed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League a few days earlier.
The press verdict (Mail on Sunday): ‘Neal Maupay is no Robert Lewandowski, Maty Ryan is no Manuel Neuer and Aaron Connolly was never expected to score four like Serge Gnabry. Just like Bayern, they had Tottenham's number all the same. They embarrassed Mauricio Pochettino's men with three goals, ensuring a few steins would be raised in East Sussex on Saturday evening.’
Nerves of steel at the Amex – Albion 3-2 Everton, Saturday 26th October
Pascal Gross bent in an unbelievable strike against Everton early on, but an Adam Webster own goal and a tidy finish from Dominic Calvert-Lewin left Albion pushing for an equaliser which they duly found.
Connolly was impeded by Michael Keane in the box and Maupay fired straight down the middle from 12 yards and then gave Mason Holgate got an earful for prolonging the taking of the penalty.
Lucas Digne put past his own keeper in the final moments of the game as the Seagulls took all three points.
The press verdict (The Sun): ‘Maupay was ice cool as he had to wait two minutes to take it while the Toffees players remonstrated with ref Andrew Madley, before burying the spot-kick down the middle.’
Arsenal undone by late goal (part one) – Arsenal 1-2 Albion, Thursday 5th December
The first of a famous double over the Gunners was the perfect tonic after a spirited performance at Anfield the weekend before that ultimately ended in a narrow 2-1 defeat.
Adam Webster’s opener was cancelled out by Alexandre Lacazette’s header, but Maupay would have the final say in front of the traveling supporters that memorable Thursday night.
Aaron Mooy picked out the striker ten yards out and he emphatically found the bottom right corner with a well-directed glancing header – his fifth goal of the campaign.
The press verdict (The Sun): ‘Aaron Mooy was allowed far too much time out wide to pick out Maupay with a cross which the dangerous Frenchman guided into the far corner with a delicious glancing header.’
Emphatic finish at Selhurt Park – Crystal Palace 1-1 Albion, Monday 16th December
The goal and the celebration was pure poetry. Unfortunately, a Wilfried Zaha strike would snatch the hosts a point.
Leandro Trossard got the ball into the box after some delightful wing-play, Dan Burn smartly let the ball run through his legs before Maupay controlled and then rifled into the top right corner.
The press verdict (BBC online): ‘Albion's goal involved some fine football. Bissouma sprayed a ball out right for Leandro Trossard, who volleyed a cross which Gross diverted into the path of Maupay, with the forward scoring for a third consecutive game.’
Arsenal undone by late goal (part two) – Albion 2-1 Arsenal, Saturday 20th June
The first win of 2020 couldn’t have been more welcome as the opening game of the restart ended in memorable fashion.
Lewis Dunk squeezed the ball over the line for Albion’s equaliser after Nicolas Pepe had opened the scoring with a fantastic bending effort into the top left corner.
But in the fifth minute of stoppage time came what Graham Potter described as one of the defining moments of the campaign as Alexis Mac Allister found Connolly who lifted the ball over the Gunners defence and Maupay was there to convert past Emi Martinez.
There had been a moment of controversy in the first half after a collision between Maupay and keeper Bernd Leno saw the German goalkeeper stretchered off and Mateo Guendouzi would also have a word, but Maupay had the final say.
“Some of the Arsenal players need to learn a bit of humility," Maupay said. “They were talking a lot in the first half, and in the second half they got what they deserved.”