By Kevin Affleck
Javi Gracia has a talented team of analysts at the club and they've been working away since the fixtures were released and hatching a plan to beat Brighton on Saturday. But if the Head Coach needs a bit of inside information on how Graham Potter, the Seagulls new boss, goes about his business then he can just summon Ken Sema into his office.
The winger played for two-and-a-half seasons under Potter at Östersunds and they teamed up on the thrilling journey that took the unheralded Swedish outfit into the Europa League and peaked with a famous 2-1 win at Arsenal.
“It will be special to see him again” said Sema. “I know him and he knows me well. He's a good coach, a good manager and I enjoyed working with him. We did so well in the Europa League, we won the Swedish Cup and we had some nice moments. It's in the past, though. He's there and I'm here but it's going to be a fun game and special to see him again.”
Potter and Sema neatly brought the curtain down on their time in Sweden last summer, Potter joining Swansea City and Sema penning a five-year deal at Vicarage Road. Potter, 44, moved again this summer to take up the top job at Brighton.
“I spoke to him a bit and he's always asking how I am,” said Sema. “He's like a friend – not just a good coach. Brighton will play good football as he wants to play on the ground and have possession. It will be interesting.”
Sema has put himself in contention to feature against the Seagulls after some strong performances in pre-season. He did a fine job after coming on against Bayer Leverkusen and then got the nod to start against Real Sociedad on Saturday as Roberto Pereyra has only recently returned from an extended summer holiday. Gracia has shown he has no qualms in picking Sema to do a specific job, most notably at the London Stadium in December when he helped keep Felipe Anderson quiet. The 25-year-old also locked down the opposition's right flank away at Everton and then scored one and made another at Bournemouth.
“I feel good and I'm in good shape and I'm looking forward to the start of the league,” said Sema. “It's felt good to play more in pre-season and I feel I'm ready. I always want to play more, always. I've had to work hard, I'll continue to work and then we'll see. Hopefully I will have the chance to play and I will do my best to play more and to play well.”