Match Previews

Albion Analytics preview: West Ham United

Albion Analytics previews our trip to the London Stadium.

By Liam Tharme • 26 December 2020

By James Boardman
Albion celebrate their late equaliser against Sheffield United.

Albion travel to the London Stadium on Sunday hoping to maintain a six-game unbeaten record against West Ham in the Premier League.

The Hammers are one of only two teams along with Newcastle who have faced Albion in their three Premier League seasons so far and have yet to beat them.

Though Graham Potter's side have a good record to defend, they will have to do so against a flourishing West Ham side.

It took the Londoners just 12 games to reach the 20-point mark, winning half of those fixtures. Only in 2015-16 did they reach the 20-point mark after fewer games (10). But West Ham have won just once in their last four games, conceding eight goals and failing to score against Chelsea last time out for the first time since their opening game of the season against Newcastle at home.

Although the game will be played the day after Boxing Day, the bubbles appear to have burst for West Ham in the fixture immediately after Christmas. They have won just once on Boxing Day since 2011, against Swansea City in 2016.

Lukas Fabianski was the goalkeeper for Swansea that day, but now plays for West Ham. He has failed to keep a clean sheet in any of his six Premier League appearances against Albion for both Swansea and West Ham. Having conceded 12 times in those matches, Fabianski has faced Brighton the most times in the Premier League without being on the winning side.

Leandro Trossard performed well against Sheffield United.

Leandro Trossard fired past Fabianski to ensure the spoils were shared at the Amex last season, opening his Albion account with an angled drive into the bottom corner. The winger was a stand-out against Sheffield United last Sunday, accurately crossing on six occasions, creating five chances and winning four fouls. No Brighton player topped Trossard's performance in any of those metrics, with only Yves Bissouma (28/34 completed) recording more accurate passes in the final third. Brighton's Belgian completed 27 of the 32 he attempted.

Declan Rice ranks among the top five under-23 Premier League midfielders for successful passes into the final third this season, recording 55. He leads West Ham for tackles won/attempted (25/37), successful pressures (71) and yards dribbled toward the opposition goal (2097). His goal against Iceland last month was the first by a West Ham player for England since Matthew Upson in 2010. Upson played 67 times for Brighton and 146 times for West Ham – his most for any club.

It was at the London Stadium in 2017 that Brighton picked up their first ever Premier League away win. Jose Izquierdo's wonder strike was sandwiched between two Glenn Murray goals as Albion won 3-0. The Seagulls also scored three in this fixture last season, and eight of Brighton’s 21 Premier League goals in the capital have been scored at the London Stadium, more than against any London opponent. 

Two goals in the final 15 minutes in February saw Potter’s men recover from 3-1 down to claim a precious point. 36 per cent – 18 out of 50 – of Brighton's Premier League goals under Potter have been scored in this period of the game.

Albion have a tendency to leave it late, according to Albion Analytics.

In contrast, West Ham have shipped six goals beyond the 75th minute, the fifth most of any side in the division. The Irons have been on the right end of a 3-3 comeback draw this season, though, setting a Premier League record by recovering from a 3-0 deficit at Tottenham, the first side to snatch a point having been that far behind in a game by the 81st minute.

Brighton have already recorded 15 points from losing positions under Potter, with the six-goal thriller in February one of 13 games unbeaten that Brighton have managed on the road this calendar year in all competitions. They break down into five wins and eight draws, with Brighton having recorded more away clean sheets (6) than away losses (5) in 2020.

Clean sheets have been a rarity for both sides in this fixture, though, with both sides scoring on four of the six occasions they have met in the top-flight, including the last three consecutive meetings. Ten of Brighton's 14 games this season have seen both sides score, a joint league high with Liverpool.

Pascal Gross has an excellent record at the London Stadium.

Pascal Gross loves playing against Sunday's hosts, recording five goal involvements (2 goals, 3 assists) in five games. He has been directly involved in at least one goal in every trip to the London Stadium. The German had 11 shot-creating actions in the 3-3 draw in February, his most in a Premier League away game and second most in any Premier League fixture – only against Watford at the Amex in 2018 did he record more (12). Across five fixtures against West Ham, Gross has 33 shot-creating actions, 25 successful pressures and 10 shots taken.

The German assisted Solly March for the winner in Albion's last away win at Aston Villa in November. It was an inspired performance from March at West Ham in February which ensured Brighton maintained their unbeaten record in this fixture. After coming on in the 72nd minute, March completed the most final third passes (8), attempted the most shots (4), successfully dribbled the most (2/2 dribbles completed) and won the most fouls (2).

Combining West Ham and Brighton players, only Jarrod Bowen (41) has recorded domestic more shot-creating actions than March (39) this season. The former Hull winger leads the Irons in Premier League goal involvements, scoring four and assisting twice.

Bowen is the most fouled West Ham player this season, with Tariq Lamptey the only Albion player (fouled 28 times) to better his 20 fouls won. Only Aaron Cresswell (4) betters Bowen in goals assisted this season. The left-back recorded the most final third passes completed (12) and second most ball recoveries (8) for West Ham last time they faced Albion, and the 31-year-old is enjoying quite a resurgence this season.

Aaron Cresswell is enjoying a fruitful season with West Ham.

His 17 most shot-creating actions from dead-ball situations is the most of any Premier League player and a key component of West Ham's set-piece threat. Sunday's hosts have converted eight of their 21 goals from such situations this season, a statistic which becomes even more impressive given they have yet to be awarded a penalty.

Tomas Soucek is arguably their biggest threat at set pieces with his last two goals – which came in back-to-back games against Manchester United and Leeds – coming from corners. Only Oli McBurnie (85) has won more aerial duels than the Czech this season (76), with West Ham collectively winning 283 aerials and scoring six headers this season – they rank third in the league for both metrics.

Danny Welbeck scored Brighton's first set piece goal of the season against Sheffield United, taking his Premier League goal total to 46. Four of those goals have been scored against West Ham, with Welbeck only having scored more against Southampton and Aston Villa (5). Only Neal Maupay (6.1) has recorded more 'Expected Goals' than Welbeck (2.1) this season, with the Frenchman averaging a higher press success rate (32% v 26%) and higher pass reception rate (60% v 53%) compared to last season.

Of Maupay's ten goal involvements in 2020, seven have come in away games. He leads the way among Albion players for touches in the opposition box (64), final third pressures (62), shots taken (27) and successful dribbles leading to shots (3). He may well add to that latter metric on Sunday since West Ham have conceded the second-most shots following a dribble (25) in the Premier League this season.


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