Solly March appeared in his 200th Albion game at Elland Road on Saturday and has now appeared in Brighton sides that have beaten the Whites on four separate occasions, his most wins against any individual opponent.
Debuting against Derby back in 2013, the Englishman has appeared for Albion in both the Championship and Premier League, recording 15 direct goal involvements to date in both competitions. That breaks down to seven goals and eight assists in the Championship, compared to four goals and 11 assists in the Premier League.
March's final goal in the Championship proved to be a memorable one, when he showed composure to convert with his less-favoured right foot against Wigan, a goal which in effect secured promotion to the Premier League. That goal was one of four occasions to date that March has finished with his right foot. Across the 2016/17 season, March was second of all Albion players for dribbles completed (36), and his consistency in tackling was immense – 29/36 tackles won gave the then under-23 a success rate of over 80% in tackles.
His average of creating a chance every 55 minutes across the promotion campaign has spiked in the top-flight. March's match-winner at Villa Park this season was his most recent weaker foot strike, a goal which officially made him a versatile finisher.
Solly March’s goal today means he has scored in the Premier League for Brighton in all the following ways:— Albion Analytics (@AlbionAnalytics) November 21, 2020
• Left foot (78 shots, 3.68xG, 1 goal)
• Right foot (13 shots, 0.89xG, 1 goal)
• Header (7 shots, 1.42xG, 2 goals)
3 goal involvements in his last 6.#BHAFC #AVLBHA pic.twitter.com/iWmvE3XXLu
Across all his Premier League seasons, March has recorded 189 shot-creating actions in just shy of 77 full 90s played, meaning he averages 2.47 per game or one every 36 minutes. It was no surprise to see March's assist record thrive with such positive underlying numbers. At the end of game-week 14 in the 2018/19 season, March had already assisted five times, a total only bettered by three Premier League players.
Now, though, March has evolved into a creative threat, shooting less frequently – 1.08 times per 90, having averaged 1.54 per 90 in his previous three seasons – but when he does shoot, he is now taking shots closer to goal. This season his shot average shot distance is 18 yards, 2.6 yards fewer than the average for the last three seasons.
March's creative versatility deserves credit. Breaking down his shot-creating actions, two-thirds of his shot-creation comes from open play passes, with March having hit double digits (10) in fouls won leading to shots and shots taken leading to second shots. He can create from set pieces too, with 26 dead ball shot-creating actions, with his dribble threat from the Championship maintained with an end product of 16 dribbles leading to a shot.
This season has been March's best yet, and he seems to be thriving under Graham Potter:
Solly March among Brighton players in the PL this season:— Albion Analytics (@AlbionAnalytics) January 19, 2021
🥇 45 shot-creating actions
🥇 32 successful dribbles
🥇 29 successful OP passes into pen area
🥇 18 carries into pen area
🥇 10 successful OP crosses into pen area
🥇 7 final 1/3 tackles#BHAFC pic.twitter.com/VICVEtO4gk
Solly March - goals and assists per 90 minutes by Premier League season:— Albion Analytics (@AlbionAnalytics) November 22, 2020
• 17/18: 0.1
• 18/19: 0.22
• 19/20: 0.08
• 20/21: 0.41 🌟
Already halfway to his most goal involvements in a season. 🔋 #BHAFC pic.twitter.com/HGJ823aRgZ
It is perhaps no surprise to see this, given the extent to which the manager utilises players fluidly across the pitch and the positional versatility that March offers:
Such versatility is underpinned by March's engine. As of the start of November, he was among the top four Albion players for sprints per game (12.5). He ranks among the top four players in the league this season for successful dribbles (19) in the final 30 minutes of matches. He has managed to make this translate to goals, too, netting beyond the 90 minute mark against Newport and Manchester United this campaign, with his equaliser at Millwall back in 2019 coming five minutes into injury time.