Albion Analytics preview: Everton

The Toffees go under the microscope ahead of tonight's Premier League match at the Amex.

By Liam Tharme • 12 April 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Lewis Dunk made his his 300th league start in last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Manchester United.

Brighton welcome Everton to the Amex tonight unbeaten in all three Premier League meetings – winning twice – when the Toffees have come to Sussex.

Lewis Dunk made his 300th league start for the Albion when the Seagulls visited Old Trafford last time out. He ranks among the top four longest serving players for the current crop of Premier League sides, with Everton's Seamus Coleman one of just three players to have been at their current club longer.

Albion's captain has already matched his total of headed clearances from last season (53) and the one-cap England international has maintained an aerial win rate of at least 60% in each of his Premier League seasons. In addition to his aerial prowess in both boxes, this campaign has seen Dunk boast his best passing accuracies over short (94%) and long (75.3%) distances, which becomes more impressive when you consider that he is attempting more passes per match (64) than in any other Premier League season.

Albion will need Dunk to be at his aerial best if they are to keep Dominic Calvert-Lewin quiet – the Sheffield-born striker has six headed goals this season (from shots worth 4.4xG), the most of any Premier League player by two, including the opener in the reverse fixture. As a team, Everton have scored a Premier League high 12 headed goals this campaign, whilst 24% of the goals Brighton have conceded have been headers – this is the highest proportion of any side in the division.

Danny Welbeck headed home the opener on his return to Old Trafford, becoming the first Brighton player this season to score with his left foot, right foot and head. That finish was his fourth of the campaign and means Welbeck has recorded a direct goal involvement in three consecutive games. If the history book is anything to go by, then the Englishman is set to extend that record this season, as he has eight goal involvements – delicately split into four goals and four assists – against Everton, his most against a single club.

Potter has used a split-strikers tactic to effect in recent weeks, deploying any combination of Welbeck, Leo Trossard on Neal Maupay on the wings during the build-up. The trio have made up Albion's top three progressive pass receivers across the last three matches, with Welbeck and Maupay receiving 19 such passes in that time, 20 for Trossard. The trio are all among Albion's top four in terms of big chances created, with Maupay (6) leading the Brighton pack and Trossard and Welbeck having five apiece. Only Fulham (87) have completed more open-play crosses into the box than Brighton (82), with the Seagulls among the Premier League' top five for chances created from crosses. Joel Veltman, Trossard and Pascal Gross all rank among the top five non-big six players for cross accuracy this season.

Gross (78) has attempted the most crosses of any Brighton player this campaign, and the German has shown his positional versatility in recent weeks, filling in as a wingback. He recorded the most touches (76) of any Albion player against Manchester United, also topping the Brighton charts for successful pressures (5) and passes plus dribbles into the final third (6). Gross also equaled his season-best match total for tackles + interceptions (5) in the defeat at Old Trafford. Only at Anfield (21) did Albion record more interceptions than at Old Trafford (19), testament to the quality of Brighton’s first-half press.

Against United, Yves Bissouma led the way for Brighton players in terms of tackles + interceptions (7), clearances (6) and progressive dribbles (6). The Malian midfielder boasts an immense 86% completion rate when under passing pressure, completing almost 34 of these per game. Bissouma ranks inside the top quarter of Premier League players in the first of those two metrics. Albion’s no.8 completes an impressive 5.7 line-breaking passes per game with a 76% pass completion rate for line-breaking passes, an accuracy that is better than two-thirds of Premier League midfielders.

Bissouma – who fired home from range in the reverse fixture – is one of 13 different goal-scorers Brighton have had this season, with only three Premier League sides having a greater variety of finishers. Comparatively, only one side have seen a lesser spread of goals than Everton (10 players), with 64% of the Toffees goals coming from their forwards.

Everton (12) sit second to only West Ham (15) for set piece goals this campaign, and the Toffees are the most accurate shooters in the league, hitting the target with 39.5% of their efforts. The Seagulls have found their shooting boots in recent weeks, though, with Albion’s last three games all ranking inside their top four for shot accuracy. In those fixtures – against Southampton, Newcastle and Manchester United – the Albion have hit the target with 15 of their 24 shots (62.5% accuracy) and have clinically scored six goals from chances worth 3.2 Expected Goals.

Albion have already taken more points (19) since the turn of the year this season than what they managed between January 1 and the season end in each of the previous three campaigns. An improvement to seeing out games could see that total grow exponentially, as Albion unwantedly top the Premier League charts for points dropped from winning positions (20), whereas visitors Everton have won 14 of the 17 league games they have led in this campaign.

That said, Albion may benefit from Everton’s tendency to start fast rather than finish strong; Carlo Ancelotti’s side have scored a league third-high 24 first half goals, six more than what they have conceded in the first 45 minutes. The Albion (17 goals scored, 21 conceded) and Everton (17 goals scored, 20 conceded) boast almost identical records in the second half.


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