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Albion Analytics preview: Wolves

The full statistical run through ahead of Sunday's Premier League match.

By Liam Tharme • 08 May 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck's recent performances reflect in excellent stats for the striker.

Brighton travel to Molineux off the back of a sixth league win this calendar year, already bettering their league wins tally from 2020 (5).

There are good omens for Brighton ahead of their trip to the midlands, having lost just once in their last 13 fixtures against Wolves (8 draws, 4 wins), with Sunday's hosts failing to beat the Seagulls in 11 top-flight fixtures, the most times one team has faced another and failed to win.

The Seagulls shutout Leeds last time out – ending their six-game unbeaten run in the process – was their 12th league clean sheet this Premier League season. Three-quarters (9) of those clean sheets have come since the turn of the year, with only Chelsea (13) and both Manchester clubs (12 each) having conceded fewer Premier League goals than Albion (14) since the turn of the year.

Robert Sanchez now has ten Premier League clean sheets to his name, boasting the best clean sheet rate (43.5%) of any Under-23 goalkeeper in Europe’s top five leagues.

Danny Welbeck produced a clinical finish to seal the win against Leeds, with that strike taking his tally to five, his joint-most in a single campaign since the 2013/14 season. In the last ten games, Welbeck tops the Brighton charts for goals scored (3), goals plus assists (4) and Expected Goals (4.03), evidence of his fine form. Across the whole season, Lewis Dunk (40.7%) is the only Albion player to better Welbeck (40.6%) in shot accuracy, with the Englishman ranking inside the Premier League top ten and boasting Brighton's best individual figure for shot quality (0.18xG per shot).

The Manchester-born marksman is again an Albion chart-topper for non-penalty goals plus assists per game (0.4). Including the two converted penalties that Welbeck has won as assists, Albion's no.18 has been directly involved in a goal – either scoring it or assisting it – once every 168 minutes.

Against Leeds, Welbeck topped the Brighton charts for pressures (23) and successful pressures (6), touches in the opposition box (7) and opposition passes blocked (4), evidence of his abilities out of possession. The former England international ranked second for progressive passes received (7) and shot-creating actions (4). Welbeck's average of three shot-creating actions per game is the best of any Brighton striker, and he ranks above the Premier League average this season for – per game – expected goals plus expected assists, goals, shot accuracy, shot conversion rate, pressures, touches in the opposition box and shot-creating actions. Welbeck's next Premier League goal will be his 50th, with only 24 current Premier League players having netted more in the competition. He has netted three times in six appearances against Wolves.

Wolves' biggest forward threat arguably comes from Fabio Silva, who ranks third among teenagers in the Premier League this season for shots taken inside the box (31) and goals scored (4). The Portuguese opened the scoring for Wolves in their last game at West Brom, though Sunday's hosts are winless in all four games he has scored in, losing three. Their attacking firepower has been diluted this season with injuries to Raul Jiminez and Pedro Neto – 15 teams, including Albion (35 goals), have netted more than Wolves' 33 goals this season.

Adama Traore will provide an attacking outlet in wide areas, having completed the most take-ons (9/14) and won the joint-most fouls (4) of any player in the reverse fixture, including a penalty. The Spaniard has attempted (195) and completed (148) the most dribbles of any player in the Premier League this season, also boasting a league tally for dribbles leading to shot (16). As of the start of April he and Albion's Solly March were the league's top two for crosses following a dribble.

Lewis Dunk – who headed home the equaliser in the reverse fixture – captained Albion in the victory over Leeds, a game which came exactly 11 years since the Englishman made his debut for the club (0-0 draw v MK Dons). Among English central defenders this season – when starting in matches – only John Stones can match Dunk for goals scored (4) this season.

WhoScored data has Dunk inside the top ten English Premier League defenders this season for aerial duels won (74) and tackles won (27), and he ranks second for completed long passes (169). Dunk’s positional and national counterparts Adam Webster and Ben White also rank highly among English central defenders – both rank among the top four for dribbles completed (16 each) this season, with Webster boasting a 100% success rate in this metric. White recorded the most forward yards dribbled (240) and dribbles into the final third (4) of any Brighton player in the victory over Leeds. WhoScored data has Webster (44) as third and White (39) sixth among English central defenders for interceptions this season.

Evidence of their partnership can be found in the fact that two-thirds of Brighton's clean sheets have come when the trio have started together, giving them a better clean sheet rate (38.1%) and points per game average (1.29) when they all start against when they do not all start (30.7% clean sheet rate, 0.77 points per game). A win for Albion would – in addition to reaching the 40-points tally – mathematically guarantee a fifth season of Premier League football, as they would move an unsurmountable 13 points clear of Fulham with only three games to play. As of kick-off on Sunday, it will have been 1,353 days since Brighton found themselves in the relegation zone at the end of a match-week (prior to the draw at Watford in August 2017).

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