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Albion Analytics preview: Arsenal

The final Albion Analytics preview of the season, as they take a deeper look at the numbers.

By Liam Tharme • 22 May 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Dan Burn's goal against Manchester City his first in 70 Premier League appearances.

Albion travel to the Emirates for a final day showdown, knowing just a point is needed to set a club record Premier League points tally (42 plus), in a season where they have smashed plenty of other records.

The Seagulls made club history by beating Manchester City – who hadn't lost away from home for 23 games in all competitions – last time out, coming back from a two-goal deficit to win for the first time in the Premier League and record a first Premier League win against City. The win takes Albion's points total to 28 this calendar year, having played 21 domestic games. That points per game average (1.33) would equate to over 50 points over an entire league season. Brighton have won the same number of games in 2021 (7) as Arsenal have home losses this whole season, the Gunners most since the inaugural Premier League campaign in 1992/93.

Potter's side won against City in some fashion, too, recording the most shot-creating actions (29) of any Premier League side against Pep Guardiola's side this season, while they recorded the most shots on target (6) of any side to face the champions in 2021. Brighton recorded the most touches in the opposition box (42) of any Premier League side against Manchester City since the start of the 2017/18 season, whilst the 37% possession that Potter limited Guardiola's side (in his 700th game) to is the lowest share ever recorded by one of his teams in a top-flight match.

Compared to the reverse fixture at the Etihad, Brighton recorded 26 more final-third pressures, despite having 28% more possession in the Amex fixture, recording 14 more shots (5 more on target, 3 more goals) and 12 more penalty area entries in the home win compared to the away fixture.

The win means Albion finish the season five unbeaten at the Amex, with 11 points and three clean sheets with the Seagulls winning the aggregate score in this sequence 9-3. It is Brighton's best unbeaten run at the Amex since they managed six consecutive home games without defeat in the 2017/18 season.

This campaign has been Albion's best in the Premier League in terms of points won versus 'big six' sides (11), points won in away games (20), expected (53.6) and actual goals for (40) and the fewest Expected (39.1) and actual goals conceded (44). The Albion are a top-half Premier League side in both those defensive metrics, ranking fifth in the league for clean sheets this season (12), another Premier League record.

Perhaps most impressive is that Brighton have achieved such outputs with their youngest ever Premier League side – an average age of 25.8 years, with only five Premier League sides boasting a younger squad on average. The Seagulls top the Premier League charts for minutes given to homegrown players (been at club for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21), with over 30%. Ben White (3,101), Robert Sanchez (2,340) and Alexis Mac Allister (1,050) are the three Albion under-23 players to have all clocked over a thousand minutes this season, with White Albion’s most played player in terms of minutes and among the top five under-23 players in the Premier League for such a metric.

Adam Webster and Dan Burn netted their first Premier League goals of the season in the comeback win against City, meaning the Albion have now had a club record 15 different goal scorers in the Premier League this season – as have Sunday's hosts Arsenal. Burn bundled home the winner for his first ever Premier League goal, having had 32 previous shots in 70 appearances in the competition.

Pascal Gross captained Brighton against Manchester City, his third time this season (all competitions) donning the armband, with Brighton unbeaten in those fixtures, winning twice. The German's cross for the equaliser was his eighth assist of the campaign and sixth in 2021, with no Premier League player bettering him in the latter of those metrics. Gross ranks in the Premier League's top 10 this campaign for key passes (67) and shot-creating actions from dead-ball situations (40), and he is just one of five Premier League players this season to record 50-plus successful open play passes and 15-plus successful open play crosses into the box. Leroy Sane (28) and former Gunner Mesut Ozil (54) are the only Germans to have more Premier League assists than Gross (23).

Brighton have lost just one of their last six games against Arsenal in the Premier League, with both sides scoring in five of the previous meetings. While the history book may be filled with positive omens, Mikel Arteta's side have won their last four on the bounce, netting nine and conceding just twice in those games. A win for the Albion would be just the second time in seven seasons that Brighton have finished the season victorious, having ran out 2-1 winners at Burnley on the final day last season.