Club news

Albion Analytics: Adam Webster

Defender has improved consistently since he joined the club.

By Liam Tharme • 04 August 2021

Adam Webster this week signed a new five-year contract to keep him at the Amex until 2026, and the central defender has been statistically improving since he joined the club.

He clocked marginally shy of 2,600 minutes last season, among Graham Potter’s top five most used players in the Premier League campaign. In total, the Englishman has 60 Premier League appearances to his name – all for Albion – and he has only played more games for Portsmouth (67) than Brighton.

He has become increasingly renowned for his ball-playing excellence. Webster topped the Albion charts last season for a combined total of passes (132) plus dribbles (55) into the final third, and he was a chart-topper back in early December, testament to how consistent he was across the entirety of last season.

Only three players in the Premier league – Leeds United’s Luke Ayling, Ruben Dias of Manchester City and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire in that order – dribbled the ball more progressive (forward) yards than Webster last season. For context, his total of 6,347 yards equates to over 55 full lengths of the Amex pitch (dribbling from goal to goal). His best tally in a game came in the 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield United, where he dribbled the ball 440 progressive yards.

Percentile rankings – which rank players in order of highest-to-lowest output per 90 minutes – show his excellence. Last season, Webster ranked inside the top 5% of central defenders for the percentage of his pressures that led to turnovers inside five seconds (41%), passes completed under pressure (8.3) and dribbles into the final third (1.9). Within the top 15% you’d find Webster’s per-game-averages for ball recoveries (11.1) and passes into the final third (4.6).

His penchant for a drive-out from the back with the ball is bolstered by his speed. In the 2019/20 campaign, Webster clocked a top speed of 34.42km/h, which ranked fourth of all Brighton outfielders – only the trio of Solly March, Tariq Lamptey and Ezequiel Schelotto clocked greater top speeds.

Comparing his 2020/21 outputs to his first Premier League campaign (2019/20), last season saw an improvement for Webster in terms of passes to the final third (41 more), progressive dribbles (61 more), errors leading to shot (3 fewer – down to zero) and proportion of passes played with his left foot (up by 5.4%). Of course, on the final of those metrics, there is no requirement for a defender to play passes with their weaker foot, but having players in the build-up that can utilise both feet opens up a whole new set of passing lanes to teammates and creates more options in terms of build-up patterns.

As a right-sided central defender, SmartScout data say that Webster’s involvement (when on the field) in shot-ending moves and possessions ending in Expected Goals has increased from a third (2019/20 season) to around 50% last campaign – perhaps Webster’s growing two-footedness is proving its value.

It was with his 27th and final attempt of the campaign that Webster levelled the scores in that memorable 3-2 win against Manchester City in the final home match of the season. Pascal Gross’s teasing cross for that goal means that the German has assisted Webster for three of his four Premier League goals (all three are headers), with the German assisting the defender for 18 shots in total over the last two seasons.

Three of his four Premier League goals have been against ‘big six’ clubs (Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham).