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Albion Analytics Debrief: Burnley

A look back at standout numbers from our opening day win at Turf Moor.

By Liam Tharme • 18 August 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion came from behind to win a Premier League away game for only the second time when they defeated Burnley.

The Seagulls made a fast start to the season with an opening day comeback victory at Turf Moor – it is only the second time in five Premier League seasons that they have started with a win.

Graham Potter's side had to do things the hard way, going behind to James Tarkowski's headed strike after just 103 seconds. That effort was the earliest goal scored on an opening Premier League weekend since 2017. For only the second time in Albion's Premier League history, Brighton came back from behind to win an away game, the only previous occasion having been at Huddersfield in 2018.

An inspired second half from Brighton saw tactical tweaks pushing Solly March and Pascal Gross further forward, and it was Graham Potter's substitutes that ended up making the difference. Jakub Moder provided his first ever Premier League assist for Neal Maupay to equalise, meaning he now has three goal involvements in five games against Burnley.

Olympian Alexis Mac Allister ensured the points would come back to Sussex when he arrived late to slide home Pascal Gross' cross. Gross now has 24 Premier League assists, ranking him third among German players in this competition. Mac Allister became the 11th different player that Gross has assisted for a Premier League goal.

Brighton's goals at Burnley were their 149th and 150th in the competition, making them the 41st side in history to bring up this number of Premier League goals. Neal Maupay is responsible for 19 goals scored, a club-high since the start of the 19/20 season, and he became the first Brighton player to have scored in every season under Graham Potter.

The Seagulls showed some serious accuracy at Turf Moor, hitting the target with eight out of their 14 strikes on goal. This shot accuracy (57%) betters Brighton's performance in 34 out of 38 games last season, and only once last campaign did they record more than eight shots on target (9 v Aston Villa at home). Across the weekend, West Ham (9) were the only side outside the so-called big six to register more efforts on the opposition goal.

Shane Duffy and Neal Maupay (4 each) were Brighton's two top shooters at Burnley, with the Irishman putting in a player-of-the-match display. He topped the pitch charts for clearances (10) and aerial duels won (9/13), all while completing an impressive 45 of his 49 passes, including a pinpoint midfield line-splitting pass in the build-up to the winner. He won the most aerial duels of any Premier League player over the weekend and among players outside the big six only Newcastle’s Federico Fernandez (14) and Norwich’s Ben Gibson (12) could better Duffy’s combined 11 blocks and clearances.

Perhaps most impressively, Brighton showed an ability to create and convert goal-scoring opportunities from both organised and counter-attacks. Both goals were one-touch finishes in the box, assisted via low crosses from the right-hand side, very much a typical assist in terms of type and location last season.

The equaliser saw Brighton go from box-to-box in just 15 seconds, five passes and 10 touches of the ball. The sequence time (15 seconds) and length (5 passes) were below Brighton's goal averages last season, and counter-attacks typically produce the highest quality shots, so effective play in attacking transitions is increasingly important.

The match-winner was a typical Potter goal, though. Only Chelsea (25), who beat Crystal Palace 3-0, recorded more open-play pass sequences of 10+ passes than Brighton (16) during the weekend. The Seagulls turned three of these sequences into shots or a touch in the opposition box, bettering 13 other Premier League sides in this metric. One of those three sequences of the winner, which was a real team goal, as every outfielder for Brighton touched the ball during the possession.

Albion will face Watford at the Amex on Saturday, and they have never won their opening two games in a Premier League season. Both sides could achieve consecutive victories, as Watford dispatched Aston Villa in a five-goal thriller when Emmanuel Denis became the fourth different Nigerian to score on their Premier League debut, and Cucho Hernandez became the first Colombian. They will provide serious problems in transition, too, having recorded four counterattacks with three shots and one goal on the opening day.