Albion Analytics Debrief: Leicester City

The numbers behind Albion's fourth Premier League win of the campaign.

By Liam Tharme • 21 September 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion finished the weekend in fourth spot in the Premier League after their 2-1 victory over Leicester City.

The Seagulls continued their sizzling start to the season with victory against Leicester on Sunday, a first-ever win at this level against the Foxes, having failed to win in the previous eight meetings.

12 points from five games is comfortably Albion's best return at this stage of a Premier League season, and they last bettered this points total after five games in the 2015/16 Championship season (13 points).

Last season, Brighton had 12 points on Christmas Day, and it took them double the number of games (10) to reach this threshold in the 2019/20 campaign.

Across these five fixtures, Brighton have outscored opponents by seven goals to four, with goals spread across five different goalscorers – Danny Welbeck became number five with his match-winning header.

In 2021, the Englishman has netted five times, impressively managing to score with his left-foot, right-foot and head, and such a total is his best return in a single calendar year since 2017 (also 5), and he last scored more in 2014 (7).

Much has been made of a more cut-throat Brighton side this season, whom are boasting shot accuracy (32.1%) and conversion rates (11%) that rank among the best six sides in the league, and perhaps most critically, are better than the Seagulls' opponents (22% and 5%) and Brighton's 20/21 outputs (27.1% and 5%). This is all the more impressive when you consider the Premier League average conversion rate to now be down at 9.85%.

It may surprise some to see the extent to which Graham Potter’s side are creating from set pieces this season; 26% of Albion's xG has come from dead-balls, while they have recorded 21 shots from such situations – they rank inside the top six sides for both metrics, and next domestic opponents Crystal Palace have created the exact same number of chances from set pieces.

Having dominated possession in the opening four fixtures, it shows the evolving ability of the Albion to win a game through a different approach. Having just 37% possession, Brighton clocked their most pressures (189) in a Premier League game this season, though 32 final third pressures was the second lowest in a game this season – in summary, Brighton defended deeper. Understat data had Brighton averaging a defensive action once every 13.8 Leicester passes, the least intense Albion out-of-possession approach thus far this season. Adam Lallana led the way in most defensive metrics, recording the most pressures (38) of any non big-six player this game-week.

Leicester made 36 touches in Brighton's penalty area, but only generated 7 shots, whereas Brighton had 9 inside the Foxes box. Of those 7 efforts, only one (the goal) was on target, evidence of the diligent defensive work to force shots off target (3) and also to block shots (3).

With the ball, Brighton adopted their most direct approach play of the season, averaging a shot every 27 passes. Wyscout data has it that 15% of the Albion's passes were long, their highest long pass share in a game so far this season. Marc Cucurella shone on his home debut, recording the most ball progressions (11 – 8 progressive passes, 3 progressive carries) of any Albion player.

In total, the Spaniard progressed the ball 460 yards through those actions, moving the ball the equivalent of 4 lengths of the Amex pitch. To highlight how central he was to Albion's play, Cucurella also topped the charts for passes received (38) and ranked inside the top three Seagulls for pressures (19) and tackles + interceptions (4).