Albion Analytics Debrief: Liverpool

The numbers reveal how well Albion performed at Anfield on Saturday.

By Liam Tharme • 02 November 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion recovered from 2-0 down at Anfield on Saturday, which the stats say is an incredible rarity.

The Seagulls kept up their impressive start to the season by staging a comeback at Anfield, recovering from two goals down to deservedly take a point, with the result keeping Graham Potter’s side unbeaten on the road this season, one of just four Premier League sides to have avoided defeat on their travels.

For context of just how impressive Saturday’s turnaround was, Liverpool took a two-goal lead at Anfield for the 250th time in the Premier League, and they had gone on to win on 244 of those matches, last failing to do so in 2016.

Not only that, but the Seagulls managed to stop Mo Salah extending his 10-game goalscoring run for Liverpool, limiting the Egyptian to just two shots worth 0.1xG, his lowest totals in a Premier League game thus far this season.

It took Brighton half a season last campaign to surpass the 15-point threshold, and they have done so in nine games fewer this time around – across each of the Albion’s five Premier League seasons, they have never surpassed 15 points after this few games with a previous best of 12 games in the 2017-18 season.

Brighton are currently the third best side in the league in recoveries from losing positions, having suffered five deficits and taken five points from such situations this season. Last season, the Albion suffered 20 deficits and picked up just seven points. Opta data has it that Brighton (according to xG) created better quality chances than Liverpool, despite being marginally outshot, evidence of the Seagulls’ ability to break down one of Europe’s very best. Liverpool had won each of their last four going into the game, outscoring opponents by a whopping 15 goals to two across those fixtures.

Having opened his goalscoring account in the previous game against Leicester City, Enock Mwepu showed no signs of needing time to settle into Premier League life. Albion’s player of the match ranked fourth in the team charts for attempted (39) and completed (31) passes and was top when you exclude defenders.

Mwepu led the way for tackles plus interceptions (10) for all players and topped the Brighton charts for pressures applied (24), evidence of his front-foot approach defensively, a facet of his game that was picked out when he signed back in July.

His ability to couple this with continued runs beyond the ball and offer attacking support makes him a threat both in and out of possession, and the Zambian has now been directly involved in 3 goals (2 goals scored, 1 penalty won – assist) in the last week. Across those games, Mwepu has shot six times in just 167 minutes, averaging an attempt once every 27 minutes.

Leandro Trossard finished off a sweeping back-to-front move to restore parity on Merseyside, his third direct goal-involvement of the season. The Belgian is Brighton’s top shooter (26 attempts, 9 on target) this season and he ranks among the top seven players for chance-ending ball carries (16 and is inside the top 25 Premier League players for forward yards dribbled (1,191), having already carried the ball the equivalent of over 10 lengths of the Amex pitch. Potter utilised Trossard in a new false 9 role with the forward recording the most sprints (19) and second most progressive passes received (5) of any Albion player.

Such a role facilitated the beyond-the-ball running and attacking threat of Mwepu and Adam Lallana, who shone on his return to Anfield. Lallana was involved in both goal sequences, directly assisting Trossard. Compared to last season, Lallana is averaging more passes, more tackles plus interceptions and more ball recoveries per game.

Brighton’s ability to dictate games through long passing sequences has been well documented this season, but their ability to turn these moves into shooting opportunities and goals has been invaluable. Mwepu’s outstanding strike came from a 14-pass sequence that started and ended in the Liverpool half, and the equaliser came from a 15-pass move that started in Brighton’s own box and ended in Liverpool’s 45 seconds later.

Overall, this season, the Seagulls have had 26 ten-plus pass sequences that have ended with a touch in the opposition box or a shot at goal, a total which can only be bettered by ‘big six’ sides.

Next up, Brighton welcome Newcastle, whom they are unbeaten against in eight Premier League meetings. Newcastle have faced the most shots on target (49) and conceded the most goals (23) and most xGA (18.8) of any side in the league this season.