Albion Analytics Debrief: Brentford

The numbers behind Albion's Boxing Day win over Brentford.

By Liam Tharme • 28 December 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Neal Maupay now has seven Premier League goals this campaign, following his fine strike against Brentford.

Brighton beat Brentford at the Amex to record a first Boxing Day win since 2005, in the process ending an 11-match winless run and moving 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

For only the second time this season (the first being in the 2-0 win at home to Watford in August) Albion netted twice in the first half, with Leandro Trossard opening the scoring with an audacious lob. This was the fourth time he has netted from outside the area in the blue and white, with only Pascal Gross (also four) able to match him for Premier League goals scored from outside the box for Brighton. 

Half (7/14) of the Belgian’s Brighton goals have been winners, and he is currently shooting (once ever 34.5 minutes) and scoring (once every 362 minutes) at a more frequent rate than ever before in the Premier League.

Neal Maupay netted his seventh of the season, placing him among the top ten finishers in the league. He has reached this threshold in marginally over 1,108 minutes and from 29 shots worth 5.68xG, with all three totals being personal records in terms of speed/efficiency (1,227 minutes and 38 shots worth 9.06xG in 2020/21, 1,259 minutes and 51 shots worth 7.64xG in 2019/20).

The Frenchman ranks inside the top 5% of Premier League strikers this season for final-third pressures per game (10), and sits inside the top 10% for conversion rate (21%) and finishing performance relative to xG. 

His minutes per goal (158), pass completion rate (79.6%), successful pressures per 90 (5.77) and progressive passes received per game (8.13) all rank inside the top 15% of forwards in the league too so while his goalscoring numbers have been immense this season, he is right to mention his contributions in other areas.

Maupay has scored over 26% of Brighton’s Premier League goals since his arrival, though this season (44%) he has been the central goalscorer more than ever before (20% of goals in the 2020/21 season, 25.6% of goals in the 2019/20 season).

The win was Brighton’s 12th of 2021, and only in 1982 (13) have they won more top-flight games in a calendar year. This season, the Seagulls have won five of the six games they have led in, having dropped just two points – last season they dropped a league-high 25.

Rob Sanchez's shutout of Brentford took his clean sheet tally to 15 for the calendar year – only Ederson (22) and Edouard Mendy (18) have recorded more, testament to the strength of the Albion defence. 

Albion have shipped just 17 goals this season, the fifth best defence in the league and the lowest goals conceded-per-game ratio (one) that the Albion have managed under Graham Potter (1.21 conceded per game in 2020/21, 1.42 conceded per game in 2019/20). 

They rank fifth for the fewest shots conceded (206), with opponents shooting, on average, from further against Brighton (18.1 yards) than any other Premier League side, hitting the target just 31% of the time – only against Burnley (25.8%) and Tottenham (28%) are opponents less accurate. 

While Brentford managed 16 shots, they accumulated just 0.8xG, and the average shot quality (probability of scoring) was around 5%, the second-lowest quality chances Brighton have conceded in a game this season (Newcastle – 4%). Defensively, the Albion had their best game of the season in terms of interceptions (32), with eight players recording multiple interceptions and the 27 clearances they recorded is a total they have only bettered twice this season (33 versus Everton, 39 versus Burnley).

Man of the match Dan Burn led the way defensively, with four tackles + interceptions and a pitch-high nine clearances as per StatsBomb data. His central defensive partner Adam Webster was the only Albion player whom could match his six aerial duels won, while the pair were Brighton’s top two for opposition passes and shots blocked (7 combined).

It seems notable to highlight the youth of the starting XI in Sunday’s win. At an average age of 25.6 years, this was Brighton’s second youngest team of the season (after 25.1 years versus Wolves), containing five Under-23s in the starting line-up with two of these (Enock Mwepu and Jakub Moder) setting up the goals. Only four clubs (Norwich, Southampton, Everton and Arsenal) have put out a younger starting team this season.

Brighton travel to Chelsea next, having lost just once (P8, W2, D5) on the road this season. The Seagulls are nine points and eight places better off than at this stage last season.