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Albion Analytics: How did Albion do in 2021?

The numbers behind Albion's progress in 2021.

By Liam Tharme • 31 December 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Albion rounded off 2021 with a 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

Albion ended the year in fine fashion, out-passing and out-shooting European champions Chelsea to score their first Premier League goal at Stamford Bridge.

That result means Brighton have won (12) as many games as they have lost in 2021, the highest number of wins they have managed in a calendar year as a Premier League side – the previous record was 11 in 2018. Their 15 clean sheets this calendar year absolutely obliterates the previous best (as a Premier League side) of eight in 2019; likewise, 39 goals conceded is the fewest in a year, despite having played more Premier League games in 2021 (40) than in any other year as a Premier League side. Only in 2018 (41) did they score more domestic goals than in 2021 (39).

Robert Sanchez – whom was in goal for all 15 of those clean sheets – has kept goal in 39 of Brighton’s 40 Premier League games this year, and across 2021 he boasts a 74.8% save rate, a 9.7% cross stop rate and a 38.5% clean sheet rate. All three of those totals rank him among the top 15% of European goalkeepers. The Spaniard has conceded less than a goal per game (0.95) in 2021, saving an additional six goals above average – according to the quality of shots on target he has faced – as per StatsBomb data.

They end the year having lost just once in their last nine trips on the road, coming back from behind on six different occasions to earn a result – impressively, they have taken points in both trips to Stamford Bridge and Anfield.

Danny Welbeck’s headed equaliser was his sixth goal in 2021, the third most of any Albion player behind Neal Maupay (10) and Leandro Trossard (8).

Leandro Trossard (13) had more goal involvements than any other Albion player in 2021 and was directly involved in a third of all goals. Across 2021, the Belgian ranks (per 90) inside the top 25% of forwards for shot-creating actions (3.1) and press success rate (29%), sitting pretty inside the top 10% for passes into the penalty area (2.2), tackles + interceptions (2.15), passes completed (28.5) and progressive yards dribbled (112.5), evidence of the rounded nature of his game.

Compared to previous seasons, Brighton will enter the new year in the top half for the first time ever as a Premier League side, on their highest points per game total (1.33) and the furthest from the relegation zone (13 points) than they have ever been at the turn of the year. Only in the 2018/19 season have they been on more points (25) at the New Year, but that had been from 20 games played, with Albion having taken 24 points from 18 games so far this season. 

Over 25% (10/39) of Brighton’s Premier League goals in 2021 have been scored in the final 15 minutes of games, including three in the final five games of the calendar year. They have recovered 12 points (W2, D6) from losing situations this year, though two-thirds of those have come since the start of August.

Brighton’s best spell of the calendar year started in January, when they went six games unbeaten (all competitions), winning four and keeping as many clean sheets, shutting Premier League opponents out for 7 hours and 39 minutes before finally conceding at Burnley.

They boasted similar form at the start of the 2021/22 season, winning six of the first seven games in all competitions – losing just once in the first 10 – by an aggregate score of 11-4, keeping four clean sheets in that period.

While it would be easy to say that a New Year’s resolution for the Albion would be to better convert chances – they scored 39 goals from shots worth 51.56xG in 2021 – it is worth noting they limited opponents to chances worth around 9xG less (42.38xGA in 2021), and their Premier League points per game average across the last year (1.3) works out to almost 50 points across a full league season, which would comfortably be a club record.