Albion Analytics Debrief: Everton

The numbers behind Albion's brilliant win at Goodison Park.

By Liam Tharme • 04 January 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Shane Duffy came on at as a second half substitute against his former side.

Albion started 2022 with three goals and three points, winning at Goodison Park for the first time, having lost on their four previous Premier League trips to Merseyside.

In front of goal, it was Albion’s best finishing performance of the season in numerous underlying metrics, and they scored three for the first time this season and the first time away from home since September 2020 (3-0 win at Newcastle). This result means Brighton have lost their first game of the calendar year just once in the past 13 years, and have never lost such a fixture as a Premier League side (W1, D4).

Alexis Mac Allister was undoubtedly the star of the show, becoming just the third Brighton player (after Glenn Murray and Neal Maupay) to score twice away from home in the Premier League, and his brace is the first of any Albion player since Maupay netted twice at Newcastle in September 2020. 

The two goals were typical of the Argentine’s play style; the first saw him act as the ‘third man’, spraying a pass wide to Joel Veltman before running beyond the back-line to receive a set pass from Maupay, whilst for his second (the eventual match-winner), he fired home elegantly from range.

Only Neal Maupay (7) has more Premier League goals for Brighton this season than Mac Allister (4), who has already achieved over double (5 versus 2) the number of direct goal involvements he managed last season, despite having played roughly half the number of minutes this season (578 versus 1,115) so far. 

The 23-year-old tops the Albion charts for – per 90 minutes – shots (3.1), pressures (25.5) and successful pressures (9.4) per game, sits second for final third touches (27.3) and ranks third for shot-creating actions (3.4), tackles + interceptions (5) and progressive carries (5.8).

Albion’s opening goal came from a flowing 13-pass move and was their earliest away goal as a Premier League side (2 minutes, 43 seconds). They have only scored earlier twice previously in the Premier League. This Premier League season, Albion sit fourth for open-play sequences containing 10+ passes (257), and are ranked sixth for such sequences leading to shots/a touch in the opposition box (43). Excluding big-six sides, they are top in both metrics.

Dan Burn headed home just his second ever Albion goal and became Brighton’s seventh different goal-scorer this season. While they share goals around less readily than most sides – only three teams (Watford, Wolves and Norwich) have fewer different scorers this season –Albion’s last six goals have been scored by five different players.

Against Everton, Burn won the most aerial duels (6/7) and recorded the most blocks (3) and clearances (6) of any Brighton player. This Premier League season, he ranks inside the top 15% of central defenders for final third tackles (0.36) and pressures (1.44), blocks (2.63), tackles + interceptions (4.79) and aerial duels won (4.31). It was Burn who recovered a Jordan Pickford clearance to start the move for the first goal, and his high turnover reignited the attack leading to the third goal. Albion rank third for high turnovers (174) this season, and have made shots from 20 such situations.

The diversity in Albion’s assisters is important, too. Neal Maupay became the 12th different player to assist a goal this season, with no non-big six side having more variety in this department (also Leicester – 12). This season, around 30% of Brighton’s shot-creating actions are coming from non-open-play passes, the highest proportion in any season under Graham Potter.

While this is more reflective of style than being inherently good or bad, it does show greater use of dribbles, set pieces, shots (leading to second shots) and defensive actions to create chances.

In his last five Premier League matches, Maupay has recorded 12 shots, 14 shot-creating actions and been directly involved in five goals (3 goals scored, 1 assist and 1 pre-assist).

The win on Merseyside takes Albion to 27 points at the halfway stage (19 games), their most ever at this stage of a Premier League season, and the first time they have ever been in the top half at the midway point.