Albion Analytics: The alternative 2021/22 awards

A look behind the stats at some of our best performers in our best ever Premier League finish.

By Liam Tharme • 07 June 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Leandro Trossard's attacking ability was evident in both creation and conversion of chances this season.

Following the inaugural edition last campaign, the Albion Analytics alternative awards are back for a second season, in which our men’s first team club records for Premier League points and league position. There are six awards in total, including one new award, and they try to focus a little deeper than typical goals/assists related awards:

  • Data darling (best underlying numbers)
  • Best under-23 (aged under-24 at end of season)
  • Signing of the season
  • Best creator
  • Best non-goal scorer
  • Best individual performance (as per SofaScore ratings)

Data darling

Winners – Leandro Trossard/Danny Welbeck

Scooped by Yves Bissouma last season, the trophy is shared between Trossard and Welbeck this season. The Belgian’s attacking ability was evident in both creation and conversion, as he topped the Brighton charts for touches in the opposition box (179), total shots taken (72), shots on target (26) and shot-creating actions (91). These numbers are particularly impressive given he featured as a wing-back, false 9 as well as advanced midfielder. Out of possession, only Maupay (279) pressed more times in the final third than Trossard (214), with Albion’s No. 11 recording a club-high 16 final third tackles and 15 dribbles leading to shots, both totals which ranked among the top five Premier League players in both metrics.

Comparatively, Danny Welbeck highlights the need for accounting for minutes played, having only featured in five of the first 19 games, and thus his performances can be analytically accounted for by adjusting stats to per 90 minutes played. Welbeck had the best on-field goal-difference (+8) this season, showing how the side benefits from his in-behind attacking threat. Per 90, the forward tops Brighton’s xG (0.37) and shot charts (2.6), boasting the best shot accuracy (46.5%), conversion rate (14%) and average shot distance (12.3 yards – the penalty spot) of any Albion forward. Welbeck averaged a goal involvement every 184 minutes (two games) this season, with only Enock Mwepu (116 mins) more readily scoring or assisting for Brighton.

The pair have been big moment players for Brighton this season – Trossard has six goals/assists against the ‘big six’, and seven of his 11 goal involvements have been equalisers or put Albion ahead, with this metric 6/8 for Welbeck.

Best Under-23

Alexis Mac Allister

Robert Sanchez (3,329) and Marc Cucurella (3,089) were the only under-23 players to record more minutes for Brighton than Alexis Mac Allister (2,123), with the Argentine recording the most goal involvements (7 – 5 goals, 2 assists) of any under-23 Brighton player. His out-of-possession aggression and ability is evident, sitting second among Albion players for tackles won (51) and topping the pile for pressures (565), averaging an immense (and club-high) 24 per game. Mac Allister also impressively ranks within the top five Premier League under-23 players for successful pressures (199) and press success rate (35%). The Argentine was also one of just two (the other being Marc Cucurella) under-23 Brighton players to record 100+ progressive passes and progressive carries.

Signing of the season

Marc Cucurella

The supporters and players’ player of the season, Marc Cucurella has had arguably the best individual (Premier League) debut campaign for Brighton since Pascal Gross in 2017/18. Only his international compatriot, Robert Sanchez (3,329), played more minutes than Cucurella (3,089), who was Brighton’s best ball progressor – across 381 progressive passes and carries (206 carries, 175 passes), the Spaniard moved the ball the equivalent of 141 lengths of the Amex pitch.

His positional versatility was evident too, featuring at least nine times as left-back, outside centre-back and wing-back in a back five. Beyond ball progression, the Spaniard offered seriously quality in the final third, topping Brighton charts for open-play shot-creating actions (66), successful open-play crosses into opposition box (23) and nutmegs (8).

Best creator

Pascal Gross

The German wins this award for the second season running. Nobody could better his 91 total shot-creating actions, whilst his per-game total of four was comfortably top of the Albion pile, and ranked him inside the top ten Premier League players this season – only in the 2019/20 season (4.6) has Gross averaged a higher shot-creating action per game total. Noted for his set-piece speciality, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (52) and James Ward-Prowse (51) recorded more dead-ball shot-creating actions than Gross (37) in the Premier League this campaign. Brighton’s No.13 led the Albion in terms of xG created (5.3) and had the most big chances created of any Brighton player (6), with only Enock Mwepu (4) capable of matching Gross’ assists total (4).

Best non-goal scorer

Jakub Moder

Brighton had 14 different scorers this season, just one fewer of last season’s club record (15). Jakub Moder doesn’t win this award for the want of trying – only Dwight McNeil (52) took more shots without scoring in the Premier League than Moder (28), who cruelly had his season curtailed through injury. The Poland international has consistently provided threat with runs beyond the defensive line, ranking inside the top 20% of Premier League midfielders this season for (per 90) progressive passes received (4.8), nutmegs (0.2), final third touches/pressures/tackles (25.6/5.7/0.5), crosses (1.5) and assists (one every 567 minutes).

Best individual performance

Enock Mwepu v Arsenal (A)

The new award for this season, decided using the SofaScore match rating, which grades performance by weighting positive and negative values to successful and unsuccessful actions. The Zambian earned a 9.1 rating with an assist and emphatic match-winning strike at Arsenal in April, firing home a chance of just 6% goal-scoring probability. At Arsenal, Mwepu had a season’s best league performance for tackles + interceptions (8), shots (3) and fouls won (3).