Albion Analytics: Welbeck's first 100 games

We look at the numbers behind Danny's century of Albion appearances.

By Liam Tharme • 05 April 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck celebrates his goal against Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday.

Albion’s away game against Liverpool brought up 100 Premier League appearances for Danny Welbeck in the blue and white stripes and he made it 101 when he came off the bench at Brentford in Wednesday’s goalless draw.

It is more Premier League appearances than Welbeck made for Manchester United (92) and Arsenal (88) while 34 goal involvements in those 100 Brighton games (22 goals, 11 assists, including penalties won that were then scored) eclipses his 33 goal involvements at United (20 goals, 13 assists) and 28 at Arsenal (16 goals, 12 assists).

“In my time it is his best moment. [He is] a great player, great guy,” said Roberto De Zerbi on Welbeck this week. “We have to keep him for a lot of years. He is playing very well, and he is important for the young players and for the dressing room.”

Welbeck is fifth on Albion’s Premier League goals all-time list. He is three behind Leandro Trossard (25), and four off Neal Maupay and Glenn Murray (26) in joint-second, though Pascal Gross is clear with 30 goals.

Welbeck was signed by Graham Potter in 2020. Since Welbeck’s debut season in 2020-21 he has the most goals by a Brighton player, with 22. Of those, eight have been opening goals and six have been equalisers. In the same time frame, his 171 shots and 73 shots on target are also squad highs while Leandro Trossard is the only player to better his 345 touches in the opposition box.

Specifically, under De Zerbi, Welbeck’s 13 goals in all competitions are only beaten by Joao Pedro (19) and Evan Ferguson (15). There are few Premier League forwards who can compete with Welbeck’s goalscoring variety. He has scored with his left foot, right foot and head in three of his four Premier League seasons at Brighton, only failing score a goal with each in 2021-22 when he did not score with his left.

It is as much a case of anyhow as anywhere with Welbeck. Four of his 22 Brighton Premier League goals have been outside the box, 18 inside the box, with six in the six-yard box.

On a personal level, the move to Sussex has brought him some stability. In 2020-21 he enjoyed his best scoring season for six years, and Welbeck managed six league goals in each of his first three seasons at Brighton - the first time he has scored that many in back-to-back-to-back seasons. Stretch that to all competitions and he has already managed six goals this season, making it four campaigns in a row.

Of his first 100 Premier League appearances for Albion, 68 were starts though he only completed 24 games, which makes it important to look at minutes per goal and per 90 performances rather than just goals per game.

Welbeck has scored a Premier League goal every 273 minutes at Brighton, only marginally less frequent than at Arsenal (270 minutes) and United (253 minutes).

“There isn’t a No.9, really,” Welbeck told The Guardian in April 2023, speaking about De Zerbi’s play style. “You’re working for the build-up play, for the defenders and the midfielders, also. “You’re involved in that buildup and then, as quickly as possible, it’s about progressing up the pitch and exploiting certain areas of whoever we’re coming up against.”

This is reflected in Welbeck’s percentile rankings. Comparing him against other top-five league European forwards over the past year, Welbeck’s goals per 90 and shots per 90 rank above average but he is also in the top 10% for shot-creating actions and tackles, while ranking in the top 20% for passes, pass completion, interceptions, blocks and clearances.

Unsurprisingly, Welbeck’s roundedness means Brighton are better when he plays. In those 100 Premier League appearances, Albion won more than they lost (37 versus 33 games). Since the start of 2020-21, it means Albion have a better record with Welbeck than without, when looking at win rate (37% vs 30.2%), goals per game (1.5 vs 1.3), shots per game and pass accuracy in the final third.

Welbeck’s ability to impact games from the bench is among the very best. Welbeck ranks eighth on the all-time list and has the most Premier League goals as a substitute among active players in the league. Of those 14 substitute goals, seven have been for Brighton. For a free transfer signing only on an initial one-year contract it is a move that has gone excellently.