Albion Analytics' 2023/24 season review

Here's how the numbers looked behind our campaign.

By Liam Tharme • 22 May 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
One of the high points of the season - the 4-2 win over Tottenham.

“We are happy for our season but maybe not enough,” said head coach Roberto De Zerbi after the penultimate game of the season against Chelsea. “I think we gave our best” was his assessment after final-day defeat at home to Manchester United.

While good starts to Premier League seasons have been a feature for Brighton — regardless of head coach — 2023-24 was on a different level. De Zerbi’s side won five of their first six, with three 3-1 wins and two 4-1 victories, the club’s best start to a Premier League season. After two games, they were top of the league, the 53rd club to finish a day in first place of the English top-flight.

The first-half of the season was strong. Albion had to juggle a first-ever European campaign, frontloading the first three months of the season with a frequent Thursday-Sunday schedule. All in, Albion played 49 games, their most in a season as a Premier League club (around five more games than their seasonal average). Even after a slow start in Europe, they won their final four group-stage games without conceding, including away wins in Amsterdam (Ajax) and Athens (AEK), to top the group — no English team has ever had a better Europa League group-stage on debut.

At halfway in the Premier League, Albion were eighth on 30 points, winning eight, drawing six and losing six, having outscored opponents 38-33. There was foreshadowing though, as Albion’s attack fired but they were leaky at the back, scoring and conceding in each of their first 16 games until a 2-0 defeat at away to Arsenal in December — it took Albion until matchday 20 to keep a clean sheet, in a 0-0 draw away to West Ham.

Those defensive shortcomings were not unique to Albion though, with the Premier League goals record being absolutely smashed (hitting 1,246, over 3.2 goals-per-game). Brighton were one of 17 teams to concede 50+ (and 13 teams to score and concede 50+), the most in over 100 years of top-flight English football.

Notably, Albion’s defence was better in the second-half of the season, conceding 29 (four fewer), though Albion lost nine games and only managed 17 goals. It was not that they failed to create chances, but underperformed their expected goals (quality of chances created) by ten, with only Everton more wasteful. Albion only registered 18 points (4 wins, 6 draws) from the final 19 games, their worst second-half of a season since 2018-19 (3 wins, 5 draws, 14 points), though they did face, statistically, the hardest run-in out of anyone. Compared to 2022-23, when they finished with a flourish by winning nine of the final 19 and taking 31 points, the form dwindled.

To suggest it was a bad season, in any form, is harsh and does not put enough stock into the first half, falling foul of recency bias. It ought to be remembered how much Albion suffered due to injuries too. An article from The Athletic showed Brighton had the fourth most time-loss injuries and the fifth most days lost to injury in the league. It is partially why De Zerbi made 143 starting line-up changes, with only Manchester United in 2013-14 (144) and Manchester City in 2019-20 (144) ever making more.

In spite of this, Brighton went 12 games unbeaten at home between early September and March. Only City (19) and Liverpool (16) managed longer such runs, and Brighton outscored opponents 23-12 in that run, featuring memorable wins over Tottenham (4-2) and Crystal Palace (4-1), the latter being their biggest derby win at home since 2013. It was Albion’s best Premier League season ever at home, taking 30 points from 19 home games, the ninth-best home form in the league.

It should also be remembered how young this Brighton team is, with an average age of 25.9 (down from 26.3 last season) their youngest since 2020-21 (25.8yrs), while five of the 50 youngest starting XIs in the Premier League in 2023-24 were Brighton teams — only Chelsea and Burnley ever named younger starting XIs than Brighton’s team which beat Palace 4-1 with a starting XI average age of 23.8.

Here’s to 2024-25.