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Brighton: The unluckiest team in the Premier League?

West Bromwich Albion v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
West Bromwich Albion v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
ANALYST
Modified 05 Mar 2021
Feature

Brighton and Hove Albion manager Graham Potter has been hailed as one of the best English coaches in the Premier League. He rose out of obscurity while taking an interesting managerial role: managing Swedish club Ostersunds FK and guiding them to the Swedish top-flight from the fourth tier within a space of four years.

He also guided them to the Europa League group stage through the qualifying rounds and even defeated Arsenal at the Emirates. All of this was achieved on a shoestring budget, with his team playing some slick passing football.

A call from the Premier League was imminent as he found himself at the helm of Brighton by 2019, as the coastal club embarked on a paradigm shift in their style of football. After one and a half seasons, we can certainly say that their football style has improved dramatically, but has it improved their fortunes? Not quite.

Brighton sit 16th in the table after 26 rounds of matches, albeit just 3 points above Fulham in the relegation zone. After all, this was not the sort of league position Brighton owners would have hoped for while appointing Graham Potter as their manager.

They have been one of the most consistent sides in the Premier League in terms of creating chances, but have been unlucky not to score.

What do their Premier League stats say?

Brighton's transformation is clearly evident from the fact that they rank 9th in terms of passes in the Premier League, having passed even more than Mourinho's Tottenham. Their expected goals scored per game ratio(XG) stands at 1.62 per game, which is the 7th highest in the Premier League this season.

So going by the stats they should have scored 42 goals, however their goal tally stands at a mere 26 goals. Defensively they have been solid as they have conceded 33 goals this season, just 1 more than 2nd placed Manchester United.

This points to the fact that the football philosophy being implemented by Graham Potter is working, it is just that their finishing has let them down.

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Brighton have created, but failed to score
Brighton have created, but failed to score

Take, for instance, their recent 1-0 defeat to West Brom. Statistically they should have scored three goals, but owing to some really questionable refereeing they were able to score none, thus losing to a direct relegation rival.

In the previous match, they created a host of chances against Crystal Palace, including two penalties (both of which they missed) but were unable to prevent defeat.

That has pretty much been their story for this season in the Premier League. They have created chances but failed in front of goal, leading to an accumulation of 0-0 draws which perhaps only Manchester United can rival at the moment.

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Brighton could be dragged into a relegation fight.
Brighton could be dragged into a relegation fight.

After a poor run of form at the start of the season, Brighton secured back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Tottenham. So there was genuine hope they could go on a winning run to enter the top half of the table, but instead they find themselves in a fight to avoid relegation.

Luck too hasn't been in their favor as they have missed 33 big chances, the 6th highest in the Premier League and have hit the woodwork 13 times, the 5th highest among all Premier League teams.

It has been a season of fine margins, and Potter will hope they don't rue these missed chances come the end of the season.

What next for Potter and Brighton?

With almost a third of the Premier League still to go, nothing can be ruled out yet. If they are able to improve their finishing dramatically, considering the extremely tight nature of this season, they could still go on to achieve a top-half finish.

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However, on the darker side, Fulham have kicked back into life and are now threatening teams like Brighton, Newcastle, Burnley and Southampton with the real prospect of playing in the Championship next season.

However, it would be in Brighton's interest if the owners keep faith in Potter and instead provide him with some more funds to bolster the squad next season. Now is the time to enjoy the fruits of the hard work he has put into the team over the past two seasons.

Published 05 Mar 2021, 05:41 IST
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