More missed chances
One home win and 9 points from the 13 home league games Albion have played so far in 2020 is a worrying trend.
One issue that has continued to be discussed throughout that period has been the team’s perceived wastefulness in front of goal, which has been costing them where it counts, the points accumulated total in the league table.
Ahead of this season the focus for the team has been about taking more of the chances they are creating and capitalising from their periods of dominance. With the teams progression seemed contingent upon not just taking the chances being created but creating better chances too.
In regards to the later, Adam Lallana was the real positive from the draw against West Brom. And as soon as he came off Albion appeared to lose control of the game.
It’s been a constant issue for Albion this season. Despite appearing in all of their league games this season, Lallana is yet to complete a full 90 minutes. But his ability to keep the ball moving in the opposition half has been crucial with only the impressive Steven Alzate having a better passing accuracy % in the opposition half.
Meanwhile, in regards to the former, the pressure on Maupay continues to grow after having his fair share of yet more of those missed chances. So will we see new signing Danny Welbeck start against Spurs on Sunday in his place?
Neal Maupay has up to very recently been pretty undroppable. It shows how far this this team has come that he’s now deemed dispensable by so many.
I amongst others have been critical of Maupay’s missed chances in recent games, particularly against West Brom. But maybe we are being too harsh?
According to FBref.com Maupay’s XG this season is 4.4, so his total goal tally of 4 stands up as a decent return from the 6 games played.
Yes the team has missed chances, but Brighton have scored in every league game this season with 10 goals scored in the 6 games equating to a far higher rate of scoring than last season. And don’t forget the high standard of opposition played in many of those matches.
But this was achieved whilst keeping just one clean sheet and conceding a whopping 14 goals. Only Liverpool and West Brom have conceded more in the Premier League so far this season.
Maybe our biases about Albion’s missed chances and the perceived strength in depth of its centre backs are masking the real issues?
Patience for Potter
Last night’s game against West Brom was a huge test for this young Albion team. One that highlighted its inexperience in being unable to see the game out under increased pressure from West Brom.
But, a bad 45 minutes doesn’t make a bad team and there have been plenty of positives during the season so far.
West Brom’s 2nd half substitutions changed the game. Graham Potter reacted by changing from the established back 5 to a back 4, which if anything seemed to make Albion more vulnerable at the back. Something highlighted by the defending for the West Brom goal. Where there was so much space for Grant to take a touch, turn and shoot. Too easy.
In hindsight the change to a back four appears to have been a strange one. With Albion holding a slender one goal lead and needing to see out arguably its most important 30 minutes of defending so far this season, was such a tactical shift really the best option?
This type of change typifies Potter’s versatile tactical style, expecting his squad to be able to adapt to almost constant changes in position, personnel and system. Almost the polar opposite of his predecessor Chris Hughton whose organised and at times predictable approach led to just as many frustrations.
As last night shows, Potter won’t always get it right, but on the whole, he’s still building a fantastic football team that looks more competitive than ever in the topflight. And let’s not let the at times enchanting football this team has played let us forget they are not without their limitations.
Ben Mayhew’s statistical models are always very enlightening. The squad churn graphic in particular is a useful reminder of where Albion are right now, which shows Brighton having the highest squad churn of any Premier League team this summer.
The losses of Duffy, Schelotto, Montoya, Stephens, Mooy and Murray, who contributed 141 Premier League appearances between them last season, will be keenly felt by many of the younger players who are replacing them like Bissouma, White, Lamptey and Alzate. All of whom now have higher levels of expectations weighing on their shoulders than ever before.
Add to that against West Brom that captain Lewis Dunk’s was suspended along with Davy Propper’s continued absence through injury and the problems the team experienced in the second half look far more surmountable, given time.
In short, Graham Potter deserves your Patience
Taking advantage of European competition fixture congestion
With Spurs in Europa League action on Thursday, Albion visit to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Sunday is a rare chance for Albion to take advantage of the physical strains and lack of preparation time that come with European football.
Unfortunately, it’s not something the club have a good record at doing, having picked up just 4 points from a possible 21 over the past three seasons when playing teams the weekend after their midweek European exploits. The only win of those 7 matches being 3-0 at home to next Sunday’s opponents.
FA football leadership and diversity code
Yesterday the FA launched a new Football Leadership Diversity Code to drive diversity and inclusion across English football, with over 40 clubs across the Premier League, EFL, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship committing to tackle inequality across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles.
I’m glad to see that Albion signed up. As I’m sure will ex-Albion boss Chris Hughton be, who was an outspoken advocate for better representation whilst in charge and continues to be a leading voice in this campaign.
Our football clubs owe it to their communities to be more inclusive & representative. Only then can we ensure we‘re getting the best people for the job.
The code is said to “focus on increasing equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society.”
Paul Elliott, chair of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, said: “positive and tangible action is required to drive change and take the next step. We believe the introduction of the Football Leadership Diversity Code will signal a long-term change for the English game. The number and stature of clubs that have already agreed to join us on this journey proves that together, with clear goals, transparency and a desire for action, we can shape a better future together. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”
Time will tell if genuine change and progress will be instigated from this move rather than it just being another bit of useful PR for football executives, something I think we’ve all had enough of. As Paul Elliot said himself, it’s tangible change that we now really need to see.