Brighton are FOURTH in the Premier League xG table. If they gamble on a striker, they might hit the jackpot and finally start returning on those promising statistics
- Brighton gave a good performance in a 2-0 home win against Leeds on Saturday
- But they are still underperforming based on the amount of chances they create
- And a top-class goalscorer could boost Graham Potter’s Seagulls up the league
When Pep Guardiola described Brighton’s Graham Potter as the ‘best English manager in the world’ earlier this season, it was not intended as a joke.
Nor are the reports linking the Seagulls boss with Tottenham, or the metrics putting Brighton fourth in the ‘expected points’ table. So you’d expect to check the real table and see Albion comfortably in the top half. But they are not.
The Premier League’s nearly team are struggling to take the step from relegation battle to comfortable mid-table spot, despite this win over Leeds confirming their top-flight status for a club-record fifth straight season.
Graham Potter’s Brighton need to sign a striker to move to the next level and climb the table
Danny Welbeck’s late Cruyff turn and finish secured the points after Pascal Gross’s first-half penalty, but for much of the match a similar pattern felt like it was set to haunt Brighton.
‘It was a really good performance that ended in a result and that’s great,’ said Potter, noting that dominant displays have often ended with nothing to show for them.
But when it all comes together, as it did in blowing Leeds away here, it does not take a football genius to see the problem at Brighton: no prolific goalscorer.
The Seagulls performed well in a 2-0 win against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds on Saturday afternoon
Based on millions of goals, the expected goals (xG) metric has worked out how likely a player is to score based on their position on the pitch. For example, a striker is much more likely to score in the six-yard box than with a shot from 30 yards.
Brighton’s xG is 51 — 16 more than their actual tally. The metric adds that based upon their chances, they should have a staggering 21 more points — which would put them fourth in the Premier League; but football is played on the pitch.
Potter admitted: ‘If everybody’s chances went in, the game would be a bit dull. The hardest thing is to put the ball into the net. Nothing is ever certain. You can spend £50million on somebody and it doesn’t guarantee success.’
Danny Welbeck scored a fine goal but the side needs a top-level goalscorer to progress
On the other hand, a free transfer such as Welbeck can be shrewd business. The 30-year-old has scored big goals and looks sharper now than at any time since his Manchester United days.
Potter will be delighted if Welbeck extends his deal this summer. The manager is also likely to persevere with Neal Maupay despite just 18 goals in 70 Premier League matches.
But there is only so much Potter can do. Brighton are carving out clear-cut chances for fun and have a solid defence led by Lewis Dunk, whose lack of consideration by England is baffling. But Albion still find themselves in annual scraps for safety.
Chairman-owner Tony Bloom made his millions in sports betting and poker. If he were to gamble with a big-money signing up front, Brighton could hit the jackpot and finally start climbing the table.
Match Facts: Brighton v Leeds
BRIGHTON (3-4-1-2): Sanchez 6.5; White 7.5, Webster 7, Dunk 8; Veltman 6.5, Gross 7, Bissouma 7 (Mac Allister 90+2), Burn 6.5; Trossard 7.5 (Jahanbakhsh 81); Welbeck 8.5 (Moder 90), Maupay 5.
Subs not used: Steele, Connolly, Alzate, Izquierdo, Propper, Zeqiri.
Scorers: Gross 14 (pen), Welbeck 79.
Manager: Graham Potter 8.
LEEDS UNITED (4-1-4-1): Meslier 6.5; Ayling 6, Llorente 5 (Hernandez 79), Struijk 5, Alioski 5 (Poveda 46, 5); Koch 6.5; Dallas 6, Klich 6, Roberts 6, Harrison 5; Bamford 5 (Rodrigo 59, 6).
Subs not used: Casilla, Berardi, Drameh, Shackleton, Jenkins, Huggins. Booked: Ayling.
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa 5.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh 7.