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Talking Tactics

Brighton look to be more positive under Potter

Adrian Clarke 28 Jun 2019
Dale Stephens, Brighton

Adrian Clarke says Seagulls' new head coach will strive for a more progressive passing style this season

Adrian Clarke looks at key areas where Premier League clubs can improve for the 2019/20 season.

Brighton & Hove Albion

To do better than last season’s 17th-place finish, Brighton must be more enterprising in the final third.

Brighton created only 207 chances from open play last term, or 5.4 per match, the second-lowest tally in the Premier League.

They had the second-lowest number of expected goals, with 36.0, and returned the fourth-lowest goal return of 35, scoring once every 97.7 minutes on average.

The focus must be on creating more quality chances.

Fewest expected goals 2018/19
 Club xG Goals
Cardiff 43.2 34
Fulham 42.0 34
Newcastle 39.5 42
Brighton 36.0 35
Huddersfield 29.3 22

New head coach Graham Potter is known to be more attack-minded than his predecessor Chris Hughton, so I would expect a greater tactical emphasis to be placed on forward play.

The signing of left winger Leandro Trossard from Genk this week is designed to add potency.

The 24-year-old Belgian is an exciting wide forward who likes to run at defenders, and he boasts an end-product, too.

Last season Trossard produced 14 goals and seven assists in the Jupiler League, with an additional eight strikes and three assists in 11 UEFA Europa League matches.

He seems just the type of player Brighton need.

Trossard v Brighton wingers 2018/19
League Trossard Knockaert March Locadia
Mins played 2789 1833 2474 1229
Goals 14 2 1 2
Assists 7 6 5 0
Chances created 72 29 41 13
Mins/goal involvement 132.8 229.1 412.3 614.5

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Last season Brighton sat back in a deep block, adopting a counter-attacking style and making very few passes.

Potter will insist his side show more confidence in possession.

His philosophy is based around positive, passing football, so it will be interesting to see how the players he has inherited will adapt.

The midfielders will need to be more progressive with the ball.

While Davy Propper and Dale Stephens (pictured top) are good passers, they will be given more responsibility under the new regime.

Fewest passes per match 2018/19
Club Total
Cardiff 269
Burnley 342
Newcastle 355
Brighton 371
Southampton 376

Potter likes intelligent movement in midfield, with players showing for the ball to feet when his defenders are looking to play out from the back.

The signing of centre-back Matt Clarke from Portsmouth is a nod towards this change in style.

While the 22-year-old is a big, strong defender, he is also composed in possession.

Clarke can pass precisely over short and long distances and will be well suited to Potter’s desire to move the ball through the lines.

Brighton's opening fixtures

"I love making tackles and blocks and winning headers, as any defender does," Clarke told Brighton's official website.

"Aside from that I’d like to think I have a little bit of quality on the ball as well."

Veteran striker Glenn Murray is a terrific target man with a natural poacher’s instinct.

However, Brighton need alternatives comprising pace, clever footwork and the ability to manufacture their own chances.

Florin Andone has shown flashes of potential, but I would sense Potter will invest in a sharp, new goal threat who would reap the benefits of his more attacking approach.

Brighton's fortunes will depend on how well they adapt to a fresh playing style and how many goals they can score.

If they can retain their organisation and defensive resolve while being more positive and adding attacking flair, they can make forward strides this season.

See: Adrian Clarke on how each club can improve

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