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Talking Tactics

Murray can profit from fast partner against Watford

Adrian Clarke 7 Feb 2020
Glenn Murray WHUBHA cele

Adrian Clarke explains which fast Brighton forward is best suited to start alongside the veteran in a big match at the bottom

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points ahead of Matchweek 26.

Graham Potter arrived in the top flight with a reputation for being a flexible tactician and he has lived up to that tag with Brighton & Hove Albion.

Experimenting with eight different starting formations in 25 Premier League matches, he is a head coach who likes to keep opposition managers guessing.

Most formations used 2019/20
Manager Club Most formations used
Potter BHA 8
Hassenhuttl  SOU 8
Howe BOU 7

For the visit of Watford this Saturday, it may be wise for Potter to revert to the shape that has served the Seagulls best this term, a narrow 4-4-2.

It is a system that helped earn them impressive home victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Norwich City.

Brighton also collected four points from a possible six against Arsenal and Chelsea using a near-identical 4-4-2 diamond.

Against a Watford side who may be low on confidence after suffering consecutive defeats, I would expect the Seagulls to play on the front foot with two strikers.

Brighton systems 2019/20
Formation Matches Win ratio
4-1-2-1-2 2 50.0%
4-4-2 7 42.9%
4-2-3-1 4 25.0%
3-4-3 7 14.3%
3-4-2-1 2 0%
4-3-3 1 0%
3-5-1-1 1 0%
4-3-2-1 1 0%

Having claimed only one victory in their last 10 Premier League matches, Potter and his players will be aware how important this contest is against a team just three points beneath them.

Statistically speaking, Brighton's win ratios are significantly better when starting with two up front.

Who partners Murray?

It will be hard for Potter to leave out Glenn Murray after the striker's excellent display at West Ham United.

On his first start since mid-September, the 36-year-old led the line well throughout an exciting 3-3 draw which culminated in his equaliser.

Fellow forwards Neal Maupay and Aaron Connolly were unused substitutes at London Stadium, so they will be fresh for Watford's visit.

Watch Murray's goal v West Ham

Maupay, the club's top scorer who netted in a 3-0 win over Watford on his Brighton debut in August, will be favourite to partner Murray.

With the highest top speed of any Seagulls player at 34.95km/h, Connolly is hard-working and quicker than Maupay, who has reached 33.25km/h this season.

Either is a good fit next to Murray but seven-goal Maupay is the striker Watford will be most worried about.

Consistently able to find space inside the box, Maupay has had the most efforts on goal for Brighton this season by some margin.

Connolly, meanwhile, has found the net in just one match this term, firing a brace in the 3-0 win at home to Spurs.

Most shots by Brighton players
2019/20 Shots Shots on target
Maupay 48 27
Dunk 19 8
Gross 19 9
Mooy 18 5
Connolly 17 10

Brighton have produced some delightful pass-and-move football this season, switching seamlessly to a possession-based style under Potter. However, a lack of speed throughout the side is an issue.

At the back they have been vulnerable to longer balls sent in behind their central defenders.

In 2018/19, Brighton sat much deeper but a desire to squeeze up higher under Potter has left them susceptible to through-balls.

Inside the final third, most of their key players are technically gifted rather than powerful or athletic.

Injection of pace

Pascal Gross, who has a top speed of 30.73km/h, Aaron Mooy (31.79) and Murray (30.47) are among the slowest members of the team.

This is why the introduction of Maupay or Connolly feels a must in this vital fixture at the bottom of the table.

To seize on any mental fragility Watford may be experiencing, Brighton must attack this encounter in a positive fashion.

Also in this series 

Part 1: All-rounder Billing at the centre of Cherries' revival
Part 3: Calvert-Lewin benefiting from Ancelotti faith
Part 4: Can Man City solve their efficiency problem?

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