Summer Series

Summer Series: What we learned in Match Round 2

By Adrian Clarke 28 Jul 2023
Maatsen, Gordon, Steele

Including Chelsea's twin No 10s, Adrian Clarke looks at some interesting things from the three matches

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Adrian Clarke reviews the second round of matches in the Premier League Summer Series.

Brentford 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Simon Adingra was the star of the show in Brighton & Hove Albion's 2-0 win against Brentford as he grabbed the opportunity to impress Roberto De Zerbi.

The 21-year-old Ivory Coast international has catapulted himself into contention for Premier League starts with an outstanding brace in Atlanta.

See: De Zerbi - Adingra will be a big player

Just like team-mate Kaoru Mitoma, Adingra spent a season on loan with Belgian club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, after joining from Nordsjaelland last summer.

He scored 11 league goals in 2022/23, and based on his display he looks capable of transferring that goal threat to English football.

Adingra's 2022/23 stats
Stat Total
Starts 20
Minutes played 1,905
Goals 11
Assists 9
Mins/goal involvement 100.3

Adingra raced on to a sensational Jason Steele pass to score a wonderful first-half opener against the Bees, showcasing pace, movement, a silky touch, and a clinical right foot.

Then, during the second period he found space on the left side of the box before curling a precise effort into the far corner.

It looks as if Brighton are going to have serious competition for places in the wide areas this season.

Steele shows his importance

We learned from this match that no matter how many times Brighton lose the ball inside their own territory, they will continue playing out from the back in the same manner.

Steele’s distribution was a real mixed bag against Brentford’s pressing, with possession intercepted on numerous occasions.

Yet the Seagulls persisted with their risky policy of drawing opponents onto them, before sliding forward passes around, or between rival players.

Despite frequently giving the ball away in this manner, striker Joao Pedro was competent at holding the ball up when Steele’s fizzed passes reached him.

Under pressure the 21-year-old confidently held off the attention of his markers and looked an ideal "out ball".

For Adingra’s brilliant opening goal, Joao Pedro and Julio Enciso both came short with decoy runs that dragged Brentford’s centre-backs into their half.

Steele spotted space in behind and launched a magnificent 70-yard pass for Adingra, who made a clever angled run inside the right-back before finishing with aplomb. You can watch analysis of how it unfolded below.

It was a high-class assist which justified Brighton’s faith in their goalkeeper’s distribution.

"Our strikers made a double movement to come in and once I see the centre-half go in with them, I know the space is in behind," Steele said after the match as he revealed he will "always" play out from the back, or he will no longer be picked to start.

Signs of promise for Brentford

Thomas Frank will have been disappointed to lose, but his team pressed with far greater aggression and organisation, creating a few golden opportunities to score from turnovers.

Yoane Wissa was also extremely sharp, firing off a series of shots.

His movement was bright, and but for some terrific saves from Steele would have added to the Summer Series goal he scored against Fulham.

Fulham 0-2 Aston Villa

The main difference between these two teams was Aston Villa’s ability to pick out forwards with passes played over the top.

Cameron Archer won a penalty by latching onto a sublime Boubacar Kamara pass lifted over the Fulham backline.

Kamara to Archer

Bernd Leno saved Archer's spot-kick, but later on Marco Silva’s side were powerless to stop Villa's new signing Moussa Diaby from grabbing his first goal for the club.

The Frenchman made a great angled run in beyond Issa Diop, which was expertly picked up by a glorious long-range Douglas Luiz pass over the top.

Unai Emery’s side only mustered five shots but their speed in forward areas, coupled with a willingness to play progressive through balls, gave them better penetration.

In contrast, Fulham had limited options in attack, with Carlos Vinicius unable to outpace the likes of Diego Carlos, Pau Torres or Ezri Konsa.

Too much of Fulham’s neat and tidy football did not stretch Villa.

Light on numbers but promising football

A depleted Fulham side enjoyed 59 per cent of possession, controlling large portions of the match.

They moved the ball well and with patience. This was no mean feat considering Silva had no choice but to field a very young, inexperienced second-half side.

Of those, Welsh teenager Luke Harris, 18, produced a lively second-half cameo, drawing the save of the match from a full stretch Emiliano Martinez.

Central defender Luc De Fougerolles also grew into the match after conceding a first-half penalty.

The 17-year-old marshalled Ollie Watkins very well and passed the ball with confidence.

Silva will have liked what he saw from several of his players, but as it stands, his first-team squad feels pretty small.

Newcastle United 1-1 Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino likes to use inverted wingers that come infield to offer a goal threat, leaving the flanks open for his full-backs to exploit.

And we are already beginning to see a pattern like this from his Chelsea starting XI.

In the draw with Newcastle United in Atlanta, the versatile Ian Maatsen operated as a narrow right-sided forward, regularly joining forces with Christopher Nkunku to become twin No 10s in behind striker Nicolas Jackson.

Maatsen, who was on loan as a left-back with Burnley last season, was the Blues’ most dangerous player.

He was excellent at popping up behind Newcastle's central midfield, and played an inch-perfect through-ball for Jackson to score from.

As you can see below, Nkunku also offered a run – a little like Dele used to from a No 10 role when playing for Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur.

It will have thrilled Pochettino that when Maatsen received the ball on the half-turn, he had the choice of two or three runners to pick out.

Maatsen to Jackson
Strong at both ends

Eddie Howe’s midfield unit has not functioned as well as he would have liked on US soil, but he will have been pleased with contributions from his forwards and goalkeeper.

Nick Pope was outstanding during a busy second half, making a trio of stellar saves from Nkunku, Conor Gallagher and Ben Chilwell.

In attack it was the versatile Anthony Gordon who shone brightest, producing a couple of exciting runs at the Chelsea back four.

It was the England Under-21 star’s clever dribble and pass that released Miguel Almiron perfectly for his equaliser in first-half stoppage time.

During the second period it was also interesting to see Gordon occasionally switching positions with striker Alexander Isak, taking up a central role.

This is a tactical tweak we may see more often from the Magpies this term.

Isak loves driving in from the left, as he showed when dancing past Reece James in one of his team's better second-half attacks.

See: What we learned in Matchday 1

Summer Series Matchday 3 schedule

Friday, July 28
Brighton v Newcastle (Red Bull Arena; Harrison, New Jersey)

Sunday, July 30
Aston Villa v Brentford (FedExField; Landover, Maryland)
Chelsea v Fulham (FedExField; Landover, Maryland)

Summer Series

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
1 Chelsea CHE 3 +3 7
2 Aston Villa AVL 3 +2 5
3 Newcastle NEW 3 +1 5
4 Brighton BHA 3 0 3
5 Fulham FUL 3 -3 3
6 Brentford BRE 3 -3 1
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