Talking Tactics

How Gordon's pace and energy can trouble Brighton

1 Sep 2023

Adrian Clarke explains why the attacker can get Newcastle back on track when they travel to Amex Stadium

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 4.

Player analysis - Anthony Gordon

Eddie Howe may look to follow the tactical blueprint West Ham United used to beat Brighton & Hove Albion on their patch last weekend.

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Learning from that, Newcastle United are likely to make the long trip south to the Amex Stadium with counter-attacking football on their minds.

While the Magpies may want a slightly larger share of the ball than the 22 per cent enjoyed by the Hammers in that 3-1 success, they will often sit behind the ball and wait for their opportunities to pounce.

As he is quick, tall, and mobile, Alexander Isak is an ideal centre-forward to have when devising that game plan.

Along with flying wingers Miguel Almiron, Gordon and Harvey Barnes, they also have three expert ball carriers with pace.

Energetic Gordon a threat

With new signing Barnes breathing down his neck for a starting spot on the left of Newcastle's attack, Gordon has performed with great heart and desire early on this season.

The 22-year-old crossed brilliantly for Sandro Tonali to score on the opening weekend and in the same match, his through-ball released Isak to also net.

Premier League's quickest players 2023/24
Player Minutes Top speed (km/h)
Dominic Solanke 270 36.10
Anthony Gordon 196 35.67
Adama Traore 23 35.55
Alejandro Garnacho 134 35.01
Ameen Al Dakhil 180 34.97

In last Sunday’s 1-2 loss at home to Liverpool, it was Gordon who pounced on a Trent Alexander-Arnold mistake to score the opener.

Knowing that he may not last 90 minutes (he has been replaced in the 68th, 56th and 72nd minute), Gordon has played with tremendous energy.

Brighton will be fearful of Gordon running at their right-back, with and without the ball.

If James Milner starts there for Roberto De Zerbi, it will certainly not be easy for the veteran to contain a winger with such directness and rapid speed.

No one in the division has produced more shot-ending ball carries, and Gordon is third behind Manchester City pair Phil Foden and Jack Grealish for chance-creating ball carries.

Leading ball carries/most fouled 23/24
Player Shot-ending ball carries Player Chance-creating ball carries Player Fouled 
Gordon 6 Foden 11 Gordon 10
Foden 5 Grealish 8 Ayew 10
Eze 4 Gordon 7 Guimaraes 9
Danjuma 4 Mitoma 6 Aarons 9
- - Cunha 6 - -

Always looking to compete in 50-50 duels or take on his man, Gordon is also the joint most-fouled player (10 times) after three matches.

Familiar pattern

Brighton have only lost five Premier League matches under De Zerbi, and in all of those, there has been a running theme.

They have dominated possession in each match, averaging a remarkable 70.8 per cent. Yet on each occasion, their opponents soaked up pressure before striking hard and fast on the break.

Howe’s men are built to counter, so this approach will suit them.

Brighton home defeats under De Zerbi
Opponent Result Possession split %
West Ham 1-3 78-22
Everton 1-5 77.7-22.3
Fulham 0-1 65.3-34.7
Arsenal 2-4 67.8-32.2
Aston Villa 1-2 65.1-34.9

If Newcastle's counter-attacking strategy is performed well, Gordon definitely has the attributes and form to cause problems, much like he did to Liverpool.

Also in this series

Part 2: Why Arteta has changed his Arsenal defence

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