Brighton vs Liverpool

Brighton vs Liverpool Preview: Seagulls to ground Liverbirds?

Brighton vs Liverpool is a massive game for the league leaders. Have they gone off the boil with two defeats in a row? Is this the point their title challenge crumbles into dust now their unbeaten record has gone? And who is going to play at centre-back since Dejan Lovren hobbled off inside six minutes at Wolves?

The answers, at least to my mind, are: no, no and, er, Fabinho I guess? To address the first point, while the Reds have been beaten in their last two fixtures, the stats suggest they were unlucky to lose at City on the balance of chances. The same stats would imply they deserved to lose at Wolves, but the Liverpool team sheet confirmed that was always likely, whatever numbers were eventually totted up by both sides.

There’s no reason their bid for a first title 29 years will fall away any time soon either. If anything, their expected goals figures suggest they’re getting stronger at the moment, not worse.  Read More

Chelsea vs Leicester

Chelsea vs Leicester Preview: Good times for Blues, pressure on Foxes

After losing 3-1 to Arsenal at the Emirates, Leicester City embarked on a six-game unbeaten run. It ensured they remained inside the Premier League top 10 up until match day 15. But two consecutive defeats have sent the Foxes reeling. They’re now 12th in the table and could sink further with another defeat here.

Meanwhile, Chelsea are beginning to breathe some fresh air. They got hounded by Wolves on match day 15 but bounced back remarkably to end Manchester City’s unbeaten streak with a 2-0 victory. It was followed by a trip to Brighton that saw them return with all three points.

Leicester must know what to expect when they travel to Stamford Bridge: they won’t see the ball too often. Maurizio Sarri’s system depends on steady buildup and smooth passing. It’s why the Blues are second behind Manchester City in terms of passes completed, with 11,718 passes, and why five Chelsea players are among the Premier League’s top 10 passers so far. Read More

Brighton vs Chelsea

Brighton vs Chelsea Preview: Just another ordinary match?

Brighton will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Burnley when they host Chelsea at the Amex on Sunday. The Blues drew in Hungary against Vidi FC on Thursday, but Maurizio Sarri is seeking to consolidate their place in the top four.

Chelsea won 4-0 at Brighton last season, when Eden Hazard produced a sparkling individual performance. Looking forward, everything leads to an easy win for the Blues once again. The Seagulls are looking for their first victory over Chelsea in any competition since January 1933, when they won 2-1 in an FA Cup third-round tie.

The last match at home for Hughton’s boys was a possession nightmare. Against Crystal Palace, Brighton had 21% of the ball possession with only 5.7% in the attack field. Clearly they don’t like to build-up chances from ball possession, and that will be strongly marked against Chelsea, a team crazy about retaining possession. Read More

Manchester City vs Brighton

Manchester City vs Brighton: How well has Bernardo replaced De Bruyne?

Six weeks in to the Premier League and Manchester City keep chugging along nicely. After the disappointing loss to Lyon in the Champions League, City responded in fine style against Cardiff and Oxford with eight goals scored in total and none conceded.

What’s perhaps been the most impressive element of City’s start to the season is that it comes without Kevin De Bruyne running the entire midfield. Last year, De Bruyne had the highest usage rate (the percentage of a team’s possessions in which a given player has the final action) of any City player by a wide margin, and he also rated as Twelve’s top attacker.

One of the key questions when he went down through injury was who would take on the offensive burden he carried last season. In order to measure that, below is a table showing each player’s usage rate so far this season compared with their record last season (for players with a minimum of 270 minutes in both campaigns): Read More

Brighton vs Tottenham Premier League Preview

Brighton vs Tottenham: Snuffing out or just stuttering?

Tottenham played their best football of the season for a 30-40 minute stretch on Tuesday night before extending their losses to three in a row (which has never been seen before under Mauricio Pochettino) because sometimes that is just how football is.

The underlying mental weakness which Spurs and Pochettino have worked so hard, for so long to banish from the conversation surrounding the club crept back in, as three points as of 85 minutes became none by full time.

The discourse digs in deeper now. Is Pochettino’s head already elsewhere? Are the players still willing to invest? Has the system been found out? Is the project reaching it’s conclusion?

We can’t mind read but we can point to more tactical explanations and solutions. They are three-fold: Read More

Liverpool vs Brighton Preview: Battle of big chance creators

Liverpool vs Brighton was the final league match of 2017/18 for these sides, and little has changed in the three months since. The Seagulls began this season with an away defeat at Watford, maintaining their record of being the worst team on the road in the Premier League since their promotion. But they followed that with a win over Manchester United, to keep up their excellent home record. Only the big six and Everton were better than Brighton in front of their own fans last term.

As for Liverpool, they have beaten West Ham at home and Palace away, just as they did last season. They even scored the same number of goals as in those matches, but in 2018/19 they kept clean sheets rather than conceding one. As Brighton have scored just ten goals in their 20 away matches in the Premier League, is there any hope for them on Saturday evening? Read More

Brighton vs Manchester United preview

Brighton vs Manchester United Preview: Can Pereira become the new Carrick?

While Manchester City have already won one trophy and beat Arsenal in their first match of the new season, the black clouds are hovering over Old Trafford. The red part of Manchester has still not been reconciled with the lack of transfers as United remain weak in some positions that need to be strengthened.

In spite of that, Jose Mourinho’s men delivered a 2-1 win against Leicester City in front of their own fans. It wasn’t a performance to remember, but three points with some positives meant fans could be proud in these days of negativity around the most crowned club in England.

Toby is not needed when you have Bailly-Lindelof pairing

It is obvious from the last season that the Manchester United back four requires changes. José Mourinho didn’t get what he wanted this summer and that was a new world-class central defender. Harry Maguire, Diego Godin, Yerry Mina and Toby Alderweireld were all very close to signing for United according to press speculation, but the first game of the season proved that the Portuguese boss has maybe found the perfect combination.

The young Swede has grown a lot in his first year at the club and seems ready to push on. Lindelof made a team-high nine clearances and was incredibly composed in defence and attack with some fantastic balls forward. That put him as the best United defender against Leicester as per Twelve’s algorithm. Just in front was Eric Bailly who walled the Foxes with his tackling, blocking and well-timed interceptions.

Return of the Shaw

Another big reason for United fans to be optimistic this season is the return of Luke Shaw. He provided a really good performance last weekend, and made it into Twelve’s team of the week. Apart from scoring a goal to double the lead, Shaw constantly bombed up the left flank and recovered well. Most people already dismissed the 23-year-old because of his not-so-good pre-season performances, and because a lack of options in his position was a big cause of frustration.

Mourinho wanted to replace Shaw with Alex Sandro this summer, but we never saw that deal happening, so the England international has got a new chance to shine. He made a couple of mistakes defensively but also had the most touches of the ball (99) which is something on which he can build his form.

Did Andreas Pereira show he can be Carrick’s heir?

Against Leicester, United set up in a 4-3-3 variation with Andreas Pereira as the single pivot with Fred and Pogba in front of him. It was the 22-year-old Belgian’s first Premier League start for the Red Devils. It seems the talented midfielder finally persuaded Mourinho that he’s capable of playing at the highest level.

Of course, Pereira only started because Nemanja Matic is injured, but José still entrusted him in an important role. Pereira, who is a more creative player than the defensively-minded Serbian, was primarily tasked to begin attacks from deeper positions.

He was very comfortable in possession, especially in situations where he needed to avoid the opposition press with his quick and vertical passes.

Twelve’s algorithm rewarded his performance against Leicester as the third best when looking overall, but what’s worth mentioning is that Pereira scored the most defence points (904), leaving Bailly and Pogba behind by almost 200 points.

Also, with Pereira’s deep and static positioning, Fred and Pogba were able to push forward more, allowing the latter to be at his best when playing with more freedom deeper in the opposing half. Yes, Pogba showed us he can play in a deeper role as France lifted the World Cup, but with United he struggled and was often disputed last season when playing in double pivot in 4-2-3-1 variance.

Can Pereira fill Michael Carrick’s boots? It would be ridiculous to expect that in full, but a very promising future lies ahead of him.

What’s for United against Brighton & Hove Albion, and vice versa?

Among all the negativity and moaning, Mourinho was still man enough to praise a „monstrously” good performance by Paul Pogba. The World Cup winner will still be the key player for the Red Devils against Brighton this weekend. We will also expect Luke Shaw to build upon his excellent performance against Leicester. There is a lot in front of Alexis Sanchez who again didn’t show any magic but wasn’t either the worst player in the team. It could just be that Mourinho’s men need more time playing together.

The Seagulls, who finished 15th last year, were downed by a deadly Roberto Pereyra double last weekend. They lost 2-0 at Watford, in the first game of their second season in the top flight since earning promotion. It’s been a busy summer on the south coast, with 16 new players arriving and 18 players departing.

Among the arrivals, it could be Iranian winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh who can pose a threat to the Red Devils. The Iranian international was directly involved in more goals than any other player in the 2017/18 Eredivisie season. Jahanbakhsh netted 21 goals while adding 14 assists to his tally. At the World Cup he created danger on the right flank where Carlos Quieroz deployed him as a winger.

If he starts here it will be a big test for him, as United comfortably denied Leicester on that side. It could also be a double-edged sword because United mainly attacked through their left side and Shaw’s forward runs often left acres of space behind him.

It will be very interesting to see how Chris Hughton copes with the pressure from last week’s defeat and a lot of new faces in the dressing room. On the other hand, Manchester United will be eager to get their revenge for last May’s 1-0 defeat. It will all be decided on Sunday.

Prediction: Brighton & Hove Albion 1–3 Manchester United