Soccer

How Roberto De Zerbi’s free-scoring Brighton are blazing Premier League trail

Brighton continued their high-scoring run under Roberto De Zerbi, centre left (Nick Potts/PA)
Brighton continued their high-scoring run under Roberto De Zerbi, centre left (Nick Potts/PA) Brighton continued their high-scoring run under Roberto De Zerbi, centre left (Nick Potts/PA)

Brighton broke a Premier League record with Saturday’s 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest, their 17th consecutive game in which both teams have scored.

Here, the PA news agency looks at Roberto De Zerbi’s free-flowing side.

Goals galore

After beating Arsenal 3-0 in May, the Seagulls’ final four games of last season began the ongoing sequence.

They lost 4-1 to Newcastle, beat Southampton 3-1, drew 1-1 with champions Manchester City and closed out the season with a 2-1 loss to Aston Villa.

They opened the new campaign with 4-1 wins over Luton and Wolves before their next four games all finished 3-1 – defeat to West Ham followed by wins over Newcastle, Manchester United and Bournemouth.

Even during the six-match winless run that followed, they scored in each – losing 6-1 to Villa and 2-1 at City and drawing 2-2 with Liverpool and 1-1 against Fulham, Everton and Sheffield United.

That matched Everton’s previous record of 16 successive games between September 2012 and January 2013, and Evan Ferguson’s 26th-minute equaliser against Forest broke the record before Joao Pedro’s double secured three points.

Thirteen games is also the longest such run from the start of a season, comfortably beating the record of nine by Middlesbrough in 2000-01 and Leicester on their way to the 2015-16 title.

Roberto’s revolution

Roberto De Zerbi, left, celebrates victory over Nottingham Forest
Roberto De Zerbi, left, celebrates victory over Nottingham Forest Roberto De Zerbi, left, has established Brighton among the Premier League’s great entertainers (Nick Potts/PA)

Since De Zerbi succeeded Graham Potter last season, Brighton rank fourth in Premier League goals scored with 89.

They have  found the back of the net in 29 successive games since losing 1-0 to Fulham in February and 41 out of 45 since the Italian started as he meant to go on with a 3-3 draw against Liverpool.

Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have longer scoring runs in the Premier League era. The latter pair each have a longest run of 36 so should Brighton score in their next seven games up to January 2 against West Ham, only Arsenal would rank ahead of them with a record of 55.

With 71 conceded under De Zerbi, Albion rank joint fourth-highest in that time behind Bournemouth (80), Tottenham (73) and Forest (72). They are alongside Wolves, who have played two games fewer, and Everton.

Unsurprisingly, Brighton’s games are the highest-scoring in the Premier League since De Zerbi took over – 160 total goals is 10 clear of nearest challengers Spurs. His side rank seventh in points and sixth in goal difference.

Sharing the goals around

Solly March, second right, celebrates with team-mates including Evan Ferguson, second left, and Kaoru Mitoma, centre, after scoring against Liverpool last season
Solly March, second right, celebrates with team-mates including Evan Ferguson, second left, and Kaoru Mitoma, centre, after scoring against Liverpool last season De Zerbi’s Brighton have found goals from all quarters (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Brighton’s top-scorer under De Zerbi is Ferguson with just 12 goals.

That 13.5 per cent share is the lowest of any Premier League club’s top scorer in that time and demonstrates Brighton’s tendency to share the goals around.

They are one of only five teams with three players in double figures in the time since De Zerbi’s arrival, with Kaoru Mitoma and Solly March on 10 apiece.

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has 39 league goals in that time, backed up by 12 from Phil Foden and 11 for Julian Alvarez. Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (27) is joined by Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota, also on 12 and 11 respectively.

Newcastle have Callum Wilson on 23, Alexander Isak 15 and Miguel Almiron 12 while for Arsenal, Bukayo Saka has 17, Martin Odegaard 15 and Gabriel Martinelli 13.

Ten Seagulls have scored this season, with only Arsenal, Newcastle (13 each) and Manchester United (11) having more different scorers.