Brighton have struggled this season when playing keep ball

Brighton have struggled this season when their opponents let them play keep-ball, with the Everton defeat another example of such… good job it is Arsenal up next with Roberto De Zerbi promising fans will see the ‘true’ side of his team

  • Brighton have lost all five of their highest possessions games so far this season
  • The Everton defeat on Monday was another example of a frailty within the team
  • Arsenal up next – a team unlikely to sit back and let Brighton dominate the ball

With a croaky voice, having rollicked his players in a dressing-room lock-in after their 5-1 embarrassment by Everton, Roberto De Zerbi promised we will see the ‘true’ Brighton next time.

By that he means the Brighton who have swept sides away with their swashbuckling style this season. The Brighton who beat Manchester United twice and Chelsea twice in the Premier League. The Brighton who have been chasing a European spot.

According to De Zerbi, we did not see that team against Everton; we saw some pretenders.

Brighton managed their greatest possession of the season — 77.7 per cent — but Sean Dyche’s side scored five times from counter-attacks. They were disciplined. They sat deep. 

They defended and broke forward at speed once they won the ball in a tactical plan executed to perfection at the Amex Stadium.

Everton exposed Brighton’s glaring weakness with a highly efficient display of counter-attacking football

The Seagulls have struggled at times this season when their opponents have let them have the ball

A clearly furious Roberto De Zerbi insists his side will show their ‘true’ colours next time out

Yet Everton are not the first opponents to expose this vulnerability of Brighton’s. 

On the five occasions that De Zerbi’s side have kept their highest possessions in the Premier League this season, they are winless. 

It is a peculiar statistic which indicates that, for all their dominance in these particular games, they struggle when opponents let them play keep-ball.

When Brighton lost 2-1 to Tottenham — another team associated with counter-attacking football, whoever the manager — Harry Kane’s winner arrived three passes and eight seconds after Kaoru Mitoma lost the ball with a careless flick.

Everton’s opener on Monday was near enough identical.

Mitoma lost the ball after trying another flick forward and three passes and eight seconds later, the visitors had the lead. 

By the end of the game, after conceding five goals on the counter, Brighton’s achilles’ heel was laid bare and De Zerbi could not hide his frustration.

Brighton do not like facing these types of teams and so, in a strange way, it is welcome news that their next opponents are title-chasing Arsenal, who will not focus on a defence-first strategy.

Arsenal await next – not a team likely to sit back and let Brighton come onto them with the ball

Mikel Arteta’s side need three points on Sunday if they are to remain in the title race

Brighton’s goal against Manchester United may have come from the spot but they dominated the Red Devils

They will take the game to Brighton and press high up the pitch, just like Manchester United did when they lost 1-0 at the Amex last week.

That did not go well for United. Antony and Co were chasing shadows as the hosts, calmly and coolly, passed out from the back. Though it took a 99th-minute penalty, scored by Alexis Mac Allister, Erik ten Hag’s team were totally outplayed on the night.

Arsenal need three points if they are to remain in the Premier League title race, playing after Manchester City on Sunday.

But Mikel Arteta’s side should also be warned that the visitors to the Emirates Stadium will relish their approach, with De Zerbi adamant we will see the true Brighton this time around.

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