In the Game week 2 of the Premier League, Newcastle United hosted Brighton & Hove Albion at St. James’ Park looking to start a league season with consecutive victories for the first time since 1997-98. Newcastle United comes into this fixture with an opening day 2-0 away win against West Ham whereas Brighton & Hove Albion struggled against Chelsea on an opening day. Newcastle doesn’t hold a remarkable opening home game record, they haven’t won their opening home game in any of their last six Premier League campaigns. Also, Brighton has only lost one of their last six league visits to St. James’ Park in the Premier League. Newcastle is without a win in all six of their previous Premier League meetings with Brighton (D4 L2), failing to score at all in five of those games.
Newcastle strengthens their side with the brilliant business following the signings of Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser, Jeff Hendrick, and Jamal Lewis, with three of these players having a direct impact on their win over West Ham. It was thought that they will give hard time to Brighton but the young and dynamic side of Graham Potter had some other plans. The tactics of getting pass quickly and pressing higher gave two early goals to the Seagulls. The tactical analysis here highlights how Brighton was able to breakout and punish Newcastle on the counter. It also covers the analysis of Tariq Lamptey and how Graham potter used him effectively.
Steve Bruce’s side reverted back to their strongest lineup that played on an opening day. Graham Potter retains 10 players that lined up against Chelsea with Aaron Connolly replacing Adam Lallana. Both teams fielded an entirely different team for their midweek Carabao Cup fixture and reverted to the strongest lineup for their Premier League fixture.
Brighton 3-2-4-1 & 3-4-2-1 attacking style
Brighton started the game attacking the opponent and pressing higher up the pitch. They looked for spaces and areas in the final third immediately on winning the ball to counter and break the Newcastle’s defence with pace and throwing large numbers forward. Brighton’s build-up started with either centre-back receiving the ball from the keeper who then spread the play to wide areas. Steven Alzate and Yves Bissouma played the pivot role to spread the play. They looked for runs from the forward players in the pocket space beyond Newcastle defenders. Such high pressing and off-ball movements from Brighton players gave them two early goals.
In advance attacking positions, you can see Tariq Lamptey and Solly March higher up the pitch with two centre-backs, Ben White and Adam webster taking wide positions. This allows Brighton to stretch the play and attack from flanks. Here, you can observe 3-2-4-1 formation from Brighton throwing a higher number of men up the pitch.
In this another example, Brighton is in their own half and it can be seen, Lamptey and March are dropping to fullback positions to support and take the play forward. Here, 3-4-2-1 formation can be observed. Lamptey and March provide that liberty to Brighton change formation and transform to 3-2-4-1 from 3-4-2-1 in the final third.
Brighton 5-2-3 defending
Brighton focused on counter-pressing to a major part of the game and back trio of centre-backs marking Newcastle attackers. Tariq Lamptey and Solly March falling back to support the defence line and hence, Brighton could defend in 5-2-3 shape. The pressing by Brighton help in putting pressure on Newcastle build-up play and they were forced to resort to long balls.
Two of Brighton’s players from the front three are counter-pressing during Newcastle buildup. Aaron Connoly is blocking the pivot, Issac Hayden. This forces Jonjo Shelvey, another pivot to go wide and collect the ball there. Two Brighton midfielders are guarding the center nullifying any attack from the center.
When Newcastle is up the pitch and in their attacking half, it can be observed that Lamptey and March falling deep to form a 5 at the back-formation.
Graham Potter’s side major attack was from the right flanks which saw speed and acceleration of Lamptey used to good effect.
Leandro Trossard run observed by Lamptey who provided an excellent through ball on the right flank to set Trossard for a cross inside the box which was beautifully finished by Neal Maupay. Again for the second goal, it was Lamptey who initiated the attack. Trossard was left free to run with no defender tracking him back or marking him.
In the example, it is evident that Brighton is using the pace of Lamptey to create chances from the right flank. Yves Bissouma releasing a long ball in an empty space ahead of Lamptey. Lamptey with his speed is first to reach the ball before Jamal Lewis, who tackles him and Lamptey wins a free kick in advance position.
This incident highlights Lamptey’s defensive traits. It was a quick counter-attack from Newcastle post defending a Brighton’s corner. Shelvey putting a perfect through ball to Calum Wilson but Lamptey again with his speed managed to chase, tackle and clear the ball away from Wilson.
The Magpies hardly managed to patiently build an attack in the first half. However, they did manage to create a play in the second half post some changes in the second half. That didn’t help them much and they struggled to create chances in the entire match except only one clear chance in the 63rd minute. In the build-up earlier in the first half, Shelvey dropped on the right side or in the center of the defence to support the play. He tried creating from direct long balls in the final third.
This shows Shelvey playing as a pivot in the buildup dropping to the right-back position and Javier Manquillo getting higher up the pitch.
In this example, Hayden goes to the right-back position who is playing as a second pivot. Newcastle was forced to try this with both centre-midfielder dropping to support the play. Brighton had tightened things at the center and so Newcastle was forced to change the shape.
Newcastle defensive errors causing the game
Newcastle’s defensive errors caused them to concede two early goals. Their defence wasn’t in good shape later too and was always vulnerable to quick counter-attacking from Brighton which caught them out off position many times. Let’s have a look at some Newcastle errors:
This shows a lot of defensive errors in the second minute. Saint-Maximin was easily beaten. The back four were in bad shape, nobody maintaining the offside line. Shelvey looked confused between the two players. Lamptey was quick to take advantage of this and enter into the penalty area which saw Saint-Maximin tackling him and rewarding a penalty kick. This caused Newcastle their first goal.
Another example of the bad shape of Newcastle’s backline. Brighton’s wide player on the left flank was played onside by the right-back. Also, there was enough space offered to Brighton in wide areas to create something.
This error could have caused them another goal. There was always a huge gap between Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis. There was hardly any player for Jamal Lewis to mark on the left flank and should have closed the gap to avoid any Brighton players capitalising from these areas.
Here, again Brighton taking advantage of out-off position Newcastle defenders to score their third goal. Everyone is charged on to Maupay with the ball, leaving Connolly free and unmarked. He has only one defender to beat who is again slow to close down, giving him enough time and room to finish at the far post.
It is evident from the tactical analysis that Graham Potter’s side convincingly beating Newcastle united, justifying a 3-0 scoreline. Steve Bruce’s side struggled to cope up with the pace, pressing, and counter-attacking of Brighton. Newcastle needs to improve its defensive strategies to stand against such attacks in the coming weeks from other English clubs. They can’t have the same plan against their next opponent Spurs, who are so good on counter-attacks. It is likely that Jose’s side will punish them if Bruce doesn’t have any plan-B. However, Brighton should focus on carrying the same attacking intent and style in their next fixture against Manchester United who looks distort in their defence.