In the 2020/21 campaign, Brighton & Hove Albion have been a resurgent team. Even though their return of just three points from four matches doesn’t make their start to the season seem like a success, their performances were undoubtedly very encouraging. The lack of points on the board can be explained by the fact that they have faced Chelsea, a new-look Everton and Manchester United – three opponents who are expected to beat the Seagulls.
One of their star players has been Tariq Lamptey, the 20-year-old Englishman who left Chelsea to join the club in the winter transfer window. He has started each of Brighton’s four Premier League matches and looks set to make the right wing-back spot his own.
Partnership with Leandro Trossard
Brighton have lined up in a 3-4-3 on paper throughout the season, but in practice, it’s more of a 3-4-2-1, as Leandro Trossard, the right-winger, likes to drift inside and operate behind the other two attackers. Besides giving Trossard positional freedom, this movement also opens up space for Lamptey on the right-hand side, as you can see below.
You can evidently see that tactic in action above, as Trossard has drifted inside, dragging the Newcastle full-back with him. This creates space on the right flank for Lamptey, who can exploit it by running in-behind.
Lamptey and Trossard have already combined this season, as the full-back assisted the Belgian international’s goal against Chelsea.
In this case, it was Lamptey who created the space. The young Englishman’s movements into the box engaged Chelsea’s left-back, which meant that Trossard, who had stayed back, had absolute acres of space around him. Lamptey found him with a simple pass, and the forward did the rest (with some kindness from Kepa).
This partnership with Trossard has been key for Lamptey’s attacking output as it has helped open up space for him, as you will continue to see below.
Acceleration and dribbling
One of Lamptey’s biggest strengths is his sheer pace and ball control, which is what helps him get into favourable forward positions.
His pace and quick acceleration were evident against Manchester United. In the instance above, you can see how Lamptey is behind two opponents when his teammate is trying to play the ball into space ahead of him.
Lamptey uses his pace to get in front of both of his opponents, touching the ball first before being brought down.
The 20-year-old full-back is quite a tricky dribbler too, as is proven by the fact that he has averaged 4.25 dribbles per match and drawn three fouls in the same duration so far this season. He has already won two penalties for his side, and we will take a look at both of them below.
First of all, note Trossard’s inward position, which has opened up space on the right of the six-yard box. Lamptey is attacking precisely that, inviting a through ball from his teammate.
By virtue of his greater acceleration, Lamptey comfortably reached the ball first and was in a good position to deliver a teasing ball across the box. However, he was shoved in the back, and Brighton had a penalty.
Newcastle United were his next victims.
Yet again, it all starts with Trossard tucking infield and opening up space for Lamptey. The full-back looks to carry the ball into the wide crossing position, however, his man has already started moving to cover it.
Unsurprisingly, Lamptey doesn’t get there in front, but what he can do is quickly turn away and start driving infield.
At 5′ 5″, Lamptey is among the shorter players in the Premier League but, he is able to use his height (or rather lack of it) to his advantage. His lower centre of gravity helps him in twisting and turning past defenders, and the youngster is quicker than most when it comes to changing direction, while his shorter stride allows him to take more touches of the ball.
That’s exactly what he did here, as he quickly cut back to the outside and started to move into the penalty area.
Lamptey easily got there first, and the only thing that his man could do to prevent him from crossing was to hack him down.
With such quick feet and rapid changes in direction, Lamptey is quite hard to defend against.
Getting into good positions is one thing for a wing-back (which Lamptey clearly does, having made 15 progressive runs in 2020/21 already), but it counts for nothing unless the player is able to deliver quality balls into the box. Lamptey has certainly done that so far this season, averaging 2.25 crosses per match in this season’s Premier League.
Above is an example of one of Lamptey’s low, drilled balls into the box, which was aimed for the striker making a run towards the six-yard box.
The full-back’s delivery was almost spot-on, but a Newcastle defender made an outstanding intervention, which was prevented from finding the back of the net by the goalkeeper.
The Englishman is not bad at delivering more traditional crosses too. In this instance, Lamptey sees that the centre of the box is quite crowded with Everton players. However, there is a free man at the far post who Lamptey looks to find. He does so by delivering a perfect ball over all of the Everton defenders, but it was not put away as his teammate failed to get any proper contact.
Although Lamptey doesn’t have an assist from a cross to his name, it’s not because of his deliveries, but rather a lack of finishing from his teammates.
Brighton’s openness against counter-attacks
While Lamptey’s attack-mindedness gives his side a lot of joy going forward, it does leave them a bit exposed at the back in transition, as Manchester United found out.
Above, Lamptey attempts to deliver a ball into the box from this wide position. However, it gets cleared away from the danger area.
So, when the ball reaches Bruno Fernandes, Lamptey is on the wrong side of him, and can’t stop the counter-attack from developing.
Because the wing-back was so far forward, there is an acre of space on the right side of Brighton’s defence. Fernandes exploited this by playing a through ball into that area, and Marcus Rashford’s individual brilliance did the rest.
Because Lamptey isn’t where he’d want to be, Ben White has to go wide, meet Rashford and try and defend the outside. This allows the Manchester United forward to cut inside and get into a shooting position, which is enough for him to score.
While Lamptey is extremely effective for Brighton in way of attack, opposing teams can make the most of his attack-mindedness by exploiting the open spaces on his flank. This weakness hasn’t fully been exploited yet since Chelsea & Everton dominated possession in their respective matches while Newcastle were simply not good enough on the day. However, it’s something that opposing teams should be looking at when going up against Graham Potter’s men.
Despite certain defensive frailties that his side have to deal with because of his style of play, Lamptey is clearly showing his immense talent and quality in a strong-looking side at Brighton, who should be quite pleased about the fact that they snapped him up for a mere £3 million. In fact, the Sussex police should start looking at this transfer because it’s just a blatant robbery.
In all seriousness, however, Lamptey is certainly thriving with Brighton and has already started to attract high-profile attention from the likes of PSG and Bayern Munich. Regardless of the amount of time he spends on the South coast, he will surely give the Seagulls a lot of joy on the right flank. At the same time, Trossard’s importance should not be underestimated as well.