Why have Brighton stopped scoring?


Brighton’s media team could afford to relax this week, with no need for a goal of the month competition for April.

The only goal the Seagulls men’s team scored in the month just gone was Burnley goalkeeper Aro Muric’s comical own goal to get Brighton a late draw at Turf Moor. In isolation, it is an amusing scenario but look further back and it’s a concerning one for Roberto De Zerbi.

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Brighton’s only goal in April saw Burnley goalkeeper Arijanet Muric allowed a simple back pass to go through him and into the net for an own goal

The goals have dried up. In Brighton’s last eight Premier League games, they have scored just three goals – and two of them were own goals. Every single other Premier League team has at least eight in that period. Danny Welbeck is the only player to score for Brighton in their last 11 games in all competitions.

This is not the De Zerbi Brighton we have become accustomed to. During the opening part of the season they averaged nearly two goals a game.

Just two months ago, Brighton were a point off the European places and taking part in the Europa League knockout stages. De Zerbi was even being talked up as a potential successor to Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

Now the Seagulls lie firmly in the bottom half of the Premier League table – so much so that Everton, who were relegation candidates up until last weekend, would be level on points with them were it not for the Toffees’ two sets of points deductions.

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Injuries have plagued De Zerbi’s squad for most of the season, the Seagulls have been one of the most-affected teams by fitness setbacks this term. That, alongside De Zerbi’s desire to tinker, means the Italian has made 131 changes to his starting team this season. A rate of 3.85 changes per game is the highest on record in Premier League history.

Stability has been hard to come by in a unique season involving a first European campaign. Key players have sat on the sidelines for lengthy periods, including Solly March for most of this season, while Evan Ferguson, Pervis Estupinan and Jack Hinshelwood are out for the run-in.

The biggest loss, however, is Kaoru Mitoma, whose last appearance of the season came when Brighton were at their usual goalscoring selves. The Japanese winger was on top form for the Seagulls’ 5-0 win at Sheffield United in February, but a back injury sustained that week ended his campaign.

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Mitoma brings an unpredictability to the Seagulls attack through his dribbling and trickery. He is in the top five players in the league for one-on-one attacking, only bettered by players in ‘Big Six’ clubs – showing how priceless an asset he is for Brighton.

But the data shows that Mitoma’s injury has not just caused a decrease in goalscoring output, it’s a full-on nosedive in quality.

Those that remain in the Brighton attack have felt Mitoma’s absence. Ivorian winger Simon Adingra has stepped into his shoes and tries to replicate those attacking numbers, but lacks end product with no goal since the end of February.

It is a feeling shared amongst the rest of the Brighton squad. Since the start of March, their shooting conversion rate sits at 2.8 per cent, which is rock bottom of the Premier League.

Another damning area is creativity. Brighton have created just five big chances in their last eight games, you have to go to Luton with 16 to find the next-worst record in the league for that period.

That statistic is particularly surprising given Brighton have one of the most creative players in the Premier League in Pascal Gross, who sits joint-second in the assist charts this season.

But the recent absence of Billy Gilmour, who missed seven games before last Sunday’s 3-0 to Bournemouth, has also been sorely felt.

The Scot was a key playmaker for De Zerbi before his injury, with the midfielder involved in 60 sequences per 90 in the league this season. Only six Premier League players have been busier, stating how vital a cog Gilmour is in this system – and how much his absence harmed them.

As Brighton prepare to host Aston Villa this weekend, the two teams could not be more different in terms of recent form.


Sunday 5th May 1:00pm


Kick off 2:00pm


Unai Emery’s have the best conversion rate in the last two months of the season, with the in-form Ollie Watkins possessing both the goalscoring touch and creativity that Brighton lack.

It is not the only key difference. Villa, in going for the Champions League, are arguably at the level where Brighton thought they would progress to at the start of this season.

Watch Brighton vs Aston Villa live on Sky Sports’ Super Sunday this weekend from 1pm; kick-off at 2pm

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