Brighton – West Brom was a classic “tale of two halves” Premier League clash at the Amex Stadium on Monday, with the hosts dominating — and scoring in — the first half before retreating and allowing the visitors to vigorously search for — and eventually find — an equalizer in the second half.
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Brighton and West Brom entered Monday in consecutive positions in the table, down near the relegation zone. The first half seemed to indicate that Brighton had no business being in 16th, while they looked every bit of a relegation battle in the final 45 minutes.
The same goes for West Brom, who were abysmal in the first half and look dead in the water before heeding Slaven Bilic’s fierce halftime team talk and springing to life. In the end, the Baggies would have been good value for all three points.
3 things we learned: Brighton – West Brom
1. Brighton better than early results indicate: From PST’s preview of Brighton – West Brom: Expected goals (xG) just about tell the story here: Brighton are sixth in the PL in terms of chances created.
West Brom sit 18th. Expected goals against (xGA) tell the whole entire story: West Brom are bottom of the PL. Brighton are the stingiest defensive side in the PL.
2. West Brom are who the table say they are: From the same preview: Expected goals (xG) just about tell the story here:
Brighton are sixth in the PL in terms of chances created. West Brom sit 18th. Expected goals against (xGA) tell the whole entire story: West Brom are bottom of the PL. Brighton are the stingiest defensive side in the PL.
3. All of that said, what was that second half, Brighton? Both can be true: Brighton took their foot off the gas at halftime, and West Brom were hugely improved in the second half. Graham Potter’s side possessed and attacked fluidly to start the game and looked every bit of a mid-table side. But, the second-half (non-)performance is the kind of thing that could see them remain firmly in the bottom half.
Neal Maupay hammered the ball into the back of the net in the 15th minute, but the Frenchman was a half-yard offside when Adam Lallana played it from right to left. The finish was quite difficult from waist-high and well-taken, though it wasn’t to count.
Nine minutes later, Maupay had an even better scoring chance — this time while onside — but he couldn’t slide it past the trailing leg of Sam Johnstone. Lallana broke into the penalty area with Maupay to his left. Lallana forced the lone defender to commit and slid the ball into Maupay’s path. The strike was clean and well-placed, but Johnstone made a fantastic kick-save.
Brighton’s persistent pressure finally paid off in the 40th minute, when any one of Lallana, Tariq Lamptey or Maupay could have put the ball in the back of the net, but Branislav Ivanovic and Jake Livermore combining for an unfortunate own goal will have sufficed.
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West Brom went close to equalizing in the 68th minute, but Mat Ryan made a full-stretch, diving save to deny Filip Krovinovic from well outside the penalty area and push the ball around the post.
The Baggies kept pushing, though, and again weren’t a million miles from pulling level in the 76th minute. Again, it was a long-range effort — this time from the boot of Matheus Pereira — that narrowly missed its target, though Ryan appeared to have it covered if required to do so.
Finally, after nearly 40 thoroughly impressive minutes, West Brom were rewarded. Karlan Grant got on the end of Callum Robinson’s cross near the penalty spot. He took a touch to control the ball and another to set up his shot, which he rifled just under the crossbar and beyond Ryan’s reach.