Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Brighton's numerically inferior rest-defense leads to five Everton goals on the counter

May 9, 2023 — Brighton leak goals because they don’t commit enough players to their rest defense. Everton took advantage of this and scored five goals, all on the counter.

Figure 1.1 - Everton win the ball back and the ball is played to Calvert-Lewin.
Figure 1.2 - Dunk's stretches his leg to intercept the pass but misses.

Now Brighton are in panic mode. Lewis Dunk was their last defense, now they have to scramble back, which never ends well. Dunk’s out of the play because it’ll take too long to recover from stretching for the ball like that.

Figure 1.3 - Calvert-Lewin plays the ball behind Webster to Doucouré for the goal.

Doucouré was smart to hold his run and allow Webster to get ahead of him, opening the space behind Webster for the pass.

Brighton only kept two players in their rest defense, committing every other player forward. On occasions, even Webster joined the attack, which left them fully vulnerable if they lost the ball, which they did.

Figure 2.1 - Webster carries the ball forward into the right half-space.
Figure 2.2 - Webster turns over the ball and Everton pump the ball over Dunk's head.
Figure 2.3 - Brighton panic to get back and forget to mark Doucouré on the far side.

Classic super compact contraction towards the ball in the panic to get back.

Figure 2.4 - McNeil passes to Doucouré who is free, for the goal.
Figure 3.1 - Brighton turnover the ball, 2v1.
Figure 4.1 - Brighton turnover the ball, 3v2.

Brighton are always the numerical inferior team on the counter. You can’t make up for this basic flaw in their system with a qualitative superiority. Any Premier League team should be able to take advantage of this mismatch on the break.

My suggestion would be to switch to any formation that allows them to use a three-at-the-back when in possession, rather than the two-at-the-back they use right now.

One of the outside center-backs can venture forward, but they have to ensure that they have at least two players back to maintain a numerical advantage over the opposition’s forwards.

In matches where they have the qualitative superiority, as they did against Everton, they often become too comfortable and reckless in attack. For instance, Webster getting too far forward is unnecessary. Unnecessary risks for little to no gain.

This has become a pattern with Robert De Zerbi’s side in his first season with the club.

  • Draw against Leeds
  • Loss to Tottenham
  • Draw and then loss to Nottingham Forrest
  • Loss to Fulham
  • Loss and then drew to Leicester
  • Loss to Everton

These are struggling teams they are getting beat by. One bad result, you can give them a pass, but a trend like this needs to be investigated further.

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