Brighton's Alexis Mac Allister back to square one after Arsenal disappointment

Alexis Mac Allister must prove his worth over the winter period if he is to be considered in Graham Potter’s future plans.

Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister failed to impress against Arsenal
Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister failed to impress against Arsenal

The 22-year-old made only his second league start for Albion in last night’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, and had a particularly quiet night as Albion’s goal-scoring woes continued.

Admittedly it’s hard for any player to come in from the cold during the winter period and match a Gunners side buoyed by their 3-0 victory against Chelsea on Boxing Day.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Mac Allister lasted 67 minutes on the field but struggled to make an impression by completing only one key pass and one successful dribble during that time.

It’s no secret that the winter schedule has become something of a gruelling period for Premier League teams, as squads are stretched and tested to the limit.

The coronavirus pandemic has only created problems for teams at the top and bottom of the league during this period as more players and managers alike are having to serve periods of isolation.

The Premier League confirmed 18 positive tests of COVID-19 after their latest batch of mass testing, which is more than double that that of the last round of testing.

With no plans to suspend the 2020/21 season at the time of writing, managers will look to rotate and bring players in from the cold during the remaining winter fixtures.

Perhaps no player needs this time of the season more than Albion’s Argentine midfielder Mac Allister.

The midfielder found himself a victim of the pandemic when it was reported that he tested positive for COVID-19, which ruled him out of the victory against Aston Villa.

Contracting the virus came at the worse possible time for Mac Allister as he was starting to make an impression on the first team.

The 22-year-old joined the club in January 2019 but was immediately loaned back to Argentinos Juniors. In June of the same year, he was once again loaned back to Argentina, this time joining giants Boca Juniors.

After returning to the Sussex coast, he made his long-awaited debut for the club prior to the UK’s wide lockdown against Wolverhampton Wanderers in a 0-0 draw; coming on as an 80th-minute substitute.

Following the easing of lockdown restrictions, Mac Allister made his full Seagulls debut against Leicester in another stalemate at the beginning of ‘project restart’.

This season, however, his game time has been severely hampered by summer arrival Adam Lallana from Liverpool.

The England international operates in the same position as the 22-year-old and has often received the nod from Graham Potter.

As a result, Mac Allister has had to settle for appearances in cup competitions, where he has flourished.

Albeit against lower league opposition, the midfielder did impress in Carabao Cup victories against Portsmouth and Preston North End. He netted his first goal for the club in the 4-0 victory against Pompey and then scored at Deepdale as the club progressed into the fourth round where they were eliminated by Manchester United.

Mac Allister then scored his most important goal in Albion colours when firing in the equaliser in the 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

Since then, however, he has found minutes hard to come by for a variety of reasons.

The first being the previously mentioned reports of a positive COVID-19 test. When many expected him to kick-on for Albion, he was struck down by the illness that has taken so much from so many this year.

Despite inconsistent form this season, Potter does have a plethora of talent has disposal in a variety of positions this seasons; and no more so than in midfield.

Lallana, Solly March, Yves Bissouma, Steven Alzate, Pascal Gross and even Ben White have featured in midfield for the club throughout this season.

In recent weeks, Brighton have come somewhat unstuck in their desires to pick up victories. Prior to Arsenal they are unbeaten in their past three matches, they’ve also failed to win across those fixtures.

Three draws came against fellow relegation rivals Fulham and Sheffield United, while surrendering a lead twice against West Ham to draw 2-2 at the London Stadium.

It’s hard to gauge what type of player he could become at Albion due to his limited appearances, however, his form back in Argentina can give fans a slight interpretation.

During his time with Boca Juniors, he scored one goal and registered a singular assist across 13 appearances.

He averaged 1.2 key passes per match in his native country while playing 1.2 crosses per match.

Throughout recent weeks we’ve seen Albion adapt their play to suit striker Danny Welbeck, and these statistics could prove vital for the former Arsenal striker if Mac Allister can replicate this form for Brighton.

Opportunities are hard to come by in the Premier League, and when they eventually arrive they must be taken.

It’s not easy to dislodge a Champions League and Premier League winner in Lallana, but Mac Allister must turn flashes of skill into consistency if he is to stay on the south coast.

The jury remains out on whether he did enough against Arsenal to warrant an extended run in the team.