Why Brighton's Neal Maupay and Danny Welbeck are the way forward at Fulham

During the opening exchanges of Brighton & Hove Albion’s defeat to Leicester City, the attacking combination used by Graham Potter may show him the way forward for crucial fixtures against Sheffield United and Fulham.

Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay can be an attacking threat for Albion
Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay can be an attacking threat for Albion

Once again, the Seagulls were made to rue missed opportunities as the Foxes were ruthless in front of goal before half-time.

The match was put beyond Brighton’s reach before the interval as James Maddison struck two well-taken efforts either side of a trademark Jamie Vardy finish.

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Football is played within fine margins and had Danny Welbeck netted when the match was still at 0-0 the outcome could have potentially been completely different.

Despite his side’s inability to put the ball past Kasper Schmeichel, Potter will take some encouragement from the patterns of play that created the chances from his forward line.

Neal Maupay operated in the number 10 role behind the England international, with Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Solly March deployed as wide attacking midfielders.

Welbeck’s opening chance came from a neat through ball by the Iranian forward following a slick passing move up the pitch.

Potter will have to lean on the quality and experience of both strikers if Brighton are to drag themselves away from a relegation battle.

Welbeck and Maupay have both netted for the club this season, which shows they can share the workload of scoring goals.

Welbeck scored his first goal in Seagulls colours in the 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, when he latched onto a perfectly weighted through-ball and slotted past Emiliano Martinez.

When examining the stats, the former Manchester United and Arsenal striker is currently performing slightly lower than his xG average.

So far this season, Welbeck has averaged 2.1 shots-per-game with an xG total from those chances at 1.48. From this average, it shows that Brighton's problem may not be from the strikers themselves, but from chance creation.

Much like his fellow attacker, Maupay is also performing lower than his xG averages throughout the current campaign.

The Frenchmen has scored four times this season while averaging 2.96 shots per 90 minutes. From these efforts, he has an average xG of 6.4 goals which is 1.4 goals more than his current tally.

This may indicate that both Welbeck and Maupay have been wasteful with their chances so far this season, but it also indicates that they’re finding themselves in good positions for Potter’s side, and sooner rather than later, the goals will eventually come.

Welbeck’s history with injuries is no secret, and such injuries hampered his time with Watford last season as the Hornets were relegated to the Championship.

With Maupay’s work rate and ability on the ball, the strikers complement each other as the task to press the opposition is taken off the shoulders of Welbeck.

Ahead of two season-defining matches for Brighton, Adam Lallana’s return from injury will be a welcome addition for Potter.

The Seagulls have undoubtedly missed the creative spark the former Liverpool midfielder brings to the side.

Lallana operates best in the position Maupay occupied against the Foxes, and with his declining pace, Potter may not want him to play down either wing.

Overall it’s a nice selection headache for Potter who is also expected to welcome Tariq Lamptey back into the team at Fulham.

It’s no secret that Brighton’s performances so far this season have exceeded their points tally. On the averages accumulated by expected goals, chances and goals conceded the Seagull’s expected points so far this season are 19.

This tally would see them inside the top 10 and level with Manchester City.

This provides some comfort to Brighton fans and Potter as it shows their performances merit more than they have, and with key players expected back into the side, Brighton will hope they can start looking up the table rather than over their shoulder.