Football Features

A partnership renewed: Five things learned from Brighton 2-2 Wolves

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 18:36, 8 December 2019

Brighton and Wolves played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the Amex this Sunday evening.

Both teams led at least once in a game packed with incidents. The visitors went in front but in the blink of an eye, the Seagulls would take control of the match.

However, they were unable to hold on for three crucial points as the spoils were shared, which leaves Wolves just outside the Champions League places, whilst Brighton sit comfortably in mid-table.

With the dust beginning to settle, here are five things we learned from this encounter…

1. Nearly broke the habit

Much like Manchester United before this week, Brighton found themselves a goal behind, only to pull off an incredible turnaround, though ultimately, they snatched a draw from the jaws of victory.

It becomes even more frustrating when you consider the South Coast side remain one of only three clubs, alongside Huddersfield Town (20 matches) and Barnsely (six matches), to never win a Premier League home game after conceding the first goal.

This was the 21st such instance and second occurrence this season (1-1 v West Ham and 0-2 v Southampton, both games taking place in August). Brighton’s record now stands at eight draws and 13 defeats after going behind at home in English football’s top division.

No team ever plays for their opponents to go in front, but such a scenario is sometimes unavoidable in football – to then pull off a comeback and win is a fillip. Brighton can feel unfortunate it has come this far then, but records don’t always stand. It just takes one special performance against adversity and that day might not be too far away.

2. Blink and you’ll miss it

For a manager there is nothing more satisfying than an immediate reaction after going behind. Graham Potter couldn’t have asked more from his side after Diogo Jota had put the visitors in front.

Neal Maupay, who scored the winner at the Emirates only a few days ago, would strike first when his first time shot bamboozled Rui Patricio. The Wolves ‘keeper had barely enough time to get his bearings as 96 seconds later Davy Pröpper headed the Seagulls ahead.

The action didn’t stop there. Aaron Mooy came agonisingly close to making it 3-1, all he could do was see his shot trickle past Patricio’s post. And that proved to be pivotal moment as on the stroke of half-time Jota levelled proceedings.

His goal, though, couldn’t have been possible if not for Pröpper – a hero just ten minutes prior. His lapse in concentration needlessly gave the ball to Jonny who slotted in his teammate.

3. It finally happened

Wolves were undoubtedly the “best of the rest” last season. A key factor was a seamless playing style which allowed the creation of partnerships across the pitch. One such combination, that took a while to get going but once it did they never looked back, was the one shared between Diego Jota and Raul Jiminez.

Both, across 37 matches, combined to score eight goals; with the bulk created by Jiménez (five). The first combination of this season would see the Mexican marksman tee up his Portuguse teammate. It took 15 matches to get it up and running, but for supporters it’s better late than never.

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4. Expected goals

Brighton meeting Wolves in the league hasn’t exactly been a goal-fest in recent years. Heading into this latest showdown, the third such to take place underneath the Premier League banner, had produced just one goal – Glenn Murray in October 2018 – so, despite recent form, you could hardly blame anyone for expecting another low scoring affair.

Fortunately, today’s game broke a recent trend, even stretching into their Championship meetings since 2015, as this fixture averaged just 0.83 goals per game. You had to go back to November 2012 for the last time both shared a combined four goals in a single game. That was an entertaining 3-3 affair with the likes of Bakary Sako and Craig Mackail-Smith on the scoresheet.

5. The run continues

Wolves’ poor start feels like a distant memory. Nuno Espírito Santo’s men were below par across their opening six Premier League outings. The added responsibility of playing in Europe might have been a factor,  mind. It was on matchday seven – a 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Watford – that began a mini renaissance.

They haven’t looked back since, four more victories (including at champions Manchester City) would follow. If we include their 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace before that Hornets success it’s now 11 consecutive matches unbeaten, their longest top-flight streak for 57 years, and currently it’s the league’s second best run after leaders Liverpool (33).