Brighton vs Wolves | Saturday 2nd January 2021, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Brighton are perhaps the league’s most unfortunate side according to the statistics, while Wolves are one of the divisions most clinical. These two meet at the Amex Stadium on Saturday night with aspirations of transforming their fortunes in front of goal.
Wolves are at their most threatening on the counter-attack, but their inability to create chances is a trend that has followed them throughout the campaign, despite finding themselves five points shy of fifth place.
It is clear that Wolves take their chances in key moments of matches and their Expected Goal (xG) output of 15.29 sees them ranked in 17th place, below the likes of rock bottom Sheffield United and struggling Crystal Palace.
Although Wolves could count themselves fortunate to be in the mix for the European spots, Brighton’s performances suggest they deserve far more than their tally portrays.
The Seagulls are in elite company with regards to the number of shots on target they’ve faced, with only two other sides facing less, while 50% of those shots have ended up in Matt Ryan’s net.
Brighton are vulnerable from set-pieces (corner, free kick and penalties) having conceded 12 of their 25 goals from dead-balls, whereas 40% of Wolves’ goals have arrived from set piece situations – 4 corners. Given this vulnerability from corners, Connor Coady to have 1+ shot on target (SkyBet) at 11/2 could be worth chancing your arm at.
I do worry for Brighton against this counter-attacking Wolves side and this one could be won on the counter-attack through the lively trio of Adama Traore, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence.
The hosts aim to control possession under the footballing philosophy of Graham Potter, whereby openings are foraged through patience in carving open opportunities. Wolves are comfortable in sitting behind the ball with the explosiveness they possess going forward and a clear pattern should develop in this contest.
The two sides on show aren’t known for their attacking returns and statistics suggest that the second half should see more action, with the slightest of margins deciding the contest. 60% of Wolves’ goals have come in the second half, while over half of Brighton’s goals have arrived in this period, including six goals from the 76th minute onwards.
With that in mind, I’m surprised you can get 6/5 (Sky Bet) on most goals in the second half. The quick turnaround of fixtures could take a toll on the quality of this contest and given both sides deficiencies in front of goal, this isn’t expected to be a lively billing for the neutrals.
Brighton’s Neal Maupay is their top scorer with five goals, to put this in perspective, second on the list is centre half Adam Webster with two goals. Although Maupay has struggled in front of goal in recent times, his high xG output and low conversion rate suggest he’s getting in the correct positions, but failing to dispatch his opportunities.
The French forward has registered 15 shots on target so far while developing an on-field understanding with fellow forward Danny Welbeck. Likewise, Wolves have creative wide players in the shape of Podence and Neto who like to take pop shots from range. Neto has hit the target 11 times this season and you wouldn’t back against him from increasing that number here.
The number of opportunities that Brighton create along with Wolves counter-attacking threat, could make for an interesting angle in the betting department. I like the look of the Shots On Target Specials with Paddy Power, with a clear inclination of where the game could be won or lost, Neal Maupay and Pedro Neto to have 1 or more shots on target each at 5/2.
Brighton vs Wolves – Connor Coady to have 1+ shot on target (11/2 SkyBet)
Brighton vs Wolves – Second-Half Highest Scoring (6/5 SkyBet)
Brighton vs Wolves – Neal Maupay and Pedro Neto to have 1 or more shots on target (5/2 Paddy Power)