It’s not been a bad start at all to life in the Premier League for Brighton and Hove Albion.
They Seagulls are sitting in 14th in the table, after all, a position they would be more than happy with at the end of the season.
Undoubtedly there are still questions over their ability to score goals. They are concerns that the Seagulls manager Chris Hughton has too.
“We can’t rely on our No.9s to get us goals,” he said last month. “I can understand it (the negativity about the lack of striker signings) because we did try and it was a position we wanted to bring in and the supporters did as well.
“But once you get to the end of the window it is then the signal to work as hard as you can with the squad you have got.
“Would we have liked to bring one in? Yes. But we weren’t able to and we have to get the best out of the players we have.”
While they may be built on a solid defence, only four teams have scored fewer Premier League goals than Brighton’s five this season – Crystal Palace (none), Swansea City (three), Everton (four) and Bournemouth (four).
That quartet is comprised the bottom three and Everton, who sit in 16th. It’s dangerous company for Brighton to keep.
The three teams who went down last season were the three sides who scored the fewest goals, including Middlesbrough, who, like Brighton, were built on a strong defence, conceding only five more than Southampton, who finished in eighth.
And it’s not that Brighton have been particularly unlucky. They haven’t been creating chances you would expect them to score from.
If you look at their expected goals (xG) per game this season, not one of them sees them create enough chances to end up with an xG score of at least one (that is, they would have been expected to come out of the match with a goal).
It was slightly better in their 0-0 draw with ten-man Watford, at 0.95, but while the Seagulls won 3-1 against West Bromwich Albion in their fourth game of the season, they still registered an xG score of 0.4.
In short, they don’t ever look that much like scoring.
Not only that, they are having just 2.6 shots on target per game, with half of their 64 shots this season from outside the area.
They’re hardly testing the keeper and a lot of their shots are efforts from distance – that will contribute to their low xG – teams are less likely to score with long-distance efforts.
If you look at the Premier League table for xG, Brighton are at the bottom, with a total of 3.53 – 1.47 fewer than they’ve actually scored.
At the other end of the table, Manchester City have an xG of 19.21 and have scored 22 goals.
And if you look at expected points (xPTS), it’s also grim reading for Brighton too. They sit bottom of the table based on xPTS, with just 4.74.
Football is based on goals and actual points, but those numbers suggest Brighton’s 14th place at the moment is misleading and they should, in fact, be further down the table based on the chances they’ve created and conceded so far this season.
Who can help them find the back of the net?
If you look at Brighton’s attacking options, per 90 minutes, the player with the most shots is José Izquierdo with 2.81, even if he only has an xG total of 0.07 over the season – likely down to him only featuring in 99 minutes so far.
In terms of shots per 90, he’s followed by Anthony Knockaert (1.88) and Solly March (1.5).
Perhaps what’s most worrying though, is that there has been no single player whose xG is above one this season.
March leads the way with 0.73, but second-placed is Lewis Dunk, a defender, with 0.57.
Tomer Hemed, who has two goals, is in third with an xG of 0.56, while Pascal Groß, Brighton’s main source of success so far this season, with two goals and two assists, is fourth with 0.34.
They will need the rest of the team to step up, as they can’t rely on Groß forever.
If they don’t, it could be a long wait until January to get a forward who can score the goals the team is crying out for.
And if they don't get him, it will be a real surprise if Brighton aren't seriously involved in a relegation battle at the bottom of the Premier League.