After Tariq Lamptey’s dominant showing against old side Chelsea on the opening gameweek of the new Premier League season, there was a temptation to suggest that performance was due to his motivation to hurt his old side.
Indeed, given the wing-back had just been sold in January following the Blues’ inability to offer a pathway into the first-team picture at Stamford Bridge, it was a logical conclusion to reach. On that Monday night at the Amex Stadium, Lamptey gave former teammate Marcos Alonso a torrid time, so much so that supporters of the west London side criticised the board for letting him leave the club at the turn of the year.
Despite Frank Lampard’s men claiming a 3-1 win, Brighton were the better team on the night and even edged the xG 1.44 to 1.27. The Seagulls created more big chances than the London side, whose only clear-cut opportunity was Jorginho’s 23rd-minute penalty.
When it came to light that Chelsea not only let the talented wideman leave for a bargain fee but have no buy-back inserted, the opprobrium grew louder as his old teammates struggled to cope with the diminutive youngster’s searing and penetrative pace.
He provided the assist for Leandro Trossard’s 54th-minute equalizer — although that goal came about largely due to Kepa Arrizabalaga, who made a hash of a seemingly simple save to the naked eye — some reward for his fine display up to that point. The fact Brighton’s 19-year-old wide defender completed five of seven attempted dribbles — the highest on both sides — emphasised his effectiveness on the night.
Furthermore, the teenager’s underlying attacking stats were equally striking. He created six shot-creating actions over the 90 minutes, unsurprisingly the top ranked player on the night, and carried the ball the farthest distance towards goal more than all but two of his teammates and more than every Chelsea player except Alonso.
There’s a certain sense of purpose whenever the wonderkid gets on the ball. He creates panic within the defensive ranks of the opponent when he runs at them with so much incision. Some might argue that it’s easier to plan for thwarting an attacking strategy collectively as a team.
However, a direct runner coming right at you is nearly every defender’s nightmare, given it’s usually off-the-cuff and difficult to predict. Nevertheless, that’s what the young Lamptey is all about.
In Sunday’s 3-0 thrashing of Newcastle United away from home, the teenager was equally impressive as he was against Lampard’s troops. Admittedly, he didn’t complete a high volume of dribbles or carry the ball towards the Magpies’ goal as often as he did in gameweek one. Still, there was an inclination to drive into the defensive third of Steve Bruce’s side and it resulted in the visitors’ opening two goals.
For the first, Lamptey showed the spontaneity associated with players of his skill set to improvise when Allan Saint-Maximin stopped him from running out wide. Instead, the teenager cut infield and drove into the box, putting himself goal-side of the Newcastle winger, who clumsily brought down the Brighton wing-back inside the penalty area. The resulting spot-kick was tucked away Neal Maupay.
For the Seagulls’ second three minutes later, the Ghanaian youngster ran forwards with the ball from the half-way line before releasing Trossard at the right moment. He then found Maupay with a brilliant low cross for the away side’s second of the afternoon.
As far as goals and assists are concerned, neither strike will show Lamptey contributed in any way to Graham Porter’s side going two up. Be that as it may, the England youth international was involved in both strikes as the south coast outfit came away with a resounding 3-0 win.
This weekend presents another test for the rapid wideman, with Manchester United set to be the visitors on Saturday lunch-time at the Amex. Without question, Brighton are a side with their tails up while the Red Devils are somewhat ailing after last week’s 3-1 defeat by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
A striking theme from that encounter saw Wilfried Zaha and Jeffrey Schlupp constantly trouble the United backline with their speed and direct running for majority of the game, a tactic Porter could duplicate. Given the quickness of Lamptey, the Seagulls have a player capable of hurting a slow United backline that don’t particularly fare well against speedy attackers.
While Harry Maguire has improved the Manchester giants’ defence since last year’s move, the England international isn’t the quickest or the most agile centre-back, and Lamptey could potentially make it an uncomfortable afternoon for the United captain and left-back Luke Shaw.
Even though Brighton attacked mainly down their left flank against Newcastle, the likely return of Aaron Wan-Bissaka this weekend means the Seagulls may likely channel forward forays down their right wing, as they did vs Chelsea on matchday one.
If that’s the case, Lamptey will have a huge role to play in the hosts’ chances of success and another sparkling performance will enhance the wideman’s burgeoning reputation as a Premier League star in the making.