GRAHAM POTTER has revealed the part played by stats as he evaluates Albion’s progress.

The Seagulls are 15th as the Premier League takes what it is hoped will be a temporary break due to coronavirus.

They are two points clear of the relegation zone with some tough matches yet to play.

Maybe 15th place is about what was widely expected for a club in its third top-tier season and with one of the smallest budgets.

And 15th at the end of it all would be fine. It’s the thought of slipping three places which is the concern.

But there are numbers which suggest it is not where they should be for much of their football.

Whether you interpret that as a reason for encouragement or worry is up to you.

But there is statistical evidence that they are under-achieving.

Infogol.com, which makes extensive use of the “expected goals” or xG formula, has them as near certainties to stay up.

By their calculations, Albion should be 11th at the moment on expected goals, ahead of Arsenal, Tottenham and Crystal Palace, Infogol’s rankings also have Watford looking comfortable in mid-table and Norwich, currently bottom in the real world, just outside the bottom three.

The expected goals table has West Ham, Aston Villa and Newcastle occupying the relegation places as things stand – and Manchester City three points clear of Liverpool at the top.

Potter, pictured above, has referred to xG once in his many pre-match press conferences.

He was asked whether it crops up more often in conversations behind the scenes or in his thoughts on how his team are performing Albion’s head coach told The Argus: “As you can imagine in my job, there is lots of data and information.

“You don’t want to dismiss the most important, which is the wins, the three points.

“But, at the same time you also need to get a picture of how you are performing.

“You want to know whether it is likely that, if you carry on how you are doing, results will change if you are in a downward moment.

“Equally, if you are getting good results but maybe the underlying data suggests you are being a bit lucky and that might change.

“Of course, you have to take all the information.

“I could never sit here and say ‘Don’t worry guys, we haven’t got the points but we are great on attacking entries or expected goals against or for’ or whatever.

“But it is part of my job to gather the information as well.”

Infogol’s number crunchers have Albion’s chances of staying up at 68% if they can take six more points to move them on to 35 while 39 points would end any fears at all.

The same website decided to simulate the run-in 10,000 times, taking into account “the points already accrued by teams, the upcoming schedule of all sides and the underlying process and ratings we have for each team, using expected goals (xG)”.

Albion stayed up in 87.5% of their simulations.

Accompanying text read: “Infogol have been huge fans of Brighton all season long as, not only are they easy on the eye, the underlying numbers they have been posting have been impressive, and they are unfortunate to be in a relegation battle.”

Which is great. But, one suspects, does not take fully into account the unpredictably of football.

If the numbers are based on what we have seen already, is it not just predicting more of the same?

If we get up and running again, how will the presumably compressed schedule affect teams and players?

Can you be better off playing mid-table teams than sides in the bottom six?

That was certainly the case for Albion in 2009 when they fought their successful Great Escape.

The numbers suggest the Seagulls are getting plenty right.

Potter will not ignore them. But, if anything, such encouraging stats raise the stakes.

Albion should be doing better. And have the potential to put that into practice if or when they get the chance.