After a run of poor form at the end of November, Spurs knew they had to get back into gear before the crowded holiday fixture season. They seem to be doing just that.
Tottenham beat Brighton 2-0 at Wembley on Wednesday, thanks to goals from Serge Aurier and Son Heung-min.
Son’s goal wasn’t surprising, as he can’t stop scoring at the moment. Aurier’s was, as it was surely one of the strangest goals of the season.
Spurs fans everywhere rejoiced when they saw the lineup. For the first time in 14 months, Erik Lamela started a match for Tottenham Hotspur. Dele Alli was rested in favor of Lamela, and Moussa Sissoko replaced Mousa Dembele in midfield. The fullbacks were also rotated, with Aurier and Danny Rose coming into the team.
The first half followed a familiar pattern. Tottenham came out and dominated possession as Brighton sat back deep in their own half. This, and the lack of atmosphere at Wembley, made for a boring affair at some points.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side managed 13 shots (4 on target) in the first frame. Harry Kane had a couple chances off a corner kick that were well blocked by a combination of Brighton defenders and keeper Mathew Ryan. Son Heung-min almost finished off another threatening corner a few minutes later, but his effort was just over the bar.
The chances were coming, but scoring the conventional way just wasn’t happening. It took a really weird goal to break the deadlock.
Serge Aurier beat Jose Izquierdo with his dribble, and Izquierdo responded by running back and fouling Aurier. But as the Colombian fouled Aurier, Serge sent a cross into the box. That cross’ path was altered a bit by the contact, and it ended up fooling Ryan and somehow finding its way into the top corner.
It was Aurier’s first goal since joining the club this summer from Paris Saint-Germain. Kane scored a similar goal against Everton earlier this season, and neither player can claim that they meant to shoot.
The lead was deserved, but at halftime Spurs were only ahead on an oddity.
Tottenham upped the pressure early in the second half. Lamela’s presence in the team made a notable difference when pressing the opposition at the back.
Brighton appeared to be waking up a bit as the game neared its final stage. Their best chance of the match came on 70 minutes, when Tomar Hemed turned quickly in the box only to shoot directly at Hugo Lloris.
Wembley rose to give Lamela a standing ovation just a few minutes later when he was replaced by Dele Alli. Dele looked fresh, and added a renewed enthusiasm to Spurs’ play.
Spurs had a few close chances, including Kane striking the post from a free-kick, but it didn’t seem like the second goal was coming. But then it did!
Sonny scored his 4th goal in 4 games when he struck at the near post after a delightful delivery from Christian Eriksen on a set-piece. Son got just enough of his head on the ball to send it off of Davy Pröpper and into Ryan’s net.
Once again it wasn’t pretty, but Tottenham did what matters by killing off the game.
The three points today means that Spurs are back in the Top 4, as they leapfrogged Burnley, Liverpool, and Arsenal in the Premier League table.
As the great Ice Cube once said, “Today was a good day.”