Brighton & Hove Albion have gone through a bit of a transition since the end of the 2019-20 season. The Seagulls flirted with the relegation zone for most of their campaign, and although they finished in 15th place, it was enough to kick Tottenham alum Chris Hughton to the curb in favor of Graham Potter.
Potter has transformed Brighton’s play from the defend-and-pray tactics of Hughton to a more structured system that relies on possession and more progressive attacking than Seagulls fans have been used to for a while now. It’s a gamble, but it should at least provide football that’s easier on the eyes, if nothing more.
Under Potter, Brighton play with a 3-5-2 setup with Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard up top, along with a very narrow midfield that relies on width from a pair of attacking wing backs in Solly March and Tariq Lamptey. It has allowed Brighton to be able to stay relatively stable defensively, but still be able to create chances going forward — Brighton are currently 16th in the league, but seventh in cumulative xG.
Of that latter pair, it’s Lamptey who has gotten the lion’s share of the attention, and for good reason — he’s a speedy and dynamic wingback who, although he has good delivery from wide positions, has quickly earned a good number of admirers for his ability to take on defenders off the dribble. He’s a threat against static, less mobile defenders because he has the tools to either get behind them with pace, or play 1-2 passes with Brighton’s attacking midfielders to open up space behind the back line. March isn’t quite as dynamic, but can also put in a pretty decent cross from the left when asked.
It means that a club like Tottenham Hotspur, which has shown to be a touch creaky at the back, especially at the fullback positions, cannot afford to take Brighton lightly. Brighton don’t score a ton of goals — they have only scored eight, as many as Son Heung-Min alone — but Maupay and Trossard (or Aaron Connelly) have the ability to score if given chances. A back line discombobulated by Lamptey could easily result in an open look at goal for Maupay.
Defensively, Brighton are still a bit of a mess — they’ve allowed 12 goals this season, though you can argue that they have been extremely unlucky in that regard: their xGA is a quite decent 6.7. They brought in Joel Veltman from Ajax this summer to address the defense and Adam Lallana for the midfield, but neither have quite settled into the squad yet. Yves Bissouma, however, is a solid defensive midfielder and should add some spine to the center of the pitch.
Potter and Brighton may not set the league on fire this season. A mid-table finish would be an exceptionally good result. But Brighton have also had a pretty killer run of matches to start the season, with losses to Chelsea, United, and at Everton in their first four matches. They beat Newcastle at home and picked up draws at Crystal Palace and home to West Brom. They’re probably better than their current table position, and as Spurs learned in Belgium, well-coached teams have a way of surprising you.
How will Tottenham line up against Brighton?
Tottenham’s starting lineup against Royal Antwerp told us a lot about how Jose Mourinho might structure his team against Brighton. His post-match comments might have told us even more about not just who will play, but who won’t.
Let’s start with the defense — Eric Dier missed the Europa League match with a knock he picked up on international duty, but Mourinho hinted that he could be in line for a return. Davinson Sanchez has played in two consecutive matches, so he’s probably due for a rest, meaning Dier and Toby Alderweireld are the most likely at CB. Likewise, Serge Aurier and Sergio Reguilon have been on a “two matches on, one match off” schedule early on, so it would not surprise me to see both of them start — as they should, considering the wide threat of Lamptey and March.
If Aurier plays, that means Moussa Sissoko is also likely to as well to cover the space that Aurier leaves behind him. Pierre Hojbjerg is a lock in midfield, considering Harry Winks just went 90 in Belgium, and Tanguy Ndombele is most likely to slot in at the top of the midfield triangle (or the 10).
Up top, Kane and Son are obvious choices. Less obvious is the right side of the attacking band — considering Steven Bergwijn’s poor play on Thursday, the choices are down to Gareth Bale or Lucas Moura. As poor as he was as a sub, I’m going with Lucas.
This may not quite be Tottenham’s best lineup (please play Lo Celso and Ndombele together, I’m begging here) but it’s pretty close. Hopefully it’s enough to bounce back at home and defeat a Brighton side that has the ability to surprise.
That’s my predicted lineup for Tottenham Hotspur for their match against Brighton & Hove Albion. What’s yours?