Tottenham Hotspur had a chance to take advantage of the results of the weekend and move up the table. Instead, they put in an utterly awful performance as Brighton and Hove Albion took all three points Sunday evening by the final score of 1-0.
Jose Mourinho opted for a 3-4-3, putting Joe Rodon, Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez in the back line. Moussa Sissoko slotted in at right wingback with Serge Aurier dropped from the squad entirely. Gareth Bale started on the right wing and, perhaps a tad surprisingly, Steven Bergwijn was in between him and Heung-Min Son. That suggested that Bergwijn would play in a false nine role to feed the wings.
With all the questions regarding the Tottenham defense, it seemed appropriate that Spurs started with a defensive gaffe just three minutes in. Two rather awful attempts at tackling allowed Neil Maupay to feed Pascal Groß for a far post attempt. There was nothing Hugo Lloris could do but, thankfully, the shot went off the post.
Brighton controlled the match while Spurs seemed to struggle at stringing together passes. The Gulls were rewarded for the efforts as Groß fed Leandro Troussard, who one-timed a shot into the corner, giving Brighton a 1-0 lead.
The home side kept their pressure up, preventing Spurs from getting any semblance of an attack going until the half hour mark when Bergwijn fired the first shot of the match for Spurs. It wasn’t a bad one, going for the far low corner from 20 yards out, but it was wide of the mark. That would be the start and finish of Spurs’ offense push in the first half.
While Spurs had more possession, which I’m struggling to figure out how, Brighton were far and away the better side in the first half. There was nothing that looked like a coherent strategy to move the ball forward and there was more than one occasion where Spurs pushed into attacking third, only to pull back and restart, going all the way back to Lloris. Brighton kept their back line in tact, ensuring that neither Bale or Son could make a run behind them.
Mourinho made one change at the half, bringing on Carlos Vinicius for Davinson Sanchez, shifting the formation out of the back three to a 4-2-3-1. The change helped Spurs get forward more, earning a couple of half-chances including a Sonny shot that was blocked as it looked headed for the net.
Brighton answered with an attack of their own in the 56th minute. Groß got another effort that managed to squeeze through the mass of bodies. An odd deflection caused Hugo to almost miss the save, but a deflection took almost all the steam off the shot. It was enough to give Hugo time to stop and gather it.
Mourinho made his second change of the match in the 61st minute, bringing on Lucas Moura for the ineffective Bale. The move did little to change the attack immediately as Spurs showed no signs of unlocking the Brighton defense. The Gulls let Spurs keep possession, fully confident that nobody could break them down. In the 74th minute, Mourinho made the final change, bringing on Erik Lamela for a limping Tanguy Ndombele.
Spurs had a big chance to equalize almost immediately after the substitute as Vinicius held up a pass nicely, making a good turn to fire a shot for the corner. Robert Sanchez, who had very little to do in the match, made his first real save of the night to deny the striker.
Brighton went for the kill in the 85th minute as they broke three on two with Groß feeding Conolly after Hugo was dusted. Alderweireld managed to play it perfectly, making an incredible block to deny the second goal before standing up to scream at center official Peter Barkes with a bloodied mouth for not calling a foul earlier. There was little of note after that moment, outside of a long distance Lamela free kick that had little chance of coming off. Brighton saw out the rest of the match and send Tottenham home pointless.
Thoughts on the Match
- I haven’t watched a match that awful in quite some time. Spurs looked lost in the 3-4-3 in the first half while the second half wasn’t much better.
- I honestly can’t come up with a good thing to say other than Toby’s block in the last ten minutes of the match was great. Bale had one in the first half, too, which also accounts for his entire contribution to the team today.
- With Kane out, the attack was crap. I don’t even know if he makes a huge difference today but I’m sure the discourse leading up to the next match will be fun regarding that.
- Mourinho is going to find a scapegoat in this when he should be shouldering the blame. There’s nothing that looks like a coherent plan.
- That next match is against Chelsea on Thursday, by the way. It doesn’t get any easier from there, either.
- I’d say watch the tape before burning it but I don’t think that even matters anymore.