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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion FA Cup Preview: A deep breath after a busy January

A Fourth Round FA Cup tie will be the first action for the new squad.

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

A bunch of midfielders out, a couple new faces in, and Tottenham Hotspur found a way to make the January transfer window interesting on Deadline Day. While most of the outgoing players were not playing significant minutes, their departure still feels quite significant. Hopefully the arrival of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur will more than make up for any missed potential.

Spurs return from their two-week break with an FA Cup tie against ninth-place Brighton & Hove Albion. The sides have yet to meet this season because of an earlier postponement, but recent results between them have not always been cheery for Tottenham, although the home side has won the past five straight. Hopefully this will be a comfortable sixth.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Date: Saturday, February 5
Time: 3:00 pm ET, 8:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England

For those who have blocked the match from memory, a reminder that Spurs are in this round only after narrowly escaping embarrassment against League One Morecambe, not taking the lead until the 85th minute. Meanwhile, Brighton needed extra time to get by West Brom, also needing a late goal to tie.

The Seagulls are enjoying their greatest Premier League season since being promoted in 2017/18 and xG numbers suggest their mid-table spot is fairly accurate. However, they have just six league wins this season, with four of them coming in the first five matches. Since then it has been plenty of draws, with three of their league-leading 12 draws coming in the last three matchweeks.

Hard to know what to expect from either side after the international break and transfer window, especially since Spurs will likely deploy some depth pieces with a midweek Premier League contest coming on Wednesday and the two new signings not fit to start. With no other competitions to worry about, though, Antonio Conte could prioritize the FA Cup should he desire.

Three themes

  1. Tanguy Ndombele, Giovanni Lo Celso, and Dele Alli are gone, but there still are more central midfielders on the roster than starting spots available. Bentancur will likely occupy one place once he is up to speed, meaning cup ties might be the most action the reserve choices see. Whoever gets the nod Saturday could be on the outside looking in.
  2. Steven Bergwijn did not join the list of exits this month, which was somewhat surprising, at least before his Leicester heroics. He does not likely have a starting role, however, especially with Kulusevski coming aboard. This seems like a good chance to give him some playing time, which the club absolutely needs to do after deeming him too important to sell.
  3. With no more Conference League and no more League Cup, it makes sense for Spurs to at least give the FA Cup some attention. However, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United are all still in the competition, and none of them drew another Premier League squad, so there will me more hurdles should Tottenham advance.