Make it three in three for Tottenham Hotspur after grinding out a win over Everton on Saturday. There have been times this season where Spurs deserved better than the final result, but this was a little bit of the reverse. Either way, the club will take it and entered Christmas just four points off the top.
Now comes a trip to the Amex, where Tottenham has won each of its last two. Spurs did the double over Brighton & Hove Albion last season, and this year’s squad is stumbling a bit, perhaps due to a challenging Europa League group. The Seagulls did finish in first place, but also have just one win and five points over their past five league matches.
Brighton have infamously allowed a goal in every single match so far this season, which should be good for a Tottenham side that has been firing as of late. Last year’s fixtures ended just 2-1 and 0-1, but Thursday’s iteration might bring a little more scoring. It does not need to be pretty though, as any win in the festive stretch is good.
A victory would be the third different time this season that Ange Postecoglou’s side has won four league matches in a row. Each of those streaks ended at four exactly, but that is a problem for the weekend. It would be classic Spurs to hit a road bump here, but trust the Postecoglou.
Brighton & Hove Albion (9th, 27pts) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 36pts)
Date: Thursday, December 28
Time: 2:30 pm ET, 7:30 pm UK
Location: Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove
TV: USA Network (USA), Amazon Prime Video (UK)
Brighton owns a +3 goal difference so far, which is on par with a 2.8 xGD but does feature more goals on both ends than expected. Evan Ferguson has already matched last year’s six goals to lead the team, though he has not scored in a month. Kauro Mitoma is the latest Seagull to be injured, and fortunately there is not anyone that will be causing alarms to blare.
One component to the defensive issues has been keeper Bart Verbruggen. While his shot-stopping figures have not been terrible, there have been avoidable mistakes that seem to keep costing Brighton, as was the case against Palace last weekend when Verbruggen made a poor clearance. Spurs have been good at punishing sloppiness with the press, and there might be an opportunity in this one.
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The departure of Cristian Romero drastically changed the complexion of the match, with Spurs looking much shakier in defense. Even with the return of Destiny Udogie from suspension, there are still a bunch of substitutions needed in the Tottenham defense, and Brighton is a strong enough team to cause some uncomfortable pressure.
Postecoglou knew this would be a tricky season in general, but the injuries and suspensions (and incoming international competitions) have made the situation even more cumbersome. Nevertheless, the Spurs depth has held up for the most part and will be asked to do so again on Thursday. These three points could be a big deal later this spring if whatever XI can just grind it out.