There have been plenty of points that have been dropped due to injuries and suspensions this season, and that story continued for Tottenham Hotspur against Brighton on Thursday. A combination of fatigue and second-choice options playing far too often resulted in a frustrating evening where nothing seemed to go right (...at least until the final minutes when it was too late).
On one hand, this sort of outing is to be expected with so many absences and really should not be all that surprising. On the other, it certainly makes January look even more daunting with Heung-Min Son and Pape Matar Sarr the latest regulars set to step out of the lineup for at least a few matches.
Spurs have one more fixture to go before then with Bournemouth coming up to North London on New Year’s Eve. The Cherries are actually sitting mid-table thanks to a torrid month and a half, which is much different from when Tottenham won 0-2 on the south coast in August behind a smooth run from James Maddison and another great passage finished by Dejan Kulusevski.
It has been a congested festive period as always, and while Ange Postecoglou is still significantly shorthanded, this is a match Spurs need to win. With more challenges coming soon, all points are valuable, and moving on from Thursday’s embarrassment is important too. Nothing ever comes easily, but this is one that needs to must end in three points.
Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 36pts) vs. Bournemouth (t-10th, 25pts)
Date: Sunday, December 31
Time: 9:00 am ET, 2:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London
TV: USA Network (USA)
The Cherries are 6-2-0 since mid-November, beating Newcastle and Manchester United and drawing against Villa. Bournemouth has scored multiple goals in all but one of these contests and bagged three in three of the past four, while allowing under a goal per match. This is a remarkable turnaround from the start of the season, which saw the squad in the relegation zone before this run of form.
Dominic Solanke has been fueling this charge up the table, with five goals in the past three matches to make it 12 on the year, good for second-best in the league. The Spurs backline was not up to the task against Brighton, and Solanke is a big threat on Sunday against the rag-tag bunch Postecoglou will again have to deploy with no Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven.
Lilywhite Spotlight: Mid-field
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was not the only issue on Thursday, but his inclusion in midfield was representative of the issues plaguing this squad. While Kulusevski has been solid as a No. 10, the current lineup is just not doing enough to handle a press and generate enough attack heading into the final third, and that all starts with the central midfield pairing.
As well as Bournemouth is playing, this is not the sort of outfit that should be able to neutralize Spurs. The Sarr and Kulusevski are talented enough to control the match and engage the front three, who hopefully were just off for a night on Thursday. However, another poor performance in the center of the park will cause real questions about the current XI’s ability to execute Postecoglou’s style.