It took just one match for any potential shine to quickly fade from Cristian Stellini, as Tottenham Hotspur somehow looked even worse than it did at times under Antonio Conte this season, somehow failing to win despite being up a goal and up a man against lowly Everton. Perhaps this was obvious in retrospect, but in the moment it felt like a new level of frustration.
As a result, hope is all but gone across Spurs supporters. Champions League odds are rapidly falling, making many ready to skip to the end of the season. Upcoming matches against Newcastle, Manchester United, and Liverpool are quite frightening, and Saturday’s contest against Brighton & Hove Albion is not much more comforting.
Despite winning at the Amex this fall, this is always a tricky fixture for Tottenham; the teams have shared the points across the past three seasons. Brighton comes into the weekend four points behind the hosts but with two matches in hand. No one is taking this one lightly, and at this point a win would feel like a mild shock.
Tottenham Hotspur (5th, 50pts) vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (6th, 46pts)
Date: Saturday, April 8
Time: 10:00 am ET, 3:00 pm UK
Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, England
TV: Peacock Premium (USA)
Brighton is having a solid season, sitting fourth in goals scored and sixth in goals allowed. The advanced metrics agree and have the club fourth-best with 17.4 xGD, over double that of Spurs’ (7.7). Three wins and two draws over the past five matches have the Seagulls with a legitimate shot at the Europa League and they could end ahead of Tottenham in the table, especially with a win on Saturday.
As solid as the defense has been, it is scoring that has fueled Roberto De Zerbi’s squad this season, which is not what Spurs want to hear right now. To come out ahead, the home side will want to replicate the reverse fixture, which featured minimal opportunities on both ends of the pitch and strong attention to Brighton’s counters. Any more defensive lapses are likely to be punished.
- Oct 2022: 0-1 win, away (Kane)
Ironically, even with a whole host of players (ostensibly) ready to return from injury, Tottenham will actually be with one fewer player available this weekend after Lucas Moura’s brainless red card. Even though both managers have been stubborn with both rotations and substitutions, this is still a big limitation.
Stellini hinted that at least some slight tweaks could be coming, and it would be fitting for that to be the case against Brighton. October’s fixture was one of the few matches this season where Spurs actually tried out a 3-5-2, and while it was not an overly convincing change, it certainly did not fare any worse than the traditional setup.
A 3-5-2 is probably not the right call at this moment, but there is no reason to not look to introduce a little variety. This season is depressing enough already, but continuing to drop points thanks to the same old broken system is the absolute worst way to go. This will be a tough match, but Tottenham has the talent to win — it just needs to be deployed better.