Tottenham Hotspur had been struggling to put matches away in recent weeks, and after dropping points late against Everton would have wanted to put things right at home. Their opponents, Brighton, had likewise been struggling for consistency, but had been boosted in recent weeks by the returns of Ansu Fati, Kaoru Mitoma, Pervis Estupinan, and Tariq Lamptey to their squad. This was a strong Brighton side, looking pretty different to the one that lost 4-0 to Luton just a couple of weeks ago.
Spurs had some returnees of their own: Heung-Min Son and Yves Bissouma made the squad for the first time following their departures due to international tournaments, and Ben Davies returned from injury to make the bench. It was potentially Tottenham’s largest available squad so far this season, and Ange Postecoglou made two changes following the draw against Everton, with Dejan Kulusevski and Pape Matar Sarr coming into the XI for Brennan Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Brighton started on the front foot, with an early chance for Danny Welbeck well saved by Guglielmo Vicario. Spurs were their own worst enemy, with the chance created following a poor giveaway from Mickey van der Ven, before the ex-England forward cut inside Bentancur to release the shot. It was a similar combination of players, in fact, that created the first goal of the match. Spurs’ young Dutch center back clumsily fouled Welbeck in the Tottenham penalty area, and the referee pointed to the spot. Pascal Gross duly dispatched the spot kick, sending Vicario the wrong way, and Brighton were good value for a one goal lead.
The match started to open up from there as the Seagulls relaxed their press. There was a huge chance for Richarlison, played through by James Maddison, but Jason Steele made himself big and blocked the shot as the Brazilian striker was forced to shoot from a tough angle. Maddison curled an effort of his own just wide, before Vicario was forced into another big save at the other end off Kaoru Mitoma. Spurs continued to press the offensive and started to look more in control, but were unable to find a breakthrough as the half finished 0-1 to Brighton.
A free kick in a promising position provided an early opportunity to equalize, but Maddison’s effort was tame and straight at Steele. Spurs though continued to build pressure, and it seemed only a matter of time before the levee would break - and break it did. A great ball through from Dejan Kulusevski found Pape Matar Sarr, streaking forward from deep into the Brighton box. He looked to unselfishly square the ball for Richarlison, but the pass deflected off a defender, on to the post, and back to Sarr. The Senegalese international only had a very tight angle to work with, but slotted home coolly with his left foot and sprinted away to celebrate with the fans.
Ange Postecoglou was clearly not satisfied with just a draw, and made a triple substitution: Johnson, Bissouma, and Son stepped onto the pitch to rapturous applause, with Timo Werner, Bentancur, and Kulusevski making way. The triple sub initially seemed to cause more harm than good, however, as the Lilywhites struggled for fluidity and Brighton played their way back into the match. There was one huge chance in particular for Ansu Fati, arriving to meet a cutback by Mitoma from close range, with the effort squeaking past the post.
More subs were made, with Davies on for Destiny Udogie (who picked up a knock), and goalscorer Sarr making way for Hojbjerg. Both sides continued to toil for an equalizer, and it seemed as if the points would be shared, until the new-look Spurs front three combined to put the home side into the lead. Richarlison led a quick break, before timing his layoff to Son on the left to perfection. Son drove towards the 18-yard box before hitting a low pass across the face of goal, where Johnson arrived to knock the ball home and lift the roof off the stadium. The late goal was enough to secure the points as Tottenham prevailed 2-1.
- WOOOOOOOOOOOOO (that’s a technical tactical term)
- Boy, my match report almost looked pretty different. That’s a great late win, and well-deserved.
- Brennan Johnson - man, what do you say? He was pretty damn awful for the majority of his substitute appearance, and then does THAT. That’s the thing with pace, it allows you to get into positions where others can’t, and it was a great run and finish to secure the win for Spurs. Is he the new Nacer Chadli?
- It’s been fantastic having Sarr back from AFCON. He provided so much energy in the number 8 role today, with great movement, passing, and shots. His goal was just reward for a really good performance, and it’s no coincidence that Spurs initially struggled when he came off the pitch.
- Richarlison’s shooting was just a little off today compared to recent weeks. He was taking just a split-second longer to get his shots away, and that often allowed Brighton to recover from dangerous positions. His all-round play was excellent, though - and he had a huge hand in the winning goal.
- That’s around the third match in a row (I think) where Tottenham have really struggled playing out of the back against a tactical press, creating chances for the opposition and unable to consistently move the play into the middle third and beyond. None of Vicario, van der Ven, or Udogie are great passers, but that’s normally offset by the #6 being able to draw in pressure and either lay the ball off to open teammates or dribble through the lines. I mentioned Bentancur looking a bit off the pace after the Brentford match; things haven’t improved much since then. The dude is struggling, and his inability to handle the press hurt Spurs early on. He did look much better as the match went on, but that also coincided with Brighton’s press dropping off. Hopefully it’s still just rustiness that he’s trying to shake.
- Vicario with more great saves today. He got a bit more protection on set pieces as well, which was nice.
- More positive play from Werner too - though there’s not been too much end product yet, his workrate and intelligence are faultless. Early on, he looked to cut inside Lamptey on a number of occasions - and then completely pulled his pants down when he blew past him on the outside. It was a clever piece of play, and from there, Lamptey was continually caught in two mids when trying to defend the German, who continually got into good spaces as a result.
- This win once more takes Spurs (potentially temporarily) into fourth spot. Hopefully this is the first step in building some momentum in a late push! COYS!!!