OPPONENTS Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 22nd September 2018
PREVIEW With Spurs not firing on all cylinders and Brighton coming back from two goals behind in their last two games, it wouldn't surprise me if that sort of result replicated itself on Saturday evening.

Spurs are stuttering badly at the moment and the brighter spark of their performance in Milan was extinguished by a late effort by Inter, who took the game from a set-piece.  Tottenham will need to exercise a greater concentration when faced with Brighotn's set-plays, as ex-White Hart Lane favourite Chris Hughton will have spotted that flaw in the team's make-up.  Players like Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy will be licking their lips if the lack of marking is evident again at the Amex.  That's on top of the reasonably prolific striker Glenn Murray, who is having a renaissance with the Seasgulls.  He is usually the focal point of the Brighton attack and with Israeli Toner Hamed on loan at QPR, he is joined by an array of cosmopolitan forwards.  Dutchman Jurgen Locadia, Iranian Jahanbaksh, Swede Viktor Gyokeres, Belgian Florin Andone and Irishman Aaron Connolly are all squad members with varying first team exposure, but Murray is the main man up top.  Aided and abetted by the pace of Jose Izquierdo and the guile of German Pascal Gross, the two create chances in different fashions for the strikers. 

Solly March is a hard working player, who possesses a bit of skill about him too, while Davy Propper is a Dutch international with a good work ethic and a nous for getting into the box.  Added to the engine room in midfield is Yves Bissouma, who Spurs were once linked with and the Malian is adapting well to the hurly burly of the Premier League.  Also among the midfielders are attacking Frenchman Anthony Knockaert, who lives up to his name as an aggressive, direct runner with the ball and Dale Stephens, who makes the dirty work his job as a defensive midfielder.  Beram Kayal came from Celtic and is a very good passer of the ball (along with Gross), but he is used off the bench mainly, perhaps viewed as a little lightweight for the top flight.

In goal, former Spurs trialist Mat Ryan has possession of the gloves and he has good reactions and is quick off his line, while back up keepers Jason Steele (formerly of Middlesbrough) and David Button (a Spurs development player) both have games under their belt at this level.  IN front of them, former captain Bruno has been out with an ankle injury, Dunk and Duffy are the central defensive pairing - both good in the air and Dunk has a well-timed tackle in him.  Martin Montoya has come in from Valencia and was raised at the Barcelona academy at La Masia, so will be comfortable on the ball, with Hughton liking his players to possess a degree of technical ability as well as good fitness.  Ezequiel Schelotto has been absent this season so far and his attacking intent often caught him out of position, but his opposite number on the left - Gaetan Bong - is a little more controlled in his forays forward.  Central defender Leon Balogun is a little known Nigerian, but he did play at the World Cup in the summer.

With Hughton having a good knowledge of the Tottenham Way, his side are fighting to pick up points and he might go for a full court press to try and hassle Spurs out of their stride, but his side will have to be fit enough to last the 90 minutes.  It may be more likely that he will pack the midfield and have Murray holding the ball up front for runners from midfield to break forward with him.  Either way, Tottenham's fragile confidence might see them struggle to come away form the Amex with any more than a point.

PREDICTION Brighton & Hove Albion    2        Tottenham Hotspur    2
Premier League Kick off 17:30
Brighton & Hove Albion  1 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  2 (1)

Knockaert  90+2m 51s



Kane  (p)  41m 10s
Lamela  75m 55s

Crowd :   30,531 Weather :  Wet, wet, wet
Referee :  Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Daniel Cook; Mrs. Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth Official :  Mike Dean  
Spurs kicked off and played towards the North Stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 5 minutes.
Kayal (foul on Rose )  59 
Bissouma  (foul on Rose)  74


Trippier  (foul on March)  49


Brighton & Hove Albion : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Mat RYAN

22  Martin MONTOYA
  5  Lewis DUNK (c)
6  Shane DUFFY
  2  Gaetan BONG

11  Anthony KNOCKAERT  
  6  Dale STEPHENS  (  7  Biram KAYAL  21     )
  Yves BISSOUMA       (  9  Jurgen LOCADIA  79)
24  Davu PROPPER
  Solly MARCH  (16  Alireza JAHANBAKHSH  73)

17  Glenn MURRAY

Unused subs: 
27  David BUTTON
14  Leon BALOGUN
10  Florin ANDONE


  22  Paulo GAZZANIGA

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
  3  Danny ROSE

15  Eric DIER
19  Mousa DEMBELE 

27  Lucas MOURA  (20  DELE Alli  78)
23  Christian ERIKSEN
  7  Heung-Min SON  (11  Erik LAMELA  68  )

10  Harry KANE (c) 

Unused subs: 
41  Alfie WHITEMAN

24  Serge AURIER
Davinson SANCHEZ
  8  Harry WINKS
12  Victor WANYAM

Manager :  Chris Hughton Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   American Express Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Having the majority of the play, Tottenham played better than recently, but made heavy weather of beating Brighton at the Amex Stadium, in the heavy weather and against a late, late fight-back by the home team.

Rainy East Sussex welcomed Spurs, featuring five changes from the midweek loss in Milan. The main one was the absence of Michel Vorm filled by Paulo Gazzaniga.  A first minute ball into the box won Spurs a corner, which was played short and blocked. It should have been played into the area to test the home defence, but corners are not our forte. The two missing players from Tuesday tried to link up, but Trippier just couldnít reach Tobyís diagonal pass.  When Kieran received the ball after Tottenham passed it across the pitch, he won another corner.  From this one they did better, with Alderweireld winning a near post header and Ryan was forced to a smart save. Palming the ball out, Jan was just beaten to the ball. Spurs maintained pressure on the Brighton back five, with Sonny driving a skidding shot across goal and missing by a yard.

When Brighton won a free-kick, the defence played a very high line and with Stephens holding Rose, so he couldnít track Dunk, the centre-half was left with a free shot, but it went sideways and went harmlessly across the pitch rather than at goal. Their next set-piece went too long and flew off for a goal-kick, but Spurs were making the best use of the slick surface with some quick passing, as Danny Rose squared for Son, but his shot was deflected wide. When Lucas got around the outside on the right, only a touch by Stephens stopped it reaching a green shirt.

While Brighton were working hard, Spurs were fining their passing groove and a Rose cross had to be put behind for another corner that came to nothing. Murray was the man furthest forward for the hosts, but he was isolated and many of their balls out of defence were not near him although conceding possession didnít seem to worry them, with ten men back behind the ball they were trying to squeeze the space Tottenham had to play in, but a good move ended with Son having a a
shot that went way wide.

Five minutes before half-time a good move ended when Kane moved towards the box to the right of the D and Bong stopped his progress unfairly. The free-kick was delayed while the referee sorted out some shoving and when Trippier took it, instead of hitting the net, it bounced off the wall and away. Chris Kavanagh, the referee, was standing next to Trippier and saw that Glenn Murray had thrown his arm up to stop the ball and pointed to the spot. It gave Kane the chance to step up and bury the ball to the keeperís right. Sending Ryan the wrong way and equalling Jermain Defoeís Spurs goal tally in the process.

The second half saw Brighton kick off and an early diagonal went over Roseís head, but Knockaertís cross failed to find a team-mate. The Seagulls had a free-kick when March took the ball off Trippier near his own corner flag and had to foul him. Vertonghen was on hand to head narrowly over his own bar as the ball was played in. The corner brought a lot of striped shirts in and around Gazzaniga, but he took the ball cleanly when the corner was played into the box.  When Spurs play the ball out from the back properly, it can be very effective. Working the ball up the right, it went across to Eriksen, who came inside to hit a shot but it flashed wide. Kane got away from Dunk on the right, but his low ball aimed into the goalmouth was blocked for a corner. Trips played it short, Lucasís ball in was blocked and Christian smashed it a long way over on the half turn.  Another break saw the ball swept from right to left and Rose came inside, but had to then jink
outside, where Montoya got a foot in to prevent him getting in on goal. Duffy was in there too and  decided to play on, limping heavily. Danny had to make an important interception, as Eriksen lost possession and it was quickly moved through the middle for Knockaert, but his loose touch let Rose get across to take the ball away from him. The corner was cleared to March, who fired in a fierce shot that took a deflection off Son and spun just over the bar. The next corner was punched out by Gazzaniga, but was returned high into the goalmouth and the Spurs keeper didnít get there as Duffy headed in with Jan unable to clear on the line. As he wheeled away to celebrate, it was cut short as the refereeís assistant flagged him offside.

Tottenham were pushing Rose forward and playing a high line, but were getting caught when Kayal was too strong for Trippier and set up Knockaert. He came inside from the left of the box, but on his right foot, he hit a weak shot along the ground at Gazzaniga.  Pochettino brought on Lamela to replace Son, then Brighton brought on Jahanbaksh for March. The  game was a not bogged down in midfield, with only a Dunk header over the bar to break it up.

When Spurs looked to be trapped in their own defensive third, Trippierís nutmeg on Kayal opened up Brighton and Lamela ran the ball forward and played it out left to Danny Rose. A low return pass saw Erik turn the ball past Ryan with a low left foot shot from near the penalty spot. It was a good move and the movement of the Spurs players was the difference between the last three games and this one.  It was also a composed finish from Lamela, who is fit and raring to go.

The opposition had battled back from 0-2 down in their last two games to get a point, so Spurs would need to kill the game off. Knockaert tried to kill Dier off with a kick in his chest, but Brighton were finding it hard to get the ball off Spurs, with their tactics with Locadia on being to pump stratospheric balls forward and Lamela spun away from Dunk, but his shot was straight at Ryan. The pressure the home team were putting on the ball had been let off and Spurs were passing the ball around to keep it away from their own goal and a neat inter-change of passing set up Kane for a fierce shot that Ryan got behind to block and grab at the second attempt.

Dele. Lamela and Eriksen played some neat close passing in the Brighton box, allowing Dele to slide a ball across goal, but a little too far ahead of Harry Kane to get to it at the far post. Ryan had to be alert to get behind another hard shot from Kane, as Jan broke out from the back and was neck and neck with Harry. Gazzaniga had been un-used for a while and was out of his box quickly to prevent Locadia getting onto a long ball. He didnít take any chances and hacked the ball high into the side stand. BY the time the game reached the 90-minute mark, it was mostly being played at walking pace.

Taking the ball off Brighton, Kane was suddenly away and hit a low shot that against Ryan kept out, this time with his feet. But a long ball away put Knockaert away on the right and he cut inside Rose to lash a shot past Gazzaniga to make it 2-1. The game should have been dead and buried with the chances we had, but Knockaert also had another go, coming in from the right again, to try and curl a shot, that took a deflection, allowing Gazzaniga to dive to get this body behind it.
It was a frantic end to the game, but Tottenham just about held out to earn a win that they needed for both their confidence and the fact that they had dominated this match for long periods. There was more of an assuredness in their passing and a willingness to close the other side down, moving off the player with the ball to give them a chance to move on to get the ball back.

Pochettino will be more pleased with the result, but maybe not the last few minutes, when instead of killing the game by not taking chances to make it 3-0, we let Brighton back in straight away. They might have got their comeback point had they been able to finish their last gasp last chance.

The result was what the team set out to get and they got it. In the future, it will show a 2-1 win and not how it was achieved or nearly lost. And the result is now history, as Spurs have to get past Watford in the League Cup and then Cardiff in the league.

Gary Sampson

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Burnley 4 Bournemouth 0 Saturday
Cardiff City 0 Manchester City 5 Saturday
Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
Fulham 1 Watford 1 Saturday
Leicester City 3 Huddersfield Town 1 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Southampton 0 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Saturday
West Ham United London 0 Chelsea 0 Sunday
Arsenal 2 Everton 0 Sunday


League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 6 6 0 0 14 2 18 +12
2 Manchester City 6 5 1 0 19 3 16 +16
3 Chelsea 6 5 1 0 14 4 16 +10
4 Watford 6 4 1 1 11 6 13 +5
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 6 4 0 2 12 7 12 +5
6 Arsenal 6 4 0 2 12 9 12 +3
7 Manchester United 6 3 1 2 9 9 10 0
8 Bournemouth 6 3 1 2 10 11 10 -1
9 Leicester City 6 3 0 3 13 12 9 +1
10 Wolverhampton Wanderers 6 2 3 1 6 6 9 0
11 Crystal Palace 7 2 2 3 4 6 7 -2
12 Everton 6 1 3 2 8 11 6 -3
13 Brighton & Hove Albion 6 1 2 3 8 11 5 -3
14 Southampton 5 1 2 2 6 6 5 0
15 Fulham 6 1 2 3 8 13 5 -5
16 Burnley 6 1 1 4 7 10 4 -3
17 West Ham United London 6 1 1 4 5 11 4 -6
18 Newcastle United 6 1 2 4 4 8 3 -4
19 Cardiff City 6 0 2 4 3 14 2 -11
20 Huddersfield Town 6 0 2 4 3 14 2 -11


Position before match :  7th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :  5th


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