SUNDAY 31ST JANUARY, 2021
BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Referee:- Peter Bankes
Assistants:- Neil Davies, James Mainwaring
Fourth official:- Simon Hooper
VAR:- David Coote
Assistant VAR:- Nick Hopton.
Brighton (3-5-2):- Sanchez; White, Dunk (Captain), Webster; Veltman (sub Burn, 72), Gross, Bissouma, Mac Allister, March; Maupay (sub Lallana, 79), Trossard (sub Connolly, 79)
Subs not used:- Walton; Alzate, Moder, Izquierdo; Tau, Zeqiri
Booked:- Maupay (foul on Ndombele), Burn (Dissent)
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Sanchez (sub Vinicius, 46), Alderweireld, Rodon; Sissoko, Ndombele (sub Lamela, 74), Hojbjerg, Davies; Bale (sub Lucas Moura, 61), Son, Bergwijn
Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Dier, Tanganga; Winks; Devine
Booked:- Alderweireld (foul on Mac Allister)
New coaching manual required. Maybe even a new coach
Brighton hadnít won a league game at home this season. Cynical Spurs fans jested that this would be their day. I hope they put money on that. The headline for my preview was ďBack to the scene of a previous disasterĒ. Our team, if one can call them by that name gave us another disastrous result and performance. The good news in these Covid times was that none of us had to waste time and money travelling to watch the absolute drivel that was served up by our team. I would go so far as to suggest a new coaching manual to include the following points:-
1. When one of your colleagues is in possession, move into a position to give him options to make a decent pass.
2. If you are going to pass, please do not choose the team-mate who is surrounded by three opponents and is almost bound to lose the ball.
3. If you must play out from the back, at least move forward quickly. Do not dawdle on the ball for long enough that the opposition has time to form up, and even perhaps tie their bootlaces while they wait for you to reach their half/ last third/ dare I suggest area?
4. Attacking throw-ins are just that. Thereís no offside, so you are allowed to go behind the defence. Try it sometime! I saw Jack Grealish do it this weekend
I could go on. The fact is we were not just made to look second best against a team looking over their shoulder. We were second best. We have now lost two consecutive away games against Brighton for the very first time. Okay, weíve only ever played them in 11 away games, but the point is made. Perhaps we even need a new coach. In support of that argument I offer the following:-
1. Playing a bottom four side, Jose chose to play a back three plus wing-backs. That was five defenders, plus a defensive midfielder in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Jose Mourinho playing six defenders? Sound familiar? Yes, but not against lowly opponents, surely.
2. Talking of wing-backs, Mourinho had Doherty on the bench, who does at least play in the right wing-back position. When at Wolves, he was even known to get round players when in attack. Sissoko couldnít manage that and rarely made a decent pass either. Another substitute, Tanganga might have been a better choice. Presumably Aurier was left at home as a matter of discipline after his reported tantrum at half-time on Thursday. Thatís fair enough.
3. That back three excluded Eric Dier, and I donít think any of them looked comfortable in their chosen positions. Of the three at least Toby Alderweireld showed courage and made a couple of vital interceptions or blocks.
4. Weíve all discovered that Tanguy Ndombeleís best position is supporting the front three, not playing alongside Hojbjerg. Thatís where Sissoko has proved to be most effective. Ndombele didnít figure in the early stages of the game. Sadly eventually he was replaced because he was taking some rough treatment.
5. We knew we would have to play without the injured Harry Kane, but Son is not a line-leader. Vinicius offered glimpses of what he can do when given the opportunity as he was for the second half when Jose abandoned the back three.
That previous disaster when we lost 3-0 began when Hugo dropped the ball and fell badly, injuring himself allowing Maupay to mop up. Tonightís match nearly opened with another early goal against us. Maupay on the right passed inside to Mac Allister who slipped the ball to Pascal gross. His shot was directed across the goal and hit the far post.
Spurs were getting forward but were consistently being caught offside, especially Gareth Bale, making only his second Premier League start of the season. Brightonís Argentinean Mac Allister (surely some Scottish descent there?) showed regularly, and Brighton also regularly got men into our box. Something we seemed unable to do at the other end. Mac Allister tried a shot from 25 yards out which passed over Llorisís goal. Spurs had shown nothing in the way of threat so far.
Brighton took a deserved lead in the 17th minute. It was a bit like taking candy from a baby as Mac Allister fed the ball forward to Gross towards the right of the area. Gross crossed and Trossard made a good finish inside Llorisís left post although Ben Davies almost got a defensive touch to the ball. Three minutes later, after a corner was half-cleared, that man Mac Allister (interesting the way his name is spelt) hit a right-footed shot just outside the post.
Ndombele was hobbling a little at this stage having clashed with Mac Allister in midfield. Ndombele had his foot trodden on here and also in the second half by Maupay, which led to Tanguy having to go off. Spursí first shot at goal came after 29 minutes. Tanguy had been fouled in his own half but the referee waved play-on as he released the ball forward and Bale sent it on to Son, who was towards the left. ďSonnyĒ advanced to the edge of the area and passed to Bergwijn, whose right foot shot was wide.
Brighton presented danger again when Trossard passed inside to Maupay who was closed down successfully. Veltman got forward down that flank (Brighton did seem to target that side a lot) passing inside to Mac Allister whose shot was solidly blocked by Sanchez at the expense of a corner. That was taken by Gross and headed goalward by Lewis Dunk. Bale headed this out for another corner, but the ball might have been going just wide. Bale was not to know. Mac Allister, Maupay and Solly March attacked from the left side for a change, but Marchís shot was successfully blocked.
It was six minutes into the second half before we had another shot at goal. Sissoko passed across to Son who hit a shot from outside the box which was on target, but that was blocked. Bale won a corner which he took from the right floating the ball beyond the back post where Vinicius headed down but goalkeeper Sanchez saved with his legs.
After a Brighton corner was cleared, Gross returned the ball from the right flank and Ben White hit a shot which Lloris saved. Bale was replaced by Lucas Moura with half an hour left to play. It didnít make any difference. Maupay and Mac Allister broke forward and Mac Allisterís shot was well blocked by Toby Alderweireld. Toby got the one Spurs booking of the night soon after for a foul on the Argentinean midfielder. Mac Allister received a ball from Trossard and his shot was deflected but still saved by Hugo, who incidentally was making his 350th Spurs appearance.
Brighton had another good chance when March crossed from the left and Maupay hit a glancing header which passed wide across the goalmouth. Ndombele was replaced by Lamela, who also did not make much difference to Spursí efforts, such as they were. Bergwijn passed to Son, whose right foot shot was easy for the keeper. The best save Sanchez had to make was from Vinicius again at the end of a move where Bergwijn, then Davies have Vinicius the opportunity to fire a left-footed shot. The keeper saved with his right hand.
Toby Alderweireld made the most vital of blocks from Connolly who had been set up by Grossís pass after three Brighton players attacked us on the break. Tobyís face was bloodied as a result of an earlier challenge too. At the other end, after a foul on Son, Lamela took a free kick from 25 yards which was easy for Sanchez. In added time we had another chance after Hojbjerg drove forward; Son and Vinicius combined before Lamela had a shot blocked. Thereafter Brighton closed out the game effectively and had their precious win. We had a second consecutive defeat and thereís a third one coming against Chelsea on Thursday. You heard it here first.
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