Premier League Preview: Brighton v. Tottenham
- 6th-place Spurs visit 16th-place Brighton
- BHAFC winless since the opening day of the season
- Spurs fresh off a 7-2 embarrassment by Bayern
Saturday’s trip to England’s south coast to take on Brighton & Hove Albion (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) begins what feels like a real crossroads moment for Tottenham Hotspur — not only for the 2019-20 Premier League season, but also the tenure of manager Mauricio Pochettino. After conceding seven goals to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday, Tottenham have lost their foremost identity under Pochettino: that of a tough, strong defensive unit.
Toby Aldeweireld and Jan Vertonghen, unquestionably one of the world’s premier center back duos not so long ago, look to have aged five years over the summer, before taking into account that the former wanted to leave the club and the latter was benched for the first month of the season over a minor falling-out with Pochettino. Letting Kieran Trippier leave for Atletico Madrid in the summer, without replacing their starting right back, has proven a disastrous decision. Hugo Lloris’ propensity for mind-melting howlers hasn’t gone anywhere and in fact gains steam as he approaches his mid-30s.
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Spurs have just three wins from their first seven PL games. If not for similar early-season struggles from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United, the whispers of a full-on crisis would sound a lot more like a full-throated shout.
Perhaps Brighton’s recent scoring record — just two goals from their last six games — makes Graham Potter’s side the ideal tonic for what ails Spurs. After beating Watford 3-0 on opening day, the Seagulls have been hammered to the tune of 10-2 while drawing and losing three games each.
Brighton: OUT - Leandro Trossard (groin), Shane Duffy (calf), Bernardo (knee), Jose Izquierdo (knee); QUESTIONABLE - Davy Propper (hamstring)
Spurs: OUT - Giovani Lo Celso (groin), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring), Serge Aurier (suspension)
Brighton: Ryan - Webster, Dunk, Burn - Montoya, Gross, Stephens, Mooy, Alzate - Bissouma, Maupay
Spurs: Lloris - Sanchez, Aldeweireld, Vertonghen - Winks, Ndombele, Sissoko, Alli, Eriksen - Son, Kane
What they’re saying
Pascal Gross, on facing Spurs after the Bayern defeat: “This game has nothing to do with what will happen on Saturday. They were playing in the Champions League against a very good team, and it will be a completely different game against us compared to Bayern Munich. It can go one of two ways after a result like that. Your confidence may be low if you’ve been punished in such a way, or you may want the next game to come straight away and forget about the last one. It was a very bad night for them, but they will learn from it.”
Mauricio Pochettino, on whether is his players are still playing for him: “Yes, I really believe. I have no doubt the players always want to do their best to win. They play for themselves, their families, then the for the club and the coaching staff. I have no doubt, they have commitment, with four years or one in their contract, that is no doubt. The negative result like the other day was three days after beating Southampton with 10 men, it cannot change completely, the ideas or perception.”
Not a ton of scoring chances for either side, as Spurs will surely look to shore things up defensively and get back to the foundation that made them one of the PL’s best sides the last few seasons. Brighton will feel this one is there to be had, and they’ll get something from this game. It’s a 1-1 draw leaning ever so slightly toward the Seagulls.