Three things we learned: Brighton beat lifeless Tottenham
Brighton - Tottenham: Life without Harry Kane got off to a miserable start for Jose Mourinho and Co., as Spurs squabbled and sauntered to a 1-0 defeat the 17th-place Seagulls at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.
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Leandro Trossard scored the game’s only goal early in the first half to give Graham Potter’s side its second win in three Premier League games, and its first home league victory of the season. The result sees Brighton go seven points clear of the relegation zone despite the fact they remain 17th in the PL table.
Tottenham, meanwhile, have just two wins from their last nine Premier League fixtures and remain stuck in 6th with a game in hand over 5th-place West Ham United.
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3 things we learned: Brighton - Tottenham
1. One-man team: For years, rival fans poked and prodded Tottenham for being a one-man team as Harry Kane quickly developed from an awkward fawn into a superstar striker under Mauricio Pochettino, but it was always far from the truth as the entire team pulled together in the same direction and had a clear idea how they could contribute to the team in a meaningful way. These days, though, under Mourinho, Tottenham proved to be a lifeless bunch without their talisman, managing all of eight shots (one in the first half and three in the opening 70 minute) and ridding the game of any joy to which Spurs fans might have still clung. Without Kane on the field, Mourinho couldn’t conjure up another way to quickly move the ball from back to front — the only way his teams are allowed to play — so instead he sat idly by as Brighton retreated into a low defensive block after the first few seconds of possession and Tottenham’s midfield lazily passed the ball sideways and backwards until they eventually gave it away and Brighton raced the other way.
2. Tide turning for Brighton: Perhaps no side was more unlucky during the first half of the season — to a point where even the most ardent Seagulls defender, PST’s own Nicholas Mendola, considered jumping ship on account of the age-old adage, “You are who the table says you are.” Alas, after nearly five months of results that simply didn’t live up to their performances (7th-best expected goals, xG, and 4th-best expected goals against, xGA), Brighton are three games without a loss and are a group of players (rightly) growing in confidence. Massive credit is due to Potter for staying the course and keeping everyone on board during tough times.
3. No silver linings for Spurs: By comparison, Tottenham — who, again, sit 6th in the table — rank 13th in xG and 14th in xGA. There is no positive regression that will eventually see Mourinho’s men rise up from the ashes — only further negative regression after starting the season with results outweighing performances as lopsidedly as they did.
The Seagulls began brightly and went inches from going a goal ahead in the 3rd minute. Brighton connected a snappy sequence of passes in and around the Tottenham penalty area before Pascal Gross wriggled free and curled a shot off the front of Hugo Lloris’s right-hand post.
The opening goal came in the 17th minute, before Tottenham even registered a shot in the game. Gross broke down the right side of Spurs’ 18-yard box and cut the ball back to Trossard near the penalty area, where the defense had fallen asleep and watched as the Belgian casually slotted home for 1-0.
Tottenham attempted their first shot in the 30th minute.
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Tottenham attempted their second shot in the 52nd minute.
Lloris came up heroic in the 56th minute to keep the score at 1-0. Ben White’s shot took a deflection and for the longest time it looked like the ball would sneak under Lloris for a second Brighton goal, but the Frenchman did quite well to react and smother it right on his goal line.
Spurs’ best chance for a goal came in the 80th minute, when Adam Webster headed a cross away and the ball immediately hit Dunk on the arm no more than three yards out. Referee Peter Bankes was unmoved initially and the video assistant referee saw no need for further review.
Brighton failed to convert a surefire sitter in the 85th minute, when Gross again got down the right flank and played the ball into the center. Only, this time Lloris had come rushing out and the goal was wide open. Toby Aldeweireld rotated back, tracked and blocked Aaron Connolly as he looked to nonchalantly fill the empty net.