It was a gorgeous, sun-drenched day for the Premier League in North London, but Tottenham and Brighton brought the gloom of November to the pitch in a sloppy, at times dour match that only left the visitors happy after Leandro Trossard’s 90th-minute winner lifted the Seagulls to a 1-0 win.
Two teams capable of playing beautiful, free-flowing football forgot their manuals on Saturday, so it was no surprise that a sloppy exchange in Tottenham’s final third led to the only goal.
Trossard cut past a sluggish Eric Dier with a moment of brilliance and used his left peg to conjure another, leading Brighton to its three points and 10th-place status with 40 points.
Tottenham, meanwhile, throws its top-four advantage up for grabs, as the Premier League’s season of “Anyone want the last Champions League spot?” continues deep into April. Spurs 57 points are three more than North London rivals Arsenal, who at post-time have played two fewer matches. There’s still a North London derby match left on the PL docket, too.
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Tottenham vs Brighton final score, stats
Tottenham Hotspur 0, Brighton and Hove Albion 1
Scorer: Trossard (90′)
Shot attempts: Tottenham 5, Brighton 12
Shots on goal: Tottenham 0, Brighton 5
Possession: Tottenham 49, Brighton 51
Three Four things we learned from Tottenham vs Brighton
1. Kulusevski, Son irrelevant on either side of Kane: This isn’t to say that Harry Kane was a world-beater vs Brighton but his wings were either distracted (Dejan Kulusevski) or uncharacteristically sloppy (Heung-min Son). There’s a reason Kane was left to play the full 90, although a cynic might say it’s down to Antonio Conte figuring his center forward should get at least 30 touches over a full match. He got 27, including two key passes, as Brighton essentially invited Tottenham to find any other path to their doorstep. Brighton actually might’ve planned that Spurs would find the goal once against their 3-5-2, so scoring just once and winning will feel a boon.
2. If I’m a Spurs supporter, here’s what I’m thinking: Again… this is because I’m writing from a theoretical fan’s perspective and I’d be red-blooded and furious –> Spurs have to let Antonio Conte complete his Tottenham teardown because I think we can all agree that the man has won essentially everywhere and had almost zero misses in the personnel department so far in North London. Whatever it is that has Spurs sloppy and distracted when a win on Saturday could’ve made fourth place oh-so-snug in their beds. Harry Kane was okay at center forward and Conte’s menacing midfield duo of Rodrigo Betancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg — while annoying — were the only other players who attempted to really take the game by its trunk. Whoever Conte thinks is responsible for this, they need to go.
3. All it takes is one moment of beauty (and weakness): Leandro Trossard absolutely froze Eric Dier with a cut and then proceeded to slice off an inch-perfect shot to beat Hugo Lloris to the far post. Most of us can agree that Spurs need better than Dier as a regular starter at center back and most can agree that Brighton need a better center forward, but Trossard’s plenty dangerous from the wing (or midfield) and he’s now claimed six points for Brighton against North London derby opposition.
4. A note on the Enock Mwepu nontroversy: Graham Potter had to hook Enock Mwepu at halftime because the in-form midfielder was sitting on a yellow and Tottenham was going out of its way to try and force a second yellow card out of the referee’s pocket. It was understandable, silly, and just ridiculous, and we suppose Potter didn’t have chance as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg probably spent halftime on YouTube watching “Jackass” videos about how to make lesser-violent things look ultra-violent. Wish the cautionary words had with Mwepu were with opposition because the game’s better when he’s on the field.
Man of the Match: Marc Cucurella — We knew the Barcelona man would bring flair, skill in possession, and industry, but who saw this level of grit. Cucurella may not always be difficult to break down, but his recovery speed and animalistic desire to win the ball means you may have to break him down 2-3 times in the same move. Bonus money for Yves Bissouma, Joel Veltman, and Leandro Trossard. Brighton deserved this.