Tactical Analysis: Why did Tottenham manage to beat Brighton?

I found this a very intriguing game to watch tactically, because Spurs went out to attack, but Brighton had set up simply to defend with 11 men, which is a brave strategy and a risky one at that. They were hoping to counter with the ball, which eventually they did do very well when they scored through winger Anthony Knockaert in the 93rd minute. They were very solid at the back to start with, and Spurs found it very difficult to break them down or to find a pass through them, but as soon as Brighton gave away a penalty (which can be argued either way but I thought it was a penalty too), they seemed to collapse at the back and made it much easier for Spurs to score their second later on in the game.

To expand further, Brighton had obviously gone to the Amex hoping and perhaps aiming to stop Spurs scoring, and take a goalless draw or a 1-1 or maybe a 1-0 if they managed to get a good counter-attack going, and take a point before moving on to their next game. That’s fair enough. But early in the match it was quite clear that they have a back four, then a midfield four in front of them, and then both Davy Propper and Glenn Murray played with one behind the other respectively, moving freely and ready to go if a counter was on. However, with the second goal, scored by Argentine winger Erik Lamela, there were only three of the back four forming a vague line with huge gaps in the middle, nowhere near as organised as it had initially been, and then two or three of the original midfield rank vaguely in front of them. They had lost their rank discipline, and as such it was an easier goal for them to score. As I said, they did get a goal back late on, but the damage had been done defensively.

Brighton will have easier games, but they need to start winning again soon, because with Newcastle just picking up points even when not playing their best, and Burnley now back to winning ways as it seems, they will be slowly sucked back down towards the relegation zone if they don’t improve on some of these things quickly. Mauricio Pochettino’s reaction of blowing his cheeks at the end was a telling sign, either that he knew it had been a tough game to win, or that he was pleased to be back to winning ways, but either way, these are the reasons that they were eventually able to win this match.

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