The Big Match Tactical View: Brighton v Tottenham
Tottenham have lost three in a row - can they avoid fourth defeat when they visit the Amex on Saturday? Michael Cox and Alan Thompson preview the action...
"Glenn Murray needs service from wide, and therefore the battles in wide positions will be crucial for the home side."
Brighton v Tottenham
Live on BT Sport 1
Match Odds: Brighton [5.0], Tottenham [1.8], The Draw [4.0].
Tottenham Hotspur have now lost three matches in a row, their worst run under Mauricio Pochettino, and won't be relishing this trip down to Brighton, who defeated Manchester United in their last home fixture against one of the Premier League's big boys.
The manner of Spurs' defeats has been concerning in different ways. In the Watford game, they were overpowered, against Liverpool they were outclassed and, at Inter, they let the lead slip late on. Brighton, on the other hand, were on the right side of an eventful comeback in midweek, drawing 2-2 at Southampton having been 2-0 down, and will approach this game in confident mood.
Spurs defenders to return?
Pochettino's team selection for this contest will be interesting. He omitted both Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld from the travelling squad against Inter, but both are likely to be recalled here. The four-man defence seems a better bet against a Brighton side that field Glenn Murray alone upfront, so Davinson Sanchez will probably be on the bench with Jan Vertonghen alongside his compatriot Alderweireld. Ben Davies could be used on the left, with Danny Rose poor in recent weeks.
Further forward, Pochettino's selection is very much unknown. Last week he started with a midfield diamond against Liverpool before reverting to 4-3-3 at half-time. The diamond left Spurs' full-backs exposed, but Pochettino might consider that this is a risk worth taking against a Brighton side whose wide midfielders tuck inside.
Kane still looks off-form
Clearly, the reason for playing the diamond is to provide Harry Kane with support because he currently lacks the sharpness to run in behind the opposition. Lucas Moura has been very bright from that unfamiliar second striker role, but the midfield diamond doesn't really appear to suit anyone else in the side.
I feel Pochettino will go for a 4-2-3-1 here. Eric Dier isn't in good form so Harry Winks and Mousa Dembele could play deep, with three from Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli (if considered fit enough), Lucas, Erik Lamela and the returning Son Heung-min supporting Kane. Alli and Lucas will need to provide the speed in behind.
Knockaert is Brighton's danger man
Hughton's Brighton always use a familiar starting XI, although their usual 4-4-1-1 has sometimes become more of a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 when Pascal Gross, their ultra-creative number 10, has been out injured. He'll probably start if fit, but if not Hughton may deploy the more cautious shape.
If that's the case, the creative responsibility will lie with Brighton's wide players. Anthony Knockaert has been more prominent this season, recording assists with devilish deliveries from wide against both Fulham and Brighton, and he probably plays better when not in the same side as Gross. On the left, Solly March works hard up and down the touchline and is also capable of putting good balls in towards Murray.
Murray is in fine form this season, of course, although Spurs' high line will push him away from the penalty box. He needs service from wide, and therefore the battles in wide positions will be crucial for the home side. Knockaert might be able to get the better of Rose or Davies, in particular.
I'm reluctant to believe that Spurs are suffering a genuine 'crisis', but the form of Kane remains a major concern, and their recent performances have done little to suggest they should as short as [1.8] here, so I'll lay Spurs at that price.
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
Since their 3-0 win at Old Trafford, Spurs have suffered three 2-1 defeats in a row, despite taking a second half the lead in two of the games. The latest of those defeats in the San Siro was especially difficult to take as they gave away their advantage in the final five mutes.
The Amex stadium certainly isn’t as formidable as a midweek trip to Milan but Brighton have only lost one of their last nine Premier League home games and they have already shown this season that they can raise their game when the bigger sides arrive.
I agree with Michael that Spurs look a little short to at around [1.8]. This fixture finished 1-1 last season and I can see a similar scoreline this time around. I will be a layer of Tottenham at anything less than [1.9] and will have a little bet on the correct score 1-1 at [8.2].
Michael: Lay Spurs at [1.8]
Alan: Lay Spurs at [1.8] and back 1-1 at [8.20].