Premier League 17/18: Brighton vs Tottenham Hotspur – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Seagulls will look to stretch their gap to safety when a Spurs side with a point to prove, pay them a visit on the South Coast.
19:45 BST, Tuesday 17th April, Amex Stadium (Brighton, England), Sky Sports
Chris Hughton’s team currently have a seven-point advantage over the Saints who currently occupy the top relegation slot.
Needing just one more win to confirm their Premier League status, the Seagulls have picked up only a solitary point from their last four league matches.
They’ve also enjoyed little luck at home against the table-topping sides so far this season but with each of their remaining fixtures scheduled to play teams in the top-seven, they will need to break this trend at some point if they’re to pick up that crucial win.
After Tottenham’s six-game winning streak was brought to an end last weekend, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have lost their advantage over Liverpool for a third-placed finish.
While this game provides a quick chance to put their disappointing result against Manchester City behind them, Spurs main focus now rests on the FA Cup.
But despite not losing to a newly-promoted team in the league for over 5 years now, Spurs come into this fixture having lost their last match in Brighton – although that defeat was back in 1983.
Last Time Out
Crystal Palace 3-2 Brighton (Premier League)
Brighton came out on the wrong side of this 5-goal thriller as this M23 derby will be remembered for all of the right reasons.
The game got off to a blistering start as the Eagles caught Brighton sleeping at the beginning of the match. Glenn Murray’s 18th-minute goal for the Seagulls halved the deficit after Palace took a quick two-goal lead only for Wilfried Zaha to grab his second and Palace’s third just six minutes later.
José Izquierdo again reduced the home side’s advantage before the break in what was a truly breathtaking opening 45 minutes. However, Palace were deserving of their lead due to mistakes by Brighton’s defence.
The second half saw the visitors force the game, pushing for an equalising goal with wave after wave of attack. They were unable to add a clinical touch to any of their chances and finished the match with only 3 shots on target to head back south empty-handed.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Manchester City (Premier League)
Tottenham were once again caught in the path of Pep Guardiola’s juggernaut as they were over-powered by a slick city side needing to prove their credentials.
After a 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture, this appeared to be the perfect opportunity for Pochettino’s men to exact some revenge. City roared out of the blocks from the first minute, however, climbing into a 2-goal lead within 25 minutes.
Spurs could consider themselves unfortunate with the second, a penalty awarded against Hugo Lloris for a foul which replays showed was just outside the area. If the free-kick had been correctly awarded rather than a penalty, this would have left Tottenham with only 10-men as Lloris was effectively the last defender to beat.
Christian Eriksen delivered again for his side by pulling a goal back just before half time and although Spurs did grow into the latter stages of the match, Manchester City proved the superior side and finished with a deserved and convincing 2-goal margin.
Davy Pröpper remains suspended while Izzy Brown (knee) Steve Sidwell (back) and Jiri Skalak (ankle) all miss out due to their respective long-term injuries.
Having switched to a 4-3-3 formation against Palace, Hughton may revert back to the 4-4-1-1 which he switched back to at half time last Saturday with Anthony Knockaert likely to earn a recall into the starting eleven.
Harry Winks (ankle) Danny Rose (calf) and Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring) remain Pochettino’s only injury concerns, however, there is likely to be several changes to his starting lineup.
Serge Aurier, Victor Wanyama and Heung-Min Son could all return to the starting lineup while there could possibly be a place for Lucas Moura to begin the match for Spurs too.
Key Battle: José Izquierdo (Brighton) vs Lucas Moura (Tottenham)
Izquierdo has arguably been Brighton’s best player this season which considering the impact made by Pascal Groß, it’s quite some achievement.
Despite only being directly involved in eight league goals this season (scored 5, assisted 3), he’s become more productive recently scoring three and making one assist from his last eight league appearances.
Still learning his game as well as adapting to English football, there promises to be much more to come from this Columbian winger in the future.
Another South American winger looking to make an impact in this match will be Spurs January signing, Lucas Moura.
Having been slowly integrated into the first team by Pochettino, his substitute performance last weekend may be enough to convince his manager to start him in this match.
Offering a pace and directness which few other Spurs players provide, he also could prove to be a future star for his side but will need to take his chance when it arises.
Fortune doesn’t favour the brave
Chris Hughton made the unexpected choice of fielding an unfamiliar formation against Crystal Palace last weekend, using a three-pronged attack to add width to his team. This could arguably have had at least some small part to play in their defensive frailties which had them concede three goals in the opening 24 minutes.
Hughton’s decision to restore a familiar shape at halftime meant the removal of record signing Jürgen Locadia during the interval. The Dutch forward has yet to live up to his £14 million price tag since his move from PSV Eindhoven in January, although, Murray has been keeping him from playing his favoured position.
While his premature switch for another forward could be seen as a worrying sign Locadia, his recent struggle for fitness following an injury and regular deployment in an unfamiliar role should be accounted for before passing judgement on his move.
Always the bridesmaid?
Tottenham’s defeat to City again raised the question of: exactly how good are this current Spurs side? The lack of silverware has become an albatross around the North Londoners neck in recent times, however, their failure to win crucial fixtures is looking to be the reason behind this.
The coming FA Cup match against Manchester United is, therefore, arguably the biggest game in a long time for Spurs. Pochettino’s men will undoubtedly be in a much stronger position next season when they move into their new home if they can do so with a trophy already in the cabinet.
But while belief is being painted as the final obstacle holding back the club’s progression, the experience the players have collectively gained over the last few seasons will prove more crucial to their development in the long-term.
Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Brighton will have the greater need for points from this game which will add further motivation to their home advantage.
Spurs will be keen to bounce back from their defeat to Manchester City in preparation for next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final and their extra strength in squad depth could help them take a win from a close game which comes at a quick turnaround from Saturday’s fixtures for both sides.