Brighton reality check for Spurs as Bissouma dominates

Brighton's Yves Bissouma and Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura battle for the ball

Brighton's Yves Bissouma and Tottenham Hotspur's Lucas Moura battle for the ball - Credit: Nigel French/PA

“It was only fair that if we beat Arsenal we had to go to Spurs and beat them."

Graham Potter was a contented man after an injury time winner from Leandro Trossard on Saturday brought another three points in north London for his Brighton side - this time winning 1-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

A recent hot streak had put Antonio Conte's side in the driving seat for a Champions League spot, and from that position any game against a team that's not traditionally one of the "big" clubs can look like three points to lose.

But the truth is that Brighton are a very good side, hampered by the lack of top goalscorer.

 “It feels it (better than the win at Arsenal),” said Potter. “I thought the performance was a step up, the players were incredible, the work rate, discipline. We had good organisation and attitude to defend and being brave with the ball.

“We asked questions of Spurs, it wasn’t a smash and grab, and we were playing against team with some world-class players who are in a good moment.

And he's right, and Conte agreed, Brighton deserved the win. 

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Tottenham were pegged back and harried for much of the first half, with the Seagulls closing down well and dominating the midfield.

Tempers flared and although there were bad tackles from the visitors, Dejan Kulusevski could have walked after swinging an elbow and Rodrigo Bentancur was on the edge with a lunging tackle on Yves Bissouma.

There was more urgency from Spurs in the second half and the eventual introduction of Lucas Moura, especially, added a different energy, running with the ball at the defence.

But when the Brighton goal came in injury time, they had earnt it. After a slightly lucky break Leandro Trossard gave a nice drop of the shoulder and finished low beyond Hugo Lloris.

The consolation for Tottenham is that Arsenal lost 1-0 at Southampton, meaning the top-four race is still in Spurs' hands.

Brighton and Hove Albion's Tariq Lamptey (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min in action

Brighton and Hove Albion's Tariq Lamptey (left) and Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min in action - Credit: Nigel French/PA

Yves Bissouma

Yves Bissouma is very, very good. This won't come as news to anyone who watches Brighton regularly, and certainly at least one London journalist has been flying the flag for a long while, but he absolutely dominates the middle of the park in a way that will be drawing covetous glances from the more monied clubs.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur

Which brings us on to the Spurs midfield and the partnership that has settled down almost as quickly as the front three. Although the willingness and work rate remained in this game, the pair were unable to pick a route through Brighton's maze, masterminded by Bissouma. It was a reminder that sometimes new ideas are needed. Harry Winks' introduction made little impact but perhaps one answer may come when Oliver Skipp. His youthful drive might just have shaken things up here.

Making runs

It was notable that while Brighton dominated midfield, Heung-Min Son through the middle, and Sergio Reguilón on the left continued to look to make runs along the back line. But although Spurs are not normally averse to a pinged long-ball from Cristian Romero or Eric Dier, here they seemed determined to beat Brighton the length of the park. 

Brighton and Hove Albion's Joel Veltman and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane battle for the ball

Brighton and Hove Albion's Joel Veltman and Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane battle for the ball - Credit: Nigel French/PA

Plan B

Antonio Conte said afterwards that "there are games that if you’re not able to win, you’re not to lose". However, chasing a top four spot means a draw will not normally do, and the introduction of Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn, which injected to fresh energy, could have come sooner.

Sess

Sergio Reguilón is a top-class full-back and has been a great success in the new regime, playing exactly the role that Conte would want to see. But he has just returned from injury and looked tired here. Ryan Sessegnon will be hugely disappointed with his Spurs career so far, having made such an impact at Fulham as a teenager, but he clearly has talent. It's worrying that he wasn't brought on to change things on the flank in this match. It can take time to find your feet though. Fans who were regulars at White Hart Lane will well remember Gareth Bale's 24 attempts before he appeared in a winning team. Great things may yet lie ahead for Sess, but he needs to play.