Six things we learned from Brighton's defeat at Tottenham

Brighton went down 2-0 at Tottenham in their first match at Wembley since 1991. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Wednesday, 13th December 2017, 11:55 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:19 am
Lewis Dunk on the ball under pressure from Harry Kane. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

When things aren't going your way

Brighton went into the game without a win in five games and knew they would have to defend well and ride their luck to get anything at Wembley.

The first part went well as the Seagulls were back to their best in defence but luck just did not go their way.

Tottenham celebrate their opening goal. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Serge Aurier broke away down the right and was fouled by Jose Izquierdo as he crossed and the ball still looped over Albion keeper Mathew Ryan and into the far top corner of the goal.

Some fans had been critical of Ryan after Huddersfield's second goal on Saturday but there was little Australia's number one could do about it.

At the other end, luck was not on Brighton's side when Tomer Hemed's instinctive strike on 70 minutes was kept out by the legs of Hugo Lloris. A yard either side and the ball would have been in the back of the net but that's just the way things are going for Albion at the moment.

Set-up for a point?

Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen had said in the build-up to the game that Brighton would be looking for a point - and Albion boss Chris Hughton played three central midfielders to try to combat Spurs' high-pressing game.

The Seagulls struggled with Huddersfield's pressing on Saturday when they played a 4-4-1-1 formation, with Pascal Gross behind Glenn Murray.

Tonight, Beram Kayal was alongside Dale Stephens and Davy Propper in the middle of the pitch and Tomer Hemed was up front on his own. While Tottenham full-backs Serge Aurier and Danny Rose pushed forward into high areas, Albion produced a resolute defensive performance.

Tottenham had their chances but wasteful finishing prevented them from taking the lead until Aurier's fortunate cross looped over Mathew Ryan and into the far top corner.

Spurs fans had obviously heard Eriksen's comments and needed no second invitation to start whistling at what they perceived to be time wasting from Brighton.

The first occasion was after just 13 minutes when Shane Duffy let Ryan take a free kick and continued throughout much of the first half.

Where are the goals going to come from?

Albion failed to score for the fourth time in five Premier League matches and their only goal in that run came from the penalty spot through Glenn Murray against Liverpool.

The Seagulls have scored just 14 in 17 league games and need to rediscover their touch in front of goal sooner rather than later.

They rarely troubled Huddersfield on Saturday and only had one real clear chance tonight when Tomer Hemed was denied by the legs of Hugo Lloris.

The hunt for a striker in the summer was much publicised but no one can criticise the work-rate and return from Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed this season. They have scored five and two goals respectively but it would be a surprise if the Seagulls did not look to bring in more firepower in January.

Rumours last week suggested Albion were keeping tabs on Celtic striker Moussa Dembele. A new striker - and a few more goals - to support and provide competition for Murray and Hemed could be the difference between staying up or not.

Rocks at the back

Albion knew they would have to defend well at Wembley tonight and Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk were back to their best.

Brighton had conceded seven goals in their previous two games, with Liverpool easing to a 5-1 win at the Amex and then Huddersfield beating the Seagulls 2-0 on Saturday.

Dunk was captain for the game with Bruno on the bench and both handled the threat of Harry Kane, who had scored 50 goals in 48 games heading into the match, superbly.

Duffy produced a superb challenge to deny Heung-Min Son early on - with Spurs fans appealing for a penalty - and later in the first half cleared Kane's goalbound effort off the line.

The central defensive duo could do nothing about Tottenham's opening goal when Serge Aurier's cross found the far top corner.

They were both then massively frustrated with Spurs' second goal when Son got in front of Davy Propper to head home Christan Eriksen's free kick, via a deflection off the Albion midfielder.

Point to prove

A couple of Albion players perhaps had points to prove at Wembley.

Anthony Knockaert was left out of the squad at Huddersfield on Saturday, while Ezequiel Schelotto went off at half-time on his first Premier League start.

Knockaert was full of energy as usual and looked Albion's most likely source of a goal, while Schelotto had his hands full with Danny Rose and Heung-Min Son running at him.

After an early slip which let in Son, Schelotto had a solid enough match. He gave the ball away too easily on a couple of occasions but defended well against a Spurs line-up with a wealth of attacking talent.

Return to Wembley

Albion played at Wembley for the first time since 1991 and Chris Hughton rang the changes for the game.

In total, the Seagulls boss made five changes to the side which lost 2-0 with a disappointing performance at Huddersfield on Saturday.

Anthony Knockaert returned to the starting line-up after missing the Terriers game, while Beram Kayal came in for his first match of the season after breaking a leg in the pre-season friendly with Atletico Madrid.

Tomer Hemed made his first start since his retrospective ban in October, while Gaetan Bong and Jose Izquierdo also came into the starting 11. Captain Bruno and Pascal Gross both missed out on a place in the starting line-up for the first time this season.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino made four changes from his side's 5-1 win over Stoke on Saturday. Erik Lamela started for the first time in 14 months after operations on both hips, while Danny Rose, Moussa Sissoko and Serge Aurier also came into the team.

Knockaert was one of the biggest threats for the Seagulls - just like he was at Old Trafford when Brighton lost 1-0 - but Albion failed to score in open play for the fifth successive match.