Six things we learned from Tottenham v Brighton & Hove Albion
Brighton battled throughout before Christian Eriksen's late goal gave Tottenham all three points in the Premier League last night. Here's six things we learned from the game.
Reasons to be positive
Albion need to replicate their performance at Tottenham for the remainder of the Premier League season.
Brighton have been much more like themselves in the last two games, the 0-0 draw at Wolves and yesterday's late defeat, after a run of five successive defeats.
The 5-0 loss to Bournemouth and 2-0 defeat to Cardiff had fans questioning the players but there have been more positives than negatives to take out of the last two performances.
The way Albion defended was superb as every player threw their bodies in the way of shots and made Spurs shoot from distance, although Christian Eriksen found the net from range late on.
Albion need to take last night's performance into Saturday's home game with Newcastle and then into the final two matches of the season against Arsenal and Manchester City as they bid to seal their place in the Premier League for another season.
A heartbreaking finish
Christian Eriksen's late goal was a real sickener for Albion after they way they had defended.
There had been goal-line clearances, blocks, excellent saves by Mathew Ryan and crucial interceptions until Eriksen let fly from 22 yards and found the bottom corner with a sweet left-footed strike.
It was hard to take for the Albion players but they will take heart from the way they played.
The home crowd had been getting more and more frustrated throughout the second half but Spurs maintained their 100 per cent start at their new stadium with the late goal and remain in pole position to claim one of the Champions League places.
Dunk back in England form
Lewis Dunk has been back to his best in the last couple of games and back to the form which saw him make his England debut in November.
Central defensive partner Shane Duffy called Dunk 'a monster' after his performance at Spurs. The Brighton born-and-bred defender has been excellent for much of the season but wasn't quite on top form in the defeats to Bournemouth and Cardiff.
He has formed a formidable partnership with Duffy over the last three seasons and Brighton will need the duo on top of their game for the remaining three matches this season.
If the Seagulls stay up and Dunk continues to play like this again next season, you wouldn't bet against another England cap.
Where's a goal going to come from?
The answer to that question is a real worry for Albion fans at the moment.
The Seagulls have now failed to score in seven successive matches since Solly March netted the equaliser in injury-time at the end of normal time against Millwall in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Since then Brighton have failed to score in 660 minutes and more worringly haven't really created many chances.
Opportunities have been few and far between for strikers Glenn Murray and Florin Andone. With Anthony Knockaert back available for Saturday's match with Newcastle, will Chris Hughton throw him straight back into the side in the hope he can help set up openings for the Seagulls' forwards?
One positive for Albion is Pascal Gross is now back and Jose Izquierdo is likely to come back into the squad for Saturday, so there are more attacking options.
Team selection a risk?
Brighton boss Chris Hughton received a couple of negative comments from pundits on BBC Radio 5 Live before the game.
Former England striker Chris Sutton was surprised Hughton opted to make six changes to his starting line-up from Saturday's 0-0 draw with Wolves, while another former England forward Ian Wright called Brighton's boss 'very negative'.
Sutton felt Hughton was putting all of his eggs in one basket regarding Saturday's home game with Newcastle by making so many changes and said: "Staying in the Premier League is a big deal for Brighton.
"They haven't scored in five games? It would worry me as a Brighton fan going forward. I am not calling for him to be sacked by any stretch of the imagination but going forward I would be thinking where are they going next season as a Brighton fan.
"Making changes tonight and putting all the eggs in one basket for the Newcastle game, that is one hell of a risk. We can say the end justifies the means with the tactics against Wolves but they were very lucky. In contrast Cardiff had a real go against Liverpool. Brighton still have work to do and I think it is a risk making all these changes."
Wright was critical of the way Hughton has set Albion up recently after failing to score in six games and said: "It would be nice to see a Chris Hughton side actually attack a team and getting their creative players playing instead of the kind of football he plays. We know what is going to happen he is going to have them defending and hoping that something happens, like he did against Wolves.
"I have seen a quote where he says certain teams have to play a certain type of football and he has one of those teams that has to do a lot of fighting but he has some creative players. We are talking Solly March on the bench, Glenn Murray on the bench here - I just think he is a very negative coach."
With the way Brighton performed, Hughton will feel more than justified in making the changes to his line-up last night.
A nervy weekend coming up
Saturday's match at home to Newcastle is huge for Brighton. A win will almost seal Premier League safety for another season as that would leave Cardiff needing at least seven points from their last three games owing to their inferior goal difference.
The worry for Albion however is their strong home form for the first 18 months of their time in the Premier League has deserted them in recent weeks.
Defeats at the Amex to Burnley, Southampton, Bournemouth and Cardiff has left them just three points ahead of third-from-bottom Cardiff.
With Newcastle already safe, that could give Albion a glimmer of hope that they can gain a much-needed win as the following two matches against Arsenal and Manchester City could be a tall order to get anything from.
Cardiff are at already-relegated Fulham on Saturday, before finishing their season with Crystal Palace and Manchester United. A win on Saturday will take Brighton a big step towards securing survival.
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