FROM TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR STADIUM – After last week’s sucker-punch 2-2 draw at Everton, scrutiny in the world of Tottenham Hotspur was centred on one issue.
Spurs led the Premier League in most goals conceded beyond the 90th minute with eight, raising questions over Ange Postecoglou’s style and whether his team needed to adapt.
“It’s disappointing to concede goals late. It’s disappointing to concede goals early, either side of half-time is not great. Round about the 70th minute mate you get disappointed,” he said at his press conference ahead of Saturday’s visit of Brighton & Hove Albion.
“Mate I don’t care. I get it, people will want to analyse it. That’s fine. We’re always going to be a team that scores goals or concedes goals late. The way we want to close out games is by scoring more goals.
“That’s not going to satisfy everyone and the statisticians’ heads will explode with me explaining it that way but it’s just the team we want to be and that’s the most important thing for me. The thing for me that we haven’t done so far and what we won’t do is jump at shadows trying to fix what the current potential issue is.
“We’re still building a team here and building a way of playing and for me that is still the most important thing. It was disappointing to concede late last week but overall, at a difficult place, for the most part we handled it OK.”
Tottenham’s players managed to vindicate their head coach by clinching a 2-1 victory against Brighton in the 96th minute.
Brighton went in front when Tottenham, quite literally, turned into trouble. Rodrigo Bentancur ceded possession on the edge of his own box before Micky van de Ven hauled down Danny Welbeck, and Pascal Gross made no mistake from the penalty spot.
It capped off a period where Spurs were careless both in and out of possession. The Seagulls had disrupted their hosts early on and sought to continue that trend by slowing the game down as much as they could.
Tottenham ended the first half on top and got a reward for their endeavours after the break, with Pape Matar Sarr finding an equaliser at the second attempt after his initial attempt was deflected onto the post.
It looked as though Spurs would ride that momentum and take the lead, but Brighton regained their superiority for the first time since the early stages. Both sides seemed to have completely knackered the other out until the grandstand finish.
With one final foray, Tottenham scythed their way through Brighton, with James Maddison sliding in Richarlison and play switching to the returning Son Heung-min. Getting into second gear, the South Korean skipped to the byline and rolled the ball on a plate for Brennan Johnson to smash in from close range.
That was it. Not for the first time this season – which has been forgotten in the chaos of the last week – Tottenham had again found themselves embroiled in an end-to-end ding-dong battle but edged it out at the end. The added quality from the bench has ensured Spurs have and will continue to emerge victorious in these clashes.
For the first time since the autumn, Postecoglou was able to select a bench that featured names unfortunate not to be in the starting XI. The ability to change the game and bring in different options has not been one afforded to Spurs too often this season.
It’s just as well these stars are back considering Tottenham have looked like they had been figured out at various points in recent weeks. Brentford knew how to get under Spurs’ skin, with Everton and now Brighton following suit. Postecoglou has needed to instil some evolution and the extra bodies will prove the solution.
Tottenham are now a third of the way into a kind fixture schedule which features a run of three successive home games on a Saturday at 3pm. The season has set itself up nicely for Postecoglou and Spurs to enter a second peak of the campaign.
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