July 31, 2011
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I was really impressed by Brighton’s new “AMEX” stadium, which is designed nicely to fit into the valley, and seems the perfect size for a club of Brighton’s stature. Getting there was easy too – free train travel from the main Brighton station for those with a match ticket, and a 10 minute run up the line to Falmer. I could also have got a bus from the city centre (again free).
Spurs sent out a strong side, lining up in the standard 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 (depending on how you look at it!).
Corluka Dawson Kaboul Assou-Ekotto
Lennon Jenas Livermore Bale
van der Vaart
The home side, managed by Gus Poyet, played a 4-4-2:
Calderon Dunk Greer Painter
Sparrow Dicker Bridcutt LuaLua
My thoughts on the game:
- A very good work-out against a technically decent and well organised Brighton team. Most of our players now have a full 90 minutes behind them.
- A real shame that Modric wasn’t involved – supposedly he has been ill. I’m sure many people are reading a lot more into it than I care to!
- Also a shame that van der Vaart went off injured in the first half; it did look like he just took a heavy knock when challenging for the ball, so I don’t think it’s too much to worry about.
- There were not really any particularly stunning performances, but it was the best I have seen Livermore play, and he nearly scored with a lovely strike from distance that beat the keeper easily and rattled the bar.
- In the first half, nearly all of our good moments came when Pavlyuchenko made a trademark run into the channel to drag a centre back out – he did this well at times, and his lay-offs were decent (setting up a couple of players for efforts on goal). In the second half he didn’t do this nearly as much – whether he was tired, lazy, or instructed otherwise, I’m not sure.
- Defoe may as well not have been on the pitch – he certainly didn’t seem to me to be a striker trying to play himself back into form.
- Bale and Lennon both had their moments, but Bale often had two or three players to contend with, and got some very rough treatment at times (one tackle in particular was really nasty). Lennon didn’t seem to want to go on the outside of the full-back – I often notice that Lennon is like this when not playing at full intensity.
- Our wingers occasionally swapped sides – our first goal came from Bale dancing down the right and crossing with the outside of his left foot, having found himself there from a corner. He then fed in Corluka from the right moments later for our second.
- Kaboul didn’t cover himself in glory for the first goal – he was easily beaten by a dummy when he had come out quite a way with his man. This left us stretched – Dawson couldn’t stop Mackail-Smith getting the ball across, and Corluka was left with two men and didn’t have a chance to get across. Otherwise Kaboul and Dawson generally did well, and to me complement one another better than Dawson/Gallas.
- The full backs were solid, calm and reliable – having said that, LuaLua was Brighton’s best player. Corluka generally sent him inside (which seemed logical) but, unfortunately, that was where he scored the equaliser from! Gomes will be disappointed to have been beaten at his near post, and was slow to get down to the shot.
- Corluka should have had a penalty – he went over a challenge in the corner of the Brighton box, having beaten the Brighton player to the ball. The referee bottled it and gave a corner.
- Both teams had some long spells of keep-ball, and we were very compact during Brighton’s periods of possession – this was a useful exercise in itself.
- We at times played some neat one-touch football, with Jenas often involved; this is one of his main strengths. Jenas played a restricted, deeper-lying role and did OK.
- Having been unable to get a ticket in the Spurs end, I sat in Brighton’s North Stand. It is always interesting to hear what opposition fans think of our players – general comments seemed to be that we had quality all over the pitch (for example, a few fans seemed surprised at how calm Assou-Ekotto was under pressure). Gomes was seen as a figure of fun and got lots of shouts of “dodgy keeper”, etc etc. Defoe seemed to be respected as a top player and they were surprised that he was only on the bench.
- In my opinion it was absolutely ridiculous that our promising young players (Townsend, Carroll, Kane) were left sat on the bench and not used. Surely this is partly what friendlies are for?
My “in-game” tweets in chronological order in case they are of interest:
Early corners for Brighton culminate in an effort from Lua Lua (I think!). Saved and scrambled away.
Another half chance for the home side – ball cleared to edge of box but fired wide.
1-0, deserved. Tap in after good cross. Ashley Barnes the scorer.
Lennon shoots wide after smart one-two with Pav. Lennon probably our brightest player so far.
Livermore smashes one off the bar after link up with Pav, who has moved well so far. Livermore growing into the game after nervy start.
Spurs were starting to dominate but Brighton have just played nearly five minutes of solid keep-ball, culminating in two corners.
Friedel palms Lua Lua effort out and Assou-Ekotto tidies up.
VDV off injured.
VDV picked up a knock from a heavy fall early on. Seemed like he’d run it off but Defoe has just replaced him.
Bale danced down the right, beyond two players & crossed with the outside of his left. Not sure if Kaboul or a defender got the vital touch.
It looped up beyond the keeper either way. Corluka makes it 2-1 getting forward and slotting inside near post.
Not a great half from Spurs – fairly compact but not much cutting edge. Lennon doesn’t want to go down the outside. Jenas/Livermore not got enough creativity between them. VDV injury hopefully not too serious. On the plus side, a terrific work out.
For Brighton, Lua Lua very lively and Mackail-Smith causing a few probs when taking up position between Dawson & Corluka.
Corluka did very well for his goal – beat Greer easily and tucked inside near post. Keeper should really have done better.
Tempting fate to say I backed 3-1 at 14.5 on Betfair?
Gomes getting the treatment from the home crowd…
Nice one touch move from Spurs – Jenas & Pav setting up Bale, but it goes wide. Massive pen shout – Corluka fouled by Lua Lua. Not given.
2-2, Lua Lua fires low into near post from distance. Gomes slow down but a great hit.
Bale has just been absolutely scythed down. Shocker.
He’s up and OK but I can see Townsend replacing him.
Nightmare at the back for Brighton and Livermore tucks it into an empty net.
Not the most exciting second half! Livermore prob stand out player, best I’ve seen him play.