Tottenham recently lost their Premier League form on Sunday night as they collapsed to a 1-0 away defeat in Brighton’s threatened relegation.
Since “launching their title bid” with a fine 2-0 victory over Manchester City in November, Spurs have won just three of their subsequent 11 league games.
Throughout that time, a common theme has been a frightening lack of creativity and nowhere has this been more evident than against the Seagulls this weekend. Upon entering the game, Brighton was perched dangerously close to the drop zone. Despite this, they managed to keep Spurs at bay.
After a 17-minute lead, following a good team movement involving Alexis Mac Allister, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard, Graeme Potter’s charges fell back to a well-organized 5-4-1.
In doing so, they were essentially challenging opponents to break them down, a task that was well beyond Tottenham’s capabilities on Sunday. Spurs registered just one shot in the entire first half – a rambling effort pulled by Steven Bergwijn – despite dominant possession. It was turgid stuff.
Things weren’t much better after the break either. Although the second half saw Spurs rack up seven attempts on goal – exactly the same as their 17th-placed opponents – they never looked like a convert.
There are many reasons for this unacceptable attacker display. For starters, going back didn’t help. When Spurs manage to put their noses up front, Mourinho’s style takes on its full meaning. Few teams are more devastating in transition and, while not perfect, Tottenham have proven themselves capable of absorbing pressure like a premium brand sponge in the past.
To say that, when looking for a lead, Tottenham is often tragic to watch.
This trend continued against Brighton as they lacked cohesion, consistency and any discernible playing plan or pattern. If the Spurs had prepared in training for the unthinkable possibility of falling behind in a football match, it was not like him.
Mourinho’s selection did not help their case either. The squad was filled with lacking quality players on the ball. Aligned 3-4-3, full-backs Moussa Sissoko and Ben Davies contributed virtually nothing to the offensive phase, while Matt Doherty watched them from the sideline.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, for all his destructive brilliance, was also ill-suited to the task at hand. Spurs needed someone who could pick Brighton’s lock.
Up front, Gareth Bale has been knocked out despite his recent uneven form. It was another display of nothing from the forward who increasingly looks like a signature fueled by doe-eyed nostalgia, rather than fiscal or football savvy.
This brings us to the third reason for Tottenham’s creative anger – the absence of Harry Kane.
Just as Leicester’s dependence on another mercurial England striker was revealed earlier on Sunday, the devastating impact Kane’s absence could have on Spurs over the next few weeks has been laid bare against Brighton.
Much has been written about Kane’s development into one of the country’s top designers this season, but perhaps the best endorsement of his ridiculous influence has come in the form of the heavy display of his side without him.
The England captain has been directly involved in 68% of Tottenham’s Premier League goals this season, more than any other player in the division, and it is becoming increasingly clear that his personal talent may have masked the cracks in the ‘imperfect approach from Spurs earlier. in the season.