Tottenham v Brighton: Seagulls a big price to provide a Boxing Day shock
Alan Dudman previews the lunchtime Boxing Day fixture in north London, and is backing Brighton to cause an upset against Tottenham...
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton and Hove Albion Kick off 12:30, Boxing Day Live on Amazon Prime
Jose's Achilles' heel conceding goals continues
Tottenham were comprehensively outplayed by Chelsea when losing 0-2 on Sunday. The performance and result highlighted a couple of things; firstly that Jose Mourinho still can't find the secret of keeping those clean sheets. My colleague Dave Tindall stressed the point before the weekend's loss that Mourinho had managed just one shut-out in his eight games. And it's still one.
Secondly, the two holding midfielders didn't work again. The Portuguese coach went with that system against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and it simply leaves the attack too isolated from the defence with no in-between. Spurs were very narrow and compact against Frank Lampard's team, but they took too many touches at the back. It was no surprise that Christian Eriksen replaced Eric Dier at the break, but the north Londoners failed to make any inroads in the second 45.
They also had Son Heung-Min red-carded for the second time this campaign. The club have confirmed they are appealing.
While Deli Alli has flourished under the new manager, his position on Sunday summed up how Lampard had outfoxed Mourinho with his back-three. Alli spent more time deployed on the left to cut out the counter-attacks and he never really got going in the game.
Their record at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this season reads W5 D2 L2 with 19 goals scored. One of those draws was a 1-1 with Sheffield United.
Some bright signs on the road for Seagulls
I opposed Brighton in my preview for Saturday's 0-1 home loss to the Blades, as they were simply too short at 2.06 to get excited about. They had 70% of the ball in that, but strangely it was a game of few chances (although plenty of VAR action). Seagulls' boss Graham Potter admitted his team didn't play very well and the result leaves them on 20 points. Which is one fewer after 18 games than previous manager Chris Hughton last term.
Overall, Brighton haven't been too bad away from the Amex. They picked up that excellent victory at Arsenal with a performance full of grit and determination, and they produced a good display at Anfield when losing 2-1 to Liverpool. Potter's side had more of the ball at 55% possession in that, but Virgil van Dijk cruelly exposed their defending of set-pieces with two goals.
At the other end of the pitch, however, their set-piece prowess has been good. Ahead of the Arsenal match, seven of their 10 goals had come from those situations.
In truth, it's a bit of a mixed bag with Brighton. I like the way they keep possession, but the lack of an end product for all their domination is becoming a common theme. The lack of wins has seen them chalk up a run of just one victory in seven since the beginning of November.
Potter's men not complete no-hopers at a big price
For all of Brighton's faults, Spurs have them too; which makes the home side price of 1.61 a complete non-starter. Yes, they could easily win the match, but I've previewed games this season with Everton losing to Norwich priced at 1.31, and Chelsea losing to West Ham at long odds-on too. Even Manchester United won the derby at double figures rather astonishingly.
Plenty of stats support the hosts here, especially Mourinho - who doesn't give any presents to his rivals over the festive period. According to Opta stats, he has never lost in seven Premier League matches on Boxing Day. We can also add that Spurs are unbeaten in 13 matches on the same day since 2003 compared to Brighton's horror sequence which stands currently at no wins from their last 10.
However, Brighton did win at the Amex 3-0 and they are looking to complete their first-ever league double over Tottenham.
So do we have a chance backing Brighton at nearly 5/1? Hopefully they can turn their possession into goals, especially as Mourinho's record in terms of conceding at the moment is far from impressive. Since his first game, no Premier League team has conceded more goals than Spurs across all competitions (14 - joint-high along with Arsenal).
I do expect a change from Mourinho to ditch the holding two, but Brighton should see a fair bit of the ball and with that, could create some chances. Neal Maupay has been scoring, while 19-year-old Aaron Connolly showed up well in both the Arsenal and Liverpool matches.
We can certainly consider laying Spurs at such a short price and they are certainly short enough for a cheap lay at 1.61. However, the Draw No Bet looks quite appealing at 5.00.
Kane has fine Christmas record
Harry Kane has been the "go-to" man for Boxing Day fixtures, which is not a surprise. His impressive stats of seven in just four Boxing Day fixtures makes him a 1.80 chance in the To Score market. Alli is bigger at 2.70, and if he plays in a more forward position with either Eriksen or Harry Winks finding those high-tempo passes, he has to be of interest too considering his goal return since the chance of managers. Currently four.
Those are two fairly obvious plays, and so is the Over 2.5 Goals chalked up at 1.64. There's probably an element of Mourinho's lack of clean sheets in that, plus the fact that Brighton have scored in all five of their away fixtures since defeat at Chelsea. There's a bit of a bigger figure with the 1.77 on offer for 'Yes' on Both Teams To Score, but both are too short.