Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton highlighted the caution that must be taken into account when coming up quality opposition in the Premier League, after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.
Despite an improved second-half display, which saw the Seagulls enjoy more of the ball than in the opening half, Erik Lamela’s goal extended Tottenham’s lead to 2-0, before Anthony Knockaert replied late on.
Hughton felt his side would have benefited from entering the break on level terms, while also commenting on the tactical approach he decided on against Mauricio Pochettino’s team.
He said, “These are the type of games that if you’re too brave, they can open you up. There are different ways to win games, and what we have to do is determine, tactically, the best way to do that.
“They have top quality players and when you’re that close to pitch level, you see their qualities and the ways they can play through midfield.
“But I genuinely feel that without a penalty in the first half, we would have gone in at 0-0 with the opportunity to get stronger in the second half.
“We’ll go through the game and pick things out that we could have done better, but it’s very difficult against the level of players we were up against.”
Knockaert had a fine chance to level the game before Lamela’s strike, and Hughton believes the contest could have taken a different swing had the Frenchman beat Paulo Gazzaniga after the break.
“If Anthony’s chance goes in and makes it 1-1, it’s a different game. At that stage, we would’ve had the momentum.
“We conceded the second goal because we were chasing to get back in the game - that happens.
“But at 1-1, we could have kept the momentum going and not had that desperation to press in areas where you know they’re going to play around you.”
Albion were dealt a blow in the opening half when Dale Stephens left the field with an injury, and Hughton admitted it was a disappointing moment for the team, but praised Beram Kayal for his input after coming on.
“It’s a blow because he's a very good player for us and we have to adjust. I thought Beram showed really good energy when he came on, particularly with the three we had in the middle of the park.
"That gave us an opportunity to press high, but in that central position, particularly with [Yves] Bissouma still feeling his feet and becoming accustomed to the way we want to play, it was a blow.
“It's something that he felt, so he had to come off. All we can hope for is that it’s not as bad as we first thought.”