Tottenham Hotspur bounced back from their recent north London derby defeat with a narrow victory away at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday evening, with talisman Harry Kane getting the game’s only goal in what was an entertaining encounter at the Amex.
The England skipper had produced an instinctive header to turn home Heung-min Son’s whipped cross, with that lethal pairing yet again combining to good effect, having broken the Premier League record last season for most goal combinations in the competition’s history – ahead of Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard.
That stunning Lilywhites duo were again the key figures in that triumph over the Seagulls, although there was another individual who also proved their worth in that clash, with summer signing Yves Bissouma having made his mark on what was just his second top-flight start of the season so far.
The Mali international – who had signed on a £25m deal from Brighton in the recent window – has been forced to bide his time under Antonio Conte to date, although showcased his talent in what was an encouraging performance in a midfield three against his former side.
The absence of Dejan Kulusevski due to injury had seen the title-winning coach deploy a 3-5-2 formation for the meeting with Roberto De Zerbi’s men, with Bissouma lining up alongside Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojberg.
The 26-year-old made a “big difference” to the side – in the words of journalist Jack Pitt-Brooke – as he helped to bolster the centre of the park, notably winning two of his three ground duels and recording one tackle and one interception in that 70-minute outing.
As journalist Dan Kilpatrick noted in his post-match player ratings piece for the Evening Standard, Bissouma proved an effective presence at the base of the midfield, having ‘offered Bentancur and Hojbjerg a platform to push on’, before being withdrawn in place of fellow new addition, Richarlison late on.
Having that ability to deploy a different system to what’s become Tottenham’s typical 3-4-3 approach could well be vital for Conte, with the former Inter Milan boss having used that tactic to good effect during his title-winning stint at San Siro.
The £31.5m-rated machine offers a real ball-winning presence in that deeper role having notably recorded the second most tackles in the top flight during the 2020/21 campaign, while he also ranks in the top 10% for interceptions made among those in his position across Europe’s top five leagues.
While the former Lille man had looked somewhat ‘rusty’ at times at the weekend – in the words of Football.London’s Alasdair Gold – that is perhaps to be expected due to his lack of game time, with a more regular role in the coming weeks likely to allow his talents to truly shine.