Brighton are set to host Tottenham Hotspur at the Amex Stadium in the Premier League Boxing Day matchday on Thursday, December 28.
The Seagulls have successfully advanced to the knockout stages of the Europa League, clinching the top spot in their group. Roberto De Zerbi's side find themselves in a tight race for European qualification alongside West Ham, Manchester United, and Newcastle.
Remarkably, this achievement comes despite the persistent injury woes plaguing the club throughout the season. Key players such as Pervis Estupinan, Ansu Fati, Tariq Lamptey, Adam Webster, Julio Enciso, Joel Veltman, and Solly March are currently sidelined.
With a challenging fixture against Spurs on the horizon and a roster limited by injuries, how will De Zerbi structure his lineup?
While maintaining the team's favored 4-2-3-1 formation, the Italian manager faces personnel decisions. Let's explore a couple of potential options and strategies he might consider for the upcoming clash on the south coast.
Image source: Reuters
Three ways Brighton could line up against Tottenham
1. Changes in defense
Brighton grapple with major full-back injuries to Lamptey, Estupinan, and Veltman. De Zerbi, facing creative challenges, opts for James Milner's versatility and introduces young midfielder Jack Hinshelwood at left and right-back.
The formidable center-back duo of Lewis Dunk and Jan Paul van Hecke anchors the defense. Pascal Gross and Billy Gilmour hold the midfield, while Adingra, Buonanotte, and Lallana form the attacking trio. With Mitoma injured, Evan Ferguson leads the frontline, offering Coach De Zerbi flexibility in attacking options.
XI: Verbruggen, Hinshelwood, Dunk, van Hecke, Milner, Gilmour, Gross, Adingra, Buonanotte, Lallana, Ferguson
2. Experienced additions
This starting lineup boasts considerable match experience, featuring 33-year-old Jason Steele in goal. Igor Julio steps in for teenager Jack Hinshelwood at full-back, partnering with Milner, Dunk, and van Hecke in defense.
In the defensive midfield roles, Gilmour and Gross maintain their positions. Adam Lallana joins them in an advanced role to counter the threat posed by the impressive Pape Matar Sarr.
Returning from a recent muscle injury, Danny Welbeck is reintroduced in the forward line. The former Arsenal and Manchester United forward, with six goals and six assists in 22 career appearances against Spurs, brings his attacking prowess to the lineup.
XI: Steele, Milner, Dunk, van Hecke, Igor, Gilmour, Gross, Adingra, Lallana, Buonanotte, Welbeck.
3. Midfield moves
De Zerbi's clear favorites for the defensive midfield roles are typically Billy Gilmour and Pascal Gross. However, in this particular XI, the nod goes to Carlos Baleba and Mahmoud Dahoud, a duo that previously partnered each other in Brighton's recent 1-1 home draw against Burnley.
The adjustments extend further up the pitch, as Joao Pedro, the leading scorer for Brighton this season, transitions into a midfield role. Additionally, Evan Ferguson takes on the responsibility of being the team's center-forward in this lineup.
XI: Verbruggen, Milner, Dunk, van Hecke, Igor, Baleba, Dahoud, Adingra, Pedro, Buonanotte, Ferguson.