Albion 1, Spurs 2

If only Albion could play Manchester United every week.

It would cut out the first half malaise which is leaving them with too much to do.

Going in at the interval in a healthy position, or at least on terms, has become a rarity for Chris Hughton's team.

They have only been ahead or level at the midway point in their last nine Premier League games against United.

On five out of six occasions this season the Seagulls have been playing catch-up, trailing 1-0 at the break.

Attempting to become the first side in Premier League history to retrieve two-goal comebacks in three successive games, following the recoveries against Fulham and Southampton, proved beyond them.

Although if Anthony Knockaert (below) had shown as much conviction with the shooting chance he had with virtually the last kick as when he halved the deficit in stoppage time, we could now be reflecting on an outrageous about-turn.

The Argus: Altering the first half pattern does not require recklessness of the kind Danny Murphy advocated on Match Of The Day.

It is very easy to pontificate from a studio that Albion should have been pressing high straight from the kick-off and showing more intensity to rattle a Tottenham team on the back of three straight defeats.

Easier said than done. Let's not forget, those setbacks came against high quality opposition in Inter Milan, Liverpool and even Watford, given their surprising start.

Tottenham's decisive second goal had its origins in beating Albion's press deep inside their own territory.

There was nothing wrong with the first half tactics. For all that Tottenham dominated possession, they probed without any tempo and fashioned very little in open play.

The Argus: The only time Mathew Ryan was tested came via Albion's Achilles heel defending corners, when the Australian somehow kept out Toby Alderweireld's header (above).

The Seagulls were also disrupted by losing midfield protector Dale Stephens midway through the first half, which prompted a reshuffle.

Their first half display fell short because they did not get bodies forward enough quickly enough when they had opportunities to counter and because they gifted Tottenham the lead.

On one occasion in the opening 45 minutes, Knockaert, easily Albion's most effective attacker, launched a responsive raid down the right.

There were five Spurs players tracking back inside their own half, not one team-mate in support of the willing Frenchman.

Even after the break, when Albion were much-improved as the midfielders engaged more and broke into more advanced positions, Solly March in one instance had nobody to cross to inside the box.

A goalless first half would have been satisfactory. Instead, Tottenham led through Harry Kane's penalty (below), the fifth awarded in Albion's last three games.

The Argus: It was correctly awarded by referee Chris Kavanagh against Glenn Murray for blocking Kieran Trippier's free-kick in the defensive wall with an outstretched arm.

Chris Hughton's complaint was not about the penalty but the free-kick, given against Gaetan Bong for a foul on Kane.

Both that and claims that Albion should have been awarded a second half penalty for Eric Dier dragging down Lewis Dunk from a corner felt like wishful thinking.

Bong clipped Kane before he eventually went down, while the Dier-Dunk tussle was more a case of six of one, half-a-dozen of the other.

The manner of Tottenham's breakthrough was a key shift, as was an opportunity squandered by Knockaert to restore parity during Albion's best period in the second half.

Set up by Stephens' stand-in Beram Kayal, he shot tamely from point blank range straight at Argentinian third-choice Paulo Gazzaniga, deputising for the injured Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm.

Hughton said, with some justification: "I think if that goes in it's a different scoreline. At that stage we have got the momentum. We concede the second goal because we are chasing to get back in the game, that's what happens.

"At 1-1 I think we could have had the momentum to not press in desperation in areas that you know they are going to play around you."

The Argus: That is what happened when Tottenham maneuvered themselves out of their own half with a sweeping, crossfield retort which ended with substitute Erik Lamela (above left) tucking away his fourth goal in as many appearances from Danny Rose's cross (above right).

Knockaert's first goal of the campaign, to mark his 100th start for the club after three assists and his powerful revelations about suffering from depression last season, was sweetly taken.

His angled, left-foot drive into the corner actually took Albion above Southampton on goals scored, despite the result.

Together with three further saves from Ryan which foiled Kane when Spurs were 2-0 up, such details may seem innocuous now but could count for a lot further down the line when safety margins can be so tight.

The nature of the contest emphasised how much Albion miss their cunning link man, Pascal Gross. Even if the German and Stephens were available, Manchester City away would be a daunting examination.

Give the champions a first half start and that well-managed goal difference could take a hammering.