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Sunderland v Spurs, 07.12.13

(5.30 PM)

Sunderland scorer:-
Johnson, 37

Spurs scorers:-
Paulinho, 43
O’Shea, 50 (own goal)

Attendance:- 37,963

Referee:- Lee Mason
Assistants:- Mr. S. Long & Mr. D. Eaton
Fourth official:- Martin Atkinson

Sunderland (4-1-4-1):- Mannone; Celustka (sub Giaccherini, 77), O’Shea (Capt.), Brown, Bardsley; Ki Sung-Yeung; Larsson, Altidore, Colback (sub Cattermole, 67), Johnson (sub Borini, 67); Fletcher

Subs not used:- Pickford; Dossena, Diakite, Gardner

Booked:- Celustka (foul on Naughton), Altidore (foul on Townsend)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Capoue, Dawson (Capt.), Naughton; Paulinho, Dembele (sub Sandro, 73); Lennon, Holtby (sub Townsend, 79), Chadli (sub Sigurdsson, 84); Defoe

Subs not used:- Friedel; Fryers; Lamela; Soldado

No bookings

Spurs end a good week on a high

After a depressing spell without a league win in four games, Spurs finished a good week, in which they have collected 7 points, with their second away win in four days. It should have been a more convincing win, with Jermain Defoe hitting the post twice, and other great opportunities going begging, but there was enough good football played today to convince me that Spurs have turned a corner, and that they can be optimistic about the games to come.

Andre Villas-Boas has used his squad well today. The need to replace Vertonghen was forced upon him due to injury (I believe Vertonghen tweeted “COYS” from in front of his TV screen today), and Kyle Naughton filled the left back slot more than adequately. In addition, there was a late injury to Vlad Chiriches, and today we found Etienne Capoue stepping in as the right-side centre back, with Michael Dawson moving to his left. Paulinho stepped back to partner Dembele, but at times, both played an attacking role, and both ended up either scoring or creating Spurs’ goals.

Aaron Lennon carried on where he left off on the right wing today, with Lewis Holtby starting in the middle and Nacer Chadli on the left. Whilst he didn’t score, Jermain Defoe was one of those who played a full part in some good skilful short passing forward-moving football by Spurs, which should have yielded a higher return in goals.

There were other impressive performances out there for Spurs today. In my opinion, the best of all came from Kyle Walker, whose effort, physical application and determination in defensive situations, and his contribution to the attack was absolutely relentless and effective. I thought that Capoue did well in a new position for a player we have usually only seen on the left side for Spurs, although he also recently played in one of the two defensive midfield positions.

Bearing in mind that our two record highest valued signings were left un-used on the bench, you have an idea of the scale of resources at AVB’s disposal.

Due to our high position in the Strongbow North Stand, and the fact that Sunderland do not have patches on their striped shirts to assist in distinguishing numbers, it was very difficult for this observer to identify players accurately. Mind you, the Spurs light blue strip (as worn on Wednesday night at Craven Cottage) is also difficult, and we debated whether it was Chadli or Dembele who made the run which led to Spurs’ second goal. (It was Dembele)

Spurs played towards their fans in the first half, and nearly forged a great chance after 3 minutes, following good football by Chadli, Defoe and Naughton on the left side. Finally, Holtby tried to thread a ball to Dembele, but it was well blocked by Sunderland’s defence. Paulinho sent a ball to Lennon on the right after 11 minutes, and Walker got ahead of his right wing partner, sending in a cross which was met by Paulinho, whose shot was not at all far over the goal.

Sunderland had a chance, when Fletcher beat the offside flag, but hit a shot from the left side across Lloris’s goal past his left post. Gus Poyet’s line-up looked like a 4-1-4-1, with Ki Sung –Yeung in front of the defence, but from the midfield four, Colback would fall back when defending, whilst both he and Altidore moved forward in attack. Poyet’s intention therefore was to have fluidity, but Spurs managed to out-number their opponents too often in important situations and positions.

Defoe touched the ball to Holtby, who hit a right foot shot which was saved at the left post by Mannone, at the expense of a corner for Spurs. Sunderland had a chance after 18 minutes, after Spurs lost a midfield battle. Altidore fed the ball to Colback who missed from the left side of goal.

Spurs won a corner at the other end, after good work from Aaron Lennon, and from the corner, Paulinho had an effort deflected for another corner. Naughton, Holtby and Chadli had again been involved in a good passing move for Tottenham. Dembele fed a shot ball into the Sunderland area for Holtby, who pulled his left footed shot wide of the goalkeeper’s left post.

Referee Lee Mason spent a little while addressing Altidore and Walker, who had some altercation down the line. Mr. Mason was the butt of abuse from both sets of fans at times, when he sometimes ignored obvious offences. In the second half, local reporters say that Spurs were lucky not to concede a penalty when substitute Sandro’s arm made contact with a corner, but I also saw blatant omissions by the referee regarding fouls on Spurs players. One of these late in the game might have been expensive for Spurs, when Capoue was clearly held back by his arm, before Sunderland crossed and might have got an equaliser.

After 32 minutes, Spurs won another corner following a nice run by Walker, and a pass by Holtby to Paulinho, who won another corner. From this corner, Chadli’s header landed on top of the net. After some of that lovely one-touch passing play by Spurs, Jermain Defoe did manage a shot on target, which was blocked for a corner. Defoe seemed to be pulled down in the area after this, but Mr. Mason ignored appeals for a penalty. Holtby was next to try his hand, or should I say foot, with a shot that was deflected into the goalkeeper’s arms.

Hugo Lloris will not win man of the match for this game, after he made the gross error in failing to hold right back Celustka’s cross, which was gratefully fired home by Adam Johnson.

It wasn’t long before Celustka got the first booking of the night for a cynical foul on Naughton in the Spurs half. Spurs got back on level terms after Colback halted Lennon in his tracks unfairly. Walker stepped up to float the kick to the back post, where Chadli headed it into the goalmouth, and Paulinho stabbed home with his out-stretched foot, literally through the keeper’s legs.

Celustka had an effort saved at the other end after Altidore’s pass. At the other end, Dembele was away on a trademark run feeding Paulinho, whose shot was deflected. Another header landed on the net.

Spurs took the lead within five minutes of the re-start. Dembele had started the move from his own half, and then ran forward to collect a midfield pass by Naughton. Dembele made a run down the left channel, then cut inside for goal, hitting a low cross which Sunderland skipper John O’Shea diverted pas Mannone’s right arm into the net.

Spurs now took control of the game, and dominated possession, creating several chances and opportunities, none of which were converted. First Holtby was teed up by Walker, but his left foot shot went for a corner. Another great Walker cross was aimed for Holtby, but well defended again, before Holtby had yet another effort deflected for a corner. Walker and Lennon combined down the right before Lennon’s chipped cross from the bye-line was headed onto the near post by Jermain Defoe.

Holtby threaded a great ball through the defence, and for once, Defoe was not offside and perhaps could not believe he was in the clear. He wasted his chance really, firing wide of the keeper’s right post across the goalmouth. After a round of substitutions by both sides, including Sandro for the tiring Dembele, Lennon, Defoe and Holtby worked together to create another chance for Holtby, whose shot was held by Mannone. Holtby was soon to be replaced by Townsend, who worked down the left flank. Chadli took over in the middle, before he too was replaced by Sigurdsson.

Almost as soon as he came on, Townsend got away down that left flank, and crossed to Defoe, who hit the other post, this time with a left foot shot. Spurs unfortunately now showed a tendency to fall back, and allow a desperate Sunderland to come onto them. Substitute Borini brought a good save from Lloris spotting a shot that came through a sea of legs. Paulinho headed over another Townsend cross, before Altidore got a well deserved yellow card for stopping Townsend breaking clear into the Sunderland half.

We had to endure 5 minutes of added time when neither trainer had been on the field of play, but as that time progressed, Spurs had the better chance. Defoe passed inside to Townsend, who was on the edge of the box, hitting a shot which Mannone managed to tip over.

Spurs have not been able to improve their position in the table, due to their negative goal difference, but with Man Utd losing a second consecutive league game for the first time in 10 years (both at home0, we are 5 points ahead of them in 9th place. Man City could only draw at Sunderland and Everton play Arsenal tomorrow, so points must be lost by one or both of those teams.

It’s up to Spurs now to make the best of their league comeback. AVB can hopefully rest a few more key players on Thursday night in the dead rubber game against Anzhi, but he will need his very best next Sunday against Liverpool and Luis Suarez. I am really looking forward to that game!

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