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Sunderland v Spurs, 13.09.14


Sunderland scorers:-
Johnson, 4
Kane (o.g.), 82

Spurs scorers:-
Chadli, 2
Eriksen, 48

Attendance:- 40,799

Referee:- Craig Pawson
Assistants:- D Cann & A Holmes
Fourth official:- A Marriner

Sunderland (4-2-3-1):- Mannone; Vergini, Brown, O’Shea (Capt.), Van Aanholt; Larsson (sub Giaccherini, 65), Cattermole; Alvarez (sub Buckley, 65), Rodwell (sub Jordi Gomez, 80), Johnson; Wickham

Subs not used:- Pantilimon; Jones, Bridcutt; Altidore

Booked:- Van Aanholt (foul), Vergini (foul), Wickham (foul on Rose), Jordi Gomez (foul on Lamela), Brown (foul on Lamela)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Dier, Kaboul (Capt.), Chiriches, Rose; Capoue, Dembele; Lamela, Eriksen (sub Lennon, 86), Chadli (sub Stambouli, 70); Adebayor (sub Kane, 79)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Naughton, Fazio; Townsend

Booked:- Dier (foul)

Giving two points away

Both sides were given plaudits for a pulsating game of football, and Spurs were given praise by Sunderland manager (and a former Spur) Gus Poyet, amongst others. Spurs had enjoyed 71% of the possession in the first half, and 63% overall. They had more than twice as many shots than did the home team, and more than the same ratio of shots on target. Spurs attacked in wave after wave of Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1 formation, which moves up the pitch in an enclosing crab-like style, but too often lacked the pincer to provide the killer touch. Having taken an early lead after a drawn first half, there looked like being only one winner, but much as we wanted that two goal cushion, it became elusive, and ultimately, as we have so often seen, Spurs paid the penalty, with a soft own goal to give away two points.

The game had started with gusto, with Nacer Chadli giving Spurs a second minute lead with his third goal of the season. Sadly, Sunderland were allowed to reply almost immediately with Adam Johnson’s deflected shot beating Hugo Lloris and a lunging defence.

Pochettino had made two changes with Vlad Chiriches replacing the absent Vertonghen, who presumably has suffered a knock on International duty. Mousa Dembele replaced Nabil Bentaleb, who was also absent following International duty. Our latest signings Federico Fazio and Benjamin Stambouli had to settle for a place on the bench. Stambouli replaced Chadli and played 20 minutes next to Capoue, with Dembele moving forward.

Sadly, I felt that each of our substitutions weakened our side today. When Dembele moved forward, he did not have the same influence upon the game, as he had previously. I felt that he had a very good game, managing to win and hold the ball in the tightest of situations, and tooffer a probing pass. Eriksen had been the driving force at the centre of that Spurs formation, and was missed when Lennon replaced him late on. Harry Kane had the misfortune to score that own goal, and replaced a tiring Adebayor, lacking the same strength and holding ability of Spurs’ first choice striker.

Gus Poyet introduced Ricky Alvarez, signed on loan from Inter, and he played on the right of the midfield three with Rodwell in the middle, and Johnson on the left. Larsson supported Cattermole in front of the defence, and it is surprising to report that Cattermole was not one of the five Sunderland players booked in their desperation to prevent Spurs taking a late lead in the game. Referee Craig Pawson had kept his cards in his pocket for an hour, and ironically it was Eric Dier who went into the book first. Mr. Pawson turned down at least two good penalty appeals by Spurs, and seemed to ignore several other blatant fouls, and even a handball or two. Most of his leniency was in favour of the home side.

Erik Lamela’s role in the midfield was to play inside, and he never seemed to be too far away from Eriksen. Lamela worked ever so hard, and was treated ever so roughly by the home team. I was looking for a piece of match-winning magic from Lamela, but it never arrived, although it has to be said he was the victim of two late fouls which were punished by yellow cards.

It was a glorious day on Wearside, and I can’t remember watching a match there in shirt sleeves before!

Danny Rose had the more attacking role of the full backs in the first half, and he was in the Sunderland area after only one minute to receive a ball from Eriksen. Rose hit a good shot, well saved by Mannone in the Sunderland goal. Dembele won the ball from Connor Wickham and led another Spurs move, which ended in a chance for Adebayor, when he was blocked. That early lead came in the next wave, when Adebayor’s shot was saved and Chadli followed up to fire home in front of the home fans in the South Stand. This used to be where the away fans were housed, but for at least the third season we are up in Sunderland’s version of “The Gods”, shaded from the sun, with a fine view. Thanks very much Sunderland! The away fans were in excellent voice too.

Almost from the kick off Sunderland equalised, when Johnson was allowed too much room on the left of the Spurs’ box. He twisted left and right, before hitting a shot that was deflected; might had had a touch from Lloris; and finally beat the out-stretched leg of a desperate Spurs defender. That brought on the nearest thing there is these days to the old “Roker Roar”.

By and large though, the home crowd were kept quiet for much of the rest of the first half though. Chiriches seems to have dodgy feet early in every game, but warms to his task as time progresses. He made an error letting in Wickham, but Spurs recovered and again attacked through Adebayor and Chadli, whose shot as deflected out for a corner. Dembele fed Eriksen, whose chipped pass found Adebayor, which led to another corner, from which Kaboul had a shot blocked.

Lamela performed some twisting and turning in close quarters and got the ball to Eriksen in the middle of the 18 yard line, but he could only pass the ball to the keeper. Danny Rose was getting forward again and his cross was well defended by the Sunderland defence. There was askirmish between Rose and Larsson, which led to “words” for Larsson from the referee. Remember, the two players had been team-mates when Rose was on loan here the season before last.

Kaboul was imposing in defence in this half, and had a good win against Larsson down the line. The ball reached Lamela, and there followed some quick passing with Eriksen and Chadli, who got into the box on the left, but could only win a corner. Dembele hit a rocket shot which was blocked, after he had been fed by Adebayor from the right of the box. This might have been the shot from Dembele that hit the post, but the action occured at the far end from my position. Dembele, Eriksen and Chadli were involved in another move, when Chadli entered the box, but could not beat Mannone.

The second goal came within three minutes of the re-start. Eriksen had won a battle for possession about 30 yards out and started a move that passed through Adebayor to Chadli on the left side of the area. Chadli’s shot could not be cleared, and fell to Eriksen to finish from close range near Mannone’s right-hand post. It was a few minutes before the next incident of note, and Spurs happily hogged possession, but failed to penetrate. Eventually, Eriksen did get the ball to the advancing Dier, who went down in the box, and seemed to have a legitimate penalty appeal, which fell on the referee’s deaf ears.

Perhaps it was partly through frustration that Dier became the first into Mr. Pawson’s book soon after, but it is a fact that Spurs were exposed down their flanks where Sunderland sought to advance.

Gus Poyet made an early double substitution, looking for fresh legs and more impetus from his team. He got both. Johnson brought another roar from the home crowd, when he hit a rocket of a shot that had Lloris beaten at his left post. The ball rebounded from behind the goal across the back of the net, and some in the crowd (Me included) thought it had rebounded across goal off the post.

Lamela looked to have been fouled just outside the Sunderland box, but the appeal was waved away, and Spurs faced a threat from the Sunderland counter. After 74 minutes, Lamela hit a shot that might have had a touch from Mannone, but rebounded off the cross bar out of danger. Well, at least Adebayor was unable to take advantage. Adebayor also failed to get a grip of a good ball from Chiriches, who had chipped a cross from the right channel. An Eriksen cross/shot was blocked, then rebounded involuntarily safely into Mannone’s hands.

Now Spurs suffered a little pressure, and they conceded a free kick just outside the area on the Sunderland left flank. The free kick was lifted to the back post, where sadly, Harry Kane dollied a header just inside the post, beyond help from Hugo Lloris. With that wave of fouls, bookings and errant free kicks by Lamela, Spurs never came close to restoring their sadly lost lead, and their sadly conceded two points.

On the plus side, we are still above Arsenal (drew at home to Man City), and Liverpool (lost at home to Villa). Why couldn’t we do a job on Liverpool? Also on the plus side, we did see plenty of very good football from Spurs today, and I think we should go to Belgrade next Thursday in good spirits.

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