|DATE||Saturday 7th December 2013|
|VENUE||Stadium of Light|
Having scored three times against Chelsea, Sunderland will have been
massively disappointed not to take any more than a beating out of
Wednesday's game at the Stadium of Light. But that result sums
up the Black Cats' season so far. Some spirited performances,
but lacking the defensive rigidity to keep out the opposition.
Looking shaky every time Chelsea ran the ball at their back four, the diamond formation in midfield seemed to lack the steel to prevent the oppo being on the back four before they knew it. With their goal tally fairly modest until Wednesday, the need to keep goals out is perhaps more demanding than the need to score them. However, sitting bottom two points behind the two teams above them and five behind a place outside the bottom three, perhaps they need to score more too.
With Connor Wickham and Jose Altidore, they have two physically strong strikers who can put the ball in the net, but the number of players who were brought in by former manager Paolo Di Canio has made it difficult for them all to settle quickly. Spurs are having the same problem, so perhaps it doesn't promise to be a great game in store. American Altidore was brought back to England where he had previously failed to impress at Hull City, after a heavy goal-scoring period in Holland. It has been seen before that players who are frequent scorers in the Dutch league often fail to replicate their form in England, so the hulking striker will need to work hard at his game to make sure he makes his mark at Sunderland.
With Wickham out on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, Fabio Borini on loan from Liverpool might feature perhaps playing a withdrawn role, from where he can move forward and score, like he did against Newcastle United (their only other win this season). He has scored a lot playing for Liverpool's Under-21 side, but has not been that effective in the first team, where he has found himself behind Luis Suarez.
However, Tottenham are finding their feet, in a stumbling fashion and have the confidence of two wins and a draw behind them. Sunderland's recent form shows one win (albeit against Manchester City at the Stadium of Light) and two draws in their last ten fixtures. Gus Poyet has taken the reins at the club but has been handed a bit of a poisoned chalice, with Di Canio or the Director of Football's choices forming the squad he has to work with.
While Sunderland have found it hard to come by goals, there is one player who just can't stop hitting the net and that is defender Phil Bardsley. He has been scoring freely at both ends, with a desire to impress the Wearside faithful. After his picture laying on the floor of a casino covered in bank notes, he was on his way out, but he did enough to persuade Di Canio to keep him and then has been doing well under Poyet, but has a habit of beating his own goalkeeper as often as the opposition's !!
Alongside the former Manchester United man in defence are two other ex-Old Trafford men in John O'Shea and Wes Brown. Both could probably be classed as veterans, with pace being their biggest weakness, lacking the speed on the turn too could cost them against the likes of Lennon and Townsend if they run at them. Botha re good in the air at both ends though, but as we rarely threaten in the air, except from set pieces, this may not count for much. Andrea Dossena returns from suspension after a horrible stamp on Hull's Meyler. He seems to think this game will be easy for Sunderland, as Spurs are not as good as Chelsea and we will have to see which Tottenham team turns up to see if he is proved right.
Modiba Diakate and Valentin Roberge
Behind them is former Gooner Vito Mannone, who will only be playing because Kieron Westwood is injured. Having sold Simon Mingolet to Liverpool, this position was always going to be a problematical one to resolve and the experience that Mannone had at Hull will give him some idea of what to expect, but Spurs need to be more ruthless in their finishing, as Chelsea showed at the Stadium of Light in midweek.
The Sunderland midfield contains a mix of foreign and home-grown players. Jack Colback went out on the loan route before breaking into the first team at Sunderland, where has puts in a lot of work and can pick out a killer pass, which is also a talent that Emanuele Giaccherini has, although he also has the ability to finish moves off too. Another who has good movement, he can play in the hole behind a main striker. Former Birmingham City and Aston Villa man Craig Gardner is another hard worker, with a fierce shot and is good from free-kicks, but is another who might suffer at the legs of Townsend's pace (remember he fouled Bale in the box last season and got away with it, as the ref booked Bale). Ki Sung-Kueng is another energetic midfielder, who can play the right sided midfield role, but Adam Johnson is sometimes favoured there, as he has good delivery into the box and can come inside to shoot on his left foot. Seb Larsson is another wide midfielder, who also is deadly from dead-ball situations.
Then there is always Lee Cattermole, when he's not suspended.
Spurs need to carry on their little run and pick up points where they can. With a two pronged pace attack on the flanks, they might find some joy, as it will test the Sunderland defence and pin back their midfield, allowing space for the central midfielders to move forward. This is where they might find most joy and hopefully, Soldado might be able to snaffle something in the box, as the Black Cats defenders had trouble clearing the ball against Chelsea..
Being rock bottom of the Premier League, you would expect this to be a straightforward matter for Spurs to come home with three points, but both sides are much changed from last season, when Tottenham won there, as well as both having a point to prove. The battling spirit under Poyet could well be enough to win a point for the home team, as they nearly did against Chelsea, but Spurs need to start winning these sort of games to edge them up into the top echelons of the table and they are good away from home, so I think that they will just edge to to heap more disappointment on the Black Cat fans.
|PREDICTION||Sunderland 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Christian Eriksen (ankle), Danny Rose (thigh), Harry Kane (back) and Emmanuel Adebayor (knee), while Jan Vertonghen's late ankle injury on Wednesday makes him an absentee. Mousa Dembele might be back after suffering a thigh problem, causing him to miss the Fulham game.
SUNDERLAND TEAM NEWS :
A hip injury keeps defender Carlos Cuellar side-lined, while goalkeeper Kieron Westwood's shoulder problem rules him out of the Spurs match.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
Sunderland 1 (1) Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday 7th December 2013 Kick off 17:30
Stadium of Light
Adam Johnson 37
O'Shea (o.g.) 50
Celustka (foul on Naughton) 39
Altidore (foul on Townsend) 87
|Crowd : 37,963||Weather : Chilly, dry|
|Referee : Lee Mason (Bolton)||Assistant Referees : Mr. S. Long; Mr. D. Eaton|
|Fourth Official : Martin Atkinson||-|
|Sunderland kicked off and played towards the South Stand end in the first half.|
|Sunderland :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
2 Phil BARDSLEY
7 Sebastian LARSSON
18 Jermain DEFOE
|Manager : Gus Poyet||Manager : Andre Villas-Boas|
|Sponsor : Bidvest||Shirt sponsor : Hewlett Packard|
|Kit Supplier : adidas||Kit Supplier : Under Armour|
With the pressure building on Andre Villas-Boas (mainly from outside the club, unless you believe the papers), Spurs looked to add to their recent string of good results at the Stadium of Light and facing old boy Gus Poyet in charge of a team at the bottom of the table, Spurs managed to play well in a 2-1 win, which showed the players giving a gritty performance, but one of control in taking all three points from their trip to the North-East.
Injuries conspired to force
AVB into changes at the back with both Vlad Chiriches and Jan
Vertonghen missing from Wednesday's line-up and Younes Kaboul out
too. The Coach stuck with Defoe up top and brought in Chadli on the
left, with Holtby keeping his place after scoring the late winner at
Sunderland enjoyed a good
passage of possession, but it was all in their own last third and
Spurs were holding onto the ball reasonably well, but looked a
little too content to play flicks and tricks, which handed it to
Sunderland. And there was an interesting change in tactics by
Sunderland in the second half when Spurs were ahead. In the first
period when the home team lead, the ball boys jumped over the
advertising boards and then left the ball and jumped back to their
seats, but when Spurs were winning, they were very quick to get the
ball back to the players in stripes. Cheating ? Well, not really
observing any sort of fair play was it.
So, is it a case of crisis, what crisis ? Or will next week's game against Liverpool at the Lane throw us back into turmoil ?
Stayed tuned for more of the same !!
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
|Match shirt sponsors||-|
|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Crystal Palace||2||Cardiff City||0||Saturday|
|Liverpool||4||West Ham United||1||Saturday|
|Manchester United||0||Newcastle United||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Norwich City||2||Saturday|
|Swansea City||1||Hull City||1||Monday|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||3||6||6||17||21||15||-4|
|17||West Ham United||15||3||4||8||13||19||13||-6|
Position before match : 7th
Position after match : 6th
Position after the weekend : 6th
Back to homepage