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Premier League

Saturday 19th January 2008

With a struggle to stay in the Premier League, Sunderland put on a good performance to beat Portsmouth last time out, but there is an away win missing in the column against their name in the league table, which they will be looking to rectify.

It seems a long time ago that they got a last minute winner against us on the opening day of the season, even though it was the early kick off.  Hopefully, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, but there are still issues Tottenham need to resolve and it doesn't necessarily look like it will happen during this transfer window.

Sunderland have a strong ex- Man U contingent.  Kieran Richardson, Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Paul McShane and Liam Miller.  Also coming in on loan until the end of the season has been Jonny Evans, who has a sexual assault allegation hanging over him from the United Christmas party.  Of the others, Yorke now plays a deeper role in midfield, while his former strike partner Cole has been out injured and is now restricted to a substitute's role.

Spurs also have a link to the Sunderland squad, with former reserve keeper Marton Fulop on the bench.  He has been brought back from Leicester City to provide some competition to first choice Craig Gordon, who was signed for big money from Hearts.  A sound keeper, he has produced some good saves, but has been exposed by his defence on occasions.

In front of the keeper, McShane is a whole-hearted central defender and alongside him Nayron Nosworthy has been playing effectively, giving athletic performances for the Black Cats.  Outside them, Evans now features on the right side and on the left, Dean Whitehead has been deployed at left back.  Danny Collins also fits into that slot.

The midfield contains Richardson, who is having a bit of a revival after a tough time on leaving Old Trafford, with two goals last weekend and some good link play.  Liam Miller is the driving force in midfield, while Yorke prompts and pokes his team-mates forward from a deep midfield position and Daryl Murphy looks to get forward to support the front two, who are Anthony Stokes and Kenwyn Jones.

Stokes is a former Gooner, but being an Irishman, he was snapped up by Roy Keane and while a strong runner with the ball, he lacks the necessary pace to trouble the best defenders in the league.  Jones has height to trouble defenders, pace too and has the ability to hold the ball up until recruits appear.  His ability to finish is in contrast to that of Stokes, who scored a lot of goals when on loan in Scotland, but has struggled for Sunderland, netting only once this season.

Other squad players who might be drafted in are strikers Michael Chopra, David Connolly, Roy O'Donovan, with the ex-Newcastle man having the best chance of playing of the three if he overcomes an injury, while Connolly has a good strike rate in the lower divisions, but has struggled in the top flight and O'Donovan has come over from the Irish league; veteran defender Ian Harte (who might be on his way out during the transfer window, along with grey-haired midfielder Graham Kavanagh); they have big hopes for midfielder Grant Leadbitter who has come through the England youth system and looks to be a Roy Keane type player; midfielder Ross Wallace has had a few outings, with some success; another ex-Manchester United player Danny Higginbotham, who has featured in a number of defences since leaving the Old Trafford club.

Keane will frighten his side into playing for him and Spurs will need to battle it out in midfield and use the class of the few individuals in the side to make a difference against Sunderland, but with the team looking more solid with King in defence and if the forwards can click, I think we might witness another home win ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  3    Sunderland  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Anthony Gardner (ankle); Gareth Bale (foot); Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee); Darren Bent (knee);  Didier Zokora (international duty); Steed Malbranque (suspension)

SUNDERLAND :  -  Carlos Edwards (broken leg); Michael Chopra (ankle); Dickson Etuhu (international duty); Grant Leadbitter (toe); Danny Higginbotham (toe)


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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Tottenham Hotspur   2    Sunderland   0       (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 19th January 2008
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,070
Referee :  Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Wet throughout.
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

12 Cerny

  7 Stalteri (  2 Chimbonda 79    )
22 Huddlestone
20 Dawson
  3 YP Lee     

  8 Jenas
17 Boateng
24 O'Hara (  6 Tainio 55)
25 Lennon 

  9 Berbatov
18 Defoe (c) (10 Keane 74  )

Unused subs: 

Sunderland :

  1 Gordon

  5 Nosworthy
44 Evans
  6 McShane     (21 Cole 75)
15  Collins

  8  Whitehead (c)
11 Murphy
12  Miller
19 Yorke

  9  Stokes (16 Chopra 39    )
17 Jones

Unused subs: 
32 Fulop
  3 Harte
23 O'Donovan

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Lennon 2
Keane 90



Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

YP Lee (foul) 60
Chimbonda (foul) 82



McShane (foul) 38
Chopra (foul) 57   


Match Report : -  
The first game of the season's fixtures were repeated this weekend, with Spurs meeting Sunderland in the reverse fixture and inflicted an equally painful late winner on the Black Cats as they did to us back in August.  Robbie Keane's 100th goal for Tottenham earned a 2-0 win which came courtesy of goals which topped and tailed the 90 minutes.

What happened in between is something the score-line does not reveal.

When Jamie O'Hara got the ball from YP Lee on the left wing, it looked like he had lost control and lost the ball, but he harassed McShane, who hit Lee with his clearance and when the ball landed at the midfielder's feet, he put in a low ball into the six yard box in the second minute.  Berbatov got there first, but could only get a touch on it and the ball bounced up towards the far side of the box and Aaron Lennon ran in to get the bottom of his boot to the ball first and poke it past Gordon as he tentatively came out. 

The early goal might have been a vindication of the changes that Ramos introduced.  Resting King at the back and Kaboul being absent, this paired Dawson and Huddlestone in the middle of the back four and Stalteri was brought in against the side he had twice had nightmare games against in recent times !!  Up front, Keane was rested on the bench, while Jermaine Defoe took the captains armband in a rare start. 

It certainly opened up Sunderland, who had Kenwyn Jones up front and the defence coped easily, with Hud having a lot of time on the ball to pick out his pin-point passes from deep in his own half.  The ball was worked wide as often as possible, with Defoe heading O'Hara's cross at the near post straight at Gordon in the seventh minute.  Then Hud's raking pass was nodded up in the air by Collins, but it dropped kindly for Jermain, who hit the shot across goal, with Gordon scrabbling to get back.

When Radek Cerny came and took a cross, then threw the ball out into the path of Aaron Lennon on the right wing, it looked as though he would be away, but as Nosworthy came in for a tackle, he put both feet out in front of him and although he failed to make contact with our winger, he did seem to stop the bal with his hand.  But not according to Mason, the ref, who, in my opinion, was the worst I have seen at the Lane this season ... and there have been some bad 'uns !!  The ball was exchanged to the Spurs end and only an important out-stretched foot by Huddlestone stopped Jones reaching Whitehead's knock-down.  Tommy then did what he does best, by dropping a 70 yard pass right onto the toe of Jermaine Jenas, when it looked like he had over-hit it.  Jenas took it down as the defence stood still and with Gordon diving at his feet, the midfielder lifted it over the goalie and the ball drifted to the left hand post.  Sliding in, Berbatov was just unable to reach the ball, but it was a shot on goal, not a pass, leaving the ball going agonisingly wide.

Cerny's clearance to the left wing was back-heeled into play by O'Hara, who found Dimitar Berbatov.  He knocked it on to Defoe and the pass from the right hand side of the box inside the full back saw Lennon running onto it, playing a low ball across the face of the six yard box.  The ball was blocked by a defender, but it rolled to the far post, where Berbatov hit it first time and the ball pinged off the top of the bar on it's way over.  It was rapidly becoming an action replay of the Reading Cup tie and numerous other games, where the chances kept coming, but were not taken.

Just after the half hour, Boateng and Jenas combined to set up Defoe, but he got the ball stuck under his feet and had to dig out a delicate chip from the edge of the area that Gordon had to leap up to claw away.  Then Berbatov was the recipient of a Huddlestone pass and through the middle, smacked a shot with power as two defenders slid in, but Gordon did well to get something on it to take it over the top.

Roy Keane made a tactical swap on 38 minutes, with Chopra coming on for Stokes, as he tried to get his forwards to shut down Huddlestone on the ball at the back and dent the supply line to our own forwards.  It almost paid off, as the hustling of Hud almost resulted in an error at the back.  The big Spurs man wanted Cerny to come for a through ball, but when he didn't and Tommy nearly trod on the ball, it took a hurried clearance to get the ball away.  When the next corner came in, it was Dawson who made the crucial challenge on Jones, as he was about to shoot.  Then a couple of minutes before the interval, Michael was there again to head away Paul McShane's header from Murphy's free-kick that might have gone in.

But as it was, we reached the halfway point with a 1-0 lead, despite having slaughtered Sunderland.  No changes at the break meant the two sides were the same, but there was a difference in the way they started playing, with Sunderland looking the more hungry to get something from the match.

Two minutes in and this time it was Dawson and Stalteri getting caught up, with Michael's clearance hitting the Canadian and it dropping to Murphy in space.  Luckily, he tried to bend it too much and put the ball wastefully wide, when he should have hit the target at the very least.   The ball was in the Spurs net three minutes later, but luckily for Spurs, the lineman's flag ruled out Jones' shot after a free-kick had been flicked on to him standing in an offside position.  His finish was neat, but from an illegal position.

A low ball across the goal mouth found Chopra a yard short and McShane rose highest to win a header from a free-kick, but couldn't keep it down.  Defoe had a weak shot saved, Boateng cut inside onto his left foot and hit Nosworthy with a 25 yard effort, then Tainio's vision picked out Defoe and as Collins came into tackle, the ball popped up into the air for Berbatov to hit a fierce volley that cannoned off Nosworthy again.  A free kick out on the left wing shortly after nearly caught out the visitors, as Huddlestone fired a low shot in at the near post and as the ball skidded off the wet pitch, Gordon had to push it aside for a corner to make sure it didn't embarrass him. 

Sunderland hit back when a 71st minute run down the right by Jones took him past Huddlestone, but as he pulled the ball back from the by-line, Dawson blocked the cross.  Defoe got the ball at the other end and looked to shoot, with Evans blocking his effort and Berbatov was annoyed his fellow striker didn't lay it off to him.  It was Jermain's last action, as Keane was brought on for him and he took the armband too.

When Roy Keane brought on Andrew Cole for McShane, he threw him up front with Chopra and Jones to put pressure on the Spurs back line, so Ramos countered by bringing on Chimbonda for Stalteri.  The changes almost worked in Sunderland's favour with a corner met unchallenged by Collins at the far post and Cerny did well to scramble it away and lucky that Jones was on the floor and unable to get a decent foot on the ball from there.  Chimbonda struggled against Murphy and was cautioned for a tug on his short as he went past him.

It looked as though the pressure was building on the Tottenham goal and a far post header from Jones was knocked off the line by Dawson, with the ball falling invitingly to Chopra a couple of yards out, but his shot went wide.  Another set-piece had almost lead to another goal against.

The next effort from the Black Cats came when Murphy cut inside and unleashed a low shot that Cerny saved, but fumbled out in front of him, but when Miller hit the rebound at goal, the Czech keeper had recovered for the second save and managed to push it away, with Huddlestone kicking the ball clear.

As the game went into added time, things were extremely nervy in the crowd, as last minute goals have been a trademark of Sunderland's games this season.  Jenas played a neat pass inside the full back for Chimbonda to run onto.  Evans knew he wasn't going to make it and tried to baulk the Spurs man outside the box, missed and then slid in as the full back entered the box, not looking like he was going to get the ball, but the hapless ref, who had earlier got in the way of a Spurs player trying to make a tackle, ruled in Sunderland's favour.  No surprise there.

A minute to go and Cerny launched a long ball up-field to waste time, but as Nosworthy and Evans got underneath the bouncing ball, Keane took the ball down on the edge of the area and fired a low shot on goal.  It was not the most powerfully hit shot Robbie has ever got off, but it bounced just in front of Gordon and coming off the wet surface, it somehow managed to squeeze under the Scot and dribble over the line.  Cue the Keane celebration, brought out of retirement one more time for his 100th Tottenham goal and it gave Spurs the three points more importantly.

It was a weird performance, but having dominated the first half, Spurs let Sunderland back into the match.  Not just by not finishing them off, but also by allowing them space and time to attack us in the second half.  A better team might not have allowed us the luxury of a second goal and if they had, it might have been nothing but a consolation.

While the defence looked better, there is still some way to go, but again, a much changed side did not help the consistency of the performance.  There will no doubt be another different eleven out on Tuesday.

A similar result, although not performance, as that would lead to too much stress for our supporters, would be most welcome.



Reaction : -



Click here for Wyart Lane's view on the Sunderland game on the Times Fanzine Fanzone.









Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 0 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Middlesbrough 1 Saturday
Fulham 0 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Newcastle United 0 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 3 Derby County 1 Saturday
Reading 0 Manchester United 2 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Everton 2 Sunday
Manchester City 1 West Ham United 1 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Aston Villa 2 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 23 17 3 3 46 11 54 +36
2 Arsenal 23 16 6 1 46 17 54 +29
3 Chelsea 23 15 5 3 36 16 50 +20
4 Everton 23 13 3 7 40 23 42 +18
5 Liverpool 22 10 10 2 37 16 40 +21
6 Aston Villa 23 11 7 5 42 30 40 +12
7 Manchester City 23 11 7 5 30 24 40 +6
8 Portsmouth 23 10 7 6 34 23 37 +11
9 Blackburn Rovers 23 10 7 6 31 30 37 +1
10 West Ham United 22 9 6 7 28 21 33 +7
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 23 7 6 10 44 40 27 +4
12 Newcastle United 23 7 6 10 27 39 27 -13
13 Middlesbrough 23 5 7 11 20 37 22 -17
14 Reading 23 6 4 13 30 49 22 -19
15 Bolton Wanderers 23 5 6 12 24 34 21 -10
16 Birmingham City 23 5 5 13 23 34 20 -11
17 Wigan Athletic 22 5 5 13 22 37 20 -15
18 Sunderland 23 5 5 13 22 42 20 -20
19 Fulham 23 2 9 12 23 41 15 -18
20 Derby County 23 1 4 18 11 50 7 -39



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