Following up a disappointing away start at Middlesbrough, Spurs gave up
three more points to North-East opposition with a naive performance
against Sunderland, who took a 2-1 victory away from White Hart Lane.
Starting once more without Dimitar Berbatov
(this time not even on the bench), Tottenham had little idea how to play
with one man up front. Left with only one recognised striker, it
made things difficult with the midfield not supporting Darren Bent that
well, either with support or supply. Once again, the Lilywhites
dominated possession, but they will have to be more productive at the
scoring end of the pitch if they fail to keep clean sheets at the other
The game started off with a former Spur
hacking down Aaron Lennon. Not Tainio, out injured, nor Chimbonda,
not selected, but Andy Reid. Perhaps jealous of the little man's
pace ? He did the same later in the game and with referee Mike
Dean booking Gareth Bale later for diving, it is a shame that something
is not done about cynical tackles like these to allow players to play
the game without the risk of being blocked or chopped down.
Sunderland were tough throughout and
mostly fair, but Tottenham made things easy for them by playing the
wrong sort of pass to Bent. The first half saw Gordon's goal
rarely threatened and Gomes had a quiet time of it too.
A second minute corner from Bentley went
right across goal with no Spurs player making a move to make contact
with it, then Zokora played a ball into the area with the outside of his
boot, but it lacked accuracy and went over Bent's bonce. Bentley
shot wide when positioned about 25 yards out and quite central, but his
corner in the 17th minute was flicked on by Woodgate and again, it went
too high for Darren to get on the end of.
Gomes took a couple of crosses, with one
ending in treatment after Collins caught him in the face. A
blocked free-kick started a Spurs break and Lennon lead the way forward,
but unfortunately resulted in no clear effort on goal. But six
minutes before the break, the game almost saw it's first goal. The
ball was worked to Steed Malbranque and he let fly from 25 yards out,
beating Gomes' dive, but his drive bounced back out off the post.
Half time saw no changes and the game
restarted with Sunderland winning an early corner this time, but nothing
came from it. The next corner of the game should have seen
Tottenham go ahead, as Bale met Bentley's 49th minute corner with a free
header right in front off goal, but somehow manage to put it over from a
couple of yards out.
Gomes flung himself to his left to block
Murphy's volley and in the next attack Sunderland took the lead. A
poor clearance by King saw the ball drop very invitingly for Richardson,
who struck it instinctively to arrow his shot past the diving Gomes from
just outside the box. The keeper had no chance and it was a goal
out of nothing that looked like one of many last season that were put
Ramos decided to take early action and
brought on Huddlestone and Giovani for Assou-Ekotto and Lennon. It
was a move that saw Tottenham pass the ball better and Malbranque
committed his third poor foul, this time on Modric, before getting a
yellow card. From a free-kick, Bentley put a low ball in and
Gordon saved, but as the ball dropped in front of goal, Woodgate missed
the chance to knock the ball home for the equaliser from close range.
Spurs were in the ascendancy with their
neat passing and for the first time in the game, the movement was making
passes possible. Gordon was brought into action once more in the
64th minute, as Bent was released by Bentley's through pass inside the
box, but he took it a little wide and his angle was tight, although he
still won a corner, as the keeper kicked his shot away. Nothing
came from it and Sunderland made an attacking change, as Djibril Cisse
replaced the goalscorer Richardson.
Substitute Giovani found some space on
the right and dipped a shot over the bar, when he might have been better
advised to fire it across the six yard box, then Jenas ran onto Gomes'
long kick out and got there just before the Sunderland goalie, but
couldn't get it on target having put it over the keeper. It looked
as though Modric was having a bigger influence on the play and some nice
one touch football passed the ball across the pitch and a corner was won
and from it David Bentley's ball went out to Modric and his effort was
blocked. He had more luck in the 73rd minute, when the Croatian's
first shot was blocked, but he followed it up on the edge of the box and
shot again, only to see Gordon parry it. Jermaine Jenas had
continued a run into the penalty area and found the ball in his path to
side foot home to make it 1-1.
Bentley had a shot tipped over by Gordon
before the goal, but kept the pressure on the visitors, when his 77th
minute free kick from the left had to be pushed away for a corner.
From that corner Sunderland broke away and gave Spurs a taste of what
was to come. With seven minutes remaining, Whitehead got Murphy
away on the left. His usual trick is to go one-on-one against
Stalteri, but without him, he took on Zokora and put in a cross that
Gomes came for then went back. He was taken out by the cross and
Cisse jumped higher than the two Spurs defenders to head home a simple
goal from a couple of yards out. It was poor defending by Spurs
and once more, a goal in the closing stages had robbed us of the points.
Not that we would have deserved all three.
Sunderland were worthy winners.
Ramos needs to sort out how the team are
going to play and get the people he needs to do it. Whether that
is with Berbatov or without, I think most Spurs have their own thoughts
on, but whatever way, it needs to be sorted out quickly.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LUKA MODRIC