Review: Sunderland no match for classy Spurs

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Tottenham were back to winning ways today as an initially tricky tie against relegation battlers Sunderland turned into a comfortable win. It was a day to forget for Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce, who was to blame for his side’s loss due to questionable substitutions and tactical changes. Let’s take a look back on the action.

The game started in similar fashion to the Leicester clash. All the early running, possession, and chances were in Tottenham’s favour. Tottenham were looking dispel the chattering from other fans and pundits that the old Spurs were back after a disappointing home loss to Leicester. The home side set about this by peppering Premier League debutant Jordan Pickford’s goal. The youngster was impressive however, finding himself equal to efforts from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane.

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The ugly head of Spurs past reared its head again however. After dominating the game it was the Wearside club that took the lead. Adam Johnson slipped in a perfectly weighted pass down the left channel to on-rushing full-back Patrick Van Aanholt. The Dutchman made no mistake and drilled a low shot passed Hugo Lloris. A collective groan rippled throughout the entire Tottenham fan base, as thoughts of another mid-season capitulation after another promising start began to form. However this is a Spurs side that has reacted well to defeat so far this season, and it was a mere 21 seconds before Eriksen took advantage of some calamitous defending from Sunderland skipper Lee Cattermole to level the scores again. The Dane is starting to rediscover his form, and the Nordic playmakers goals could prove crucial come the end of the season.

The second half started in much the same way as the first. Sunderland were tight and compact, leaving little space for likes of Alli, Eriksen and Lamela to work openings. Just after the 50th minute however, Allardyce ironically lost his bottle, after criticising Spurs for just that in the lead up to the game. He replaced his captain Cattermole, who had been effective in shutting off space for Tottenham to work in for the more expansive Rodwell. Suddenly space started to appear, seemingly realising his error Big Sam tried to rectify by replacing forward Danny Graham with debutant Jan Kirchoff, as Sunderland switched to three at the back. It proved to be a costly error for Allardyce, whose changes left Sunderland confused and shapeless.

It wasn’t long before Spurs capitalised. The returning Dembele, who once again was a colossus for Tottenham in the middle of the park, reacted quickest from a Pickford save after an effort from a corner, shifting it onto his left-foot before finishing at the near post. This was the Belgian’s 4th of the season, his best tally already in a Spurs shirt.

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Spurs continued to apply the pressure, intent on writing the wrong of last week, and to continue to shake off the tag of “same old Spurs”. It wasn’t long again before this pressure paid off. Sunderland’s new German Kirchoff seemed confused and clumsy, struggling to get close to any Tottenham forward. It was Eriksen again who benefited from this. Picking up the ball in a pocket of space that Cattermole would have been occupying had he not been bizarrely taken off, the Spurs No.23 struck a left footed drive that deflected off the labouring Kirchoff and over the head of Pickford for 3-1.

The fourth came when the excellent Danny Rose advanced into the Sunderland box before a sharp turn completely fooled Kirchoff, who took the Tottenham left backs legs out from under him. The big German was signed from Bayern Munich, and how we ever on the Bundesliga giants book in the first place is a mystery based on this performance. Harry Kane duly stepped up and rifled home the penalty for his 15th of the season.

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This was good response from a Tottenham side that had to endure some somewhat unfair criticism in the past week. This is a side full of young, hungry players, who have responded to defeat well this season. They were helped in part today by a manager who’s arrogance cost his team, but another convincing win shows that Spurs are still very much a force to be reckoned with this season.

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By Josh Smith

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