Saturday 3rd December 2005
just one win all season so far and a lowly total fo five points,
Sunderland reach White Hart Lane looking for some shelter in the
wintry chill. Perhaps THFC might not be so charitable this time
around, as in previous years, they could be relied on to give succour
to any down and out who stumbled along with a terrible list of
results. A more hard-bitten approach has taken precedent these
The make-up of the Sunderland side has been disrupted by injuries this season and the large number o of players coming into the squad in the summer to boost the ability to stay up was nto of the highest quality, thus leaving the team a difficult task to compete.
Kelvin Davies excelled in the Championship with Ipswich and is a good keeper, but a few horrendous performances have seen him overlooked with Ben Alnwick coming in even though he is just 18. It has been a tough baptism for him, with Arsenal and Liverpool seeing off the Black Cats in recent weeks, but he will learn quickly.
The defence has been leaking goals with 30 in their 15 games so far. Loan Gooner Justin Hoyte has been a regular and looks a decent player, but he is still feeling his way at the top level, having had little experience at Lowbury and with Stephen Wright out injured, the defence has seen Steve Caldwell take the other full back role, when Nyron Nosworthy hasn't been there. George McCartney has had Premiership experience last tiome Sunderland were there, even though it might nto be a pleasant memory, but his long term hamstring injury has robbed the side of an older head. Two old heads are still there though, with Gary Breen and Alan Stubbs partners in central defence, where they use their knowledge and their heads, but lack pace. Danny Collins has come in recently, but I do not know much about him. Julio Arca looks the best Sunderland player by a country mile. His South American skill has demonstrated itself from open play on the wing and also from dead ball situations.
Nosworthy was looked at by Tottenham a few seasons back when he was a promising youngster, but he lacks the finesse and nous to know where he has to be to make it in the top flight at the moment. Being utilised in midfield makes things worse for him, as the ball pings around him. At least in defence, the ball comes to him rather than around him. French midfielder Christian Basillas is a classy operator, but gets little opportunity to show it and he fades out of the game quite quickly and alongside him Liam Lawrence is a fan's favourite, but that might have more to do with his dyed blonde hairdo rather than his ability with the ball. Andrew Welsh looks out of his depth in the games I have seen him play on TV. Sent off and lacking the reading of the game to pick up it's pace, he looks like a fish out of water, while Tommy Miller has made the step up from Ipswich with forceful running from midfield, although, again, he has not been as effective as he was at his previous club.
Dean Whitehead is listed as an attacking midfielder, but quite often is ahead of the forwards, so might be a threat on goal if Sunderland get their game going. A strong runner with the ball, he also has a good sense of position as to where the goal is and he has scored some of the few goals Sunderland have got. Great hopes were had of Stephen Elliot, but his injury has held him back, although another nippy player who can hit the target unerringly. Jon Stead came in from Blackburn, having been unable to maintain the reputation he arrived at Ewood Park with and his form has shown him to be lacking confidence here too. Tall and possessing a turn of pace, he lacks the strength to hold off Premiership defenders. Anthony Le Tallec is the opposite and his time at Liverpool has given him the poise and determination to do well. He could give Spurs problems, but on his own, he will have a tricky time trying to make something happen alone. In the absence of the big Scotsman Kevin Kyle, Sunderland brought in Sheffield United's Andy Gray, who was a useful scorer in the Championship. His movement and power were put to good use there, but with defenders up against him who have a bit more savvy, he has also found the upgrade to the PL a hard one to assimilate.
Spurs will set out to push hard for the opening passage of the game, so need to make sure they do not leave themselves open to a counter attack, as Sunderland will look to play that way. With the range of midfielders available to Spurs, they should dominate this area of the game and get plenty of supply into Mido and Defoe, who I believe will start ... and get a goal to kick start a revival for the little striker. Wayne Routledge's presence will also be made to count and his running with and off the ball can unsettle any side with Sunderland being cut open with his pace. All in all, it should be a comfortable afternoon for Tottenham ...
PREDICTION : - Tottenham Hotspur 3 Sunderland 0
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Mounir El Hamdaoui (shoulder); Dean Marney (Achilles); Goran Bunjevcevic (broken toe); - (-);
SUNDERLAND : Stephen Elliot (back); Billy Dennehy (ankle); Matt Piper (ankle); Kevin Kyle (hip); Colin Healy (knee); George McCartney (hamstring); - (-); - (-)
available on BBC radio, it can be heard in these countries on these
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 Sunderland 2 (Half-time score : 1-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : White Hart Lane|
|Saturday 3rd December 2005||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 36,244||Referee : Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)|
|Weather : Cold, rain before the game|
|Teams : -|
Jenas (Lennon 63)
Stead (Le Tallec 54)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
|Cards : -|
|Match Report : -|
Back in the day, it would have been a lack of points that caused us to moan on our way out of the ground, but these days it is the minutiae that take our attention as we dissect the way Spurs have beaten Sunderland 3-2. The two goals conceded were the main talking points that vexed the Tottenham supporters as Arsenal lost and our team finished the day in fourth place in the Premiership.
With Sunderland patently out of their depth in the PL, they were lambs delivered to White Hart Lane for the slaughter. As often happens, the script was not followed word for word by our guests and they took the lead after 16 minutes. A bump into Dawson by Stead brought an unnecessary whistle from referee Walton and a free-kick, placed centrally, was awarded 25 yards out. Up stepped Whitehead and curled a shot into the top right hand corner of Robinson's goal that was well out of his reach.
Before this, there had been some old fashioned scrambling in front of the Sunderland goal, with rebounds and ricochets leaving desperate clearances pinging around the Black Cats' box, but they managed to hack clear in the end. Keano missed a pull back by Mido and the Egyptian headed over a cross from the hard-working Tainio. It looked like the missed opportunities might end up costing us once more, even more so when Keane got the ball caught up under his feet when going to hit Lee's low cross and the chance went begging.
It was apparent that Spurs were going to have plenty of possession, with the final stats showing 61%, but the ability to break down a massed Sunderland defence was proving problematical. Spurs were having to get players out wide, with neither Davids or Tainio natural wingers and Lee and Stalteri not delivering the quality of cross required when they got forward. Jenas had a disappointing game, being caught on the ball often and lacking sustained involvement in the play.
In the 37th minute, a neat build up on the right ended with a Spurs equaliser. A great reverse pass by Stalteri played in Keane on the right of the area, where he hit a low ball across the face of goal for Mido to slide in at the far post to record his sixth Premiership goal of the season with a shot into the roof of the net. It was a simply created goal and one Spurs might have learned from, because up to this point they seemed determined to walk the ball into the net.
The tall striker headed over from a Carrick corner shortly afterwards, but he might have done better, then Robbie Keane was played in on the right side again from where he produced a chip that Alnwick managed to save. Sunderland's lack of cutting edge and poor passing was allowing Tottenham's generosity with the ball to go unpunished, so when the teams ended the first half all square, the score did not reflect either side's performance.
The second half started with Spurs taking the lead after five minutes had elapsed. A long ball through was flicked on by Mido's head and Keane ran on as Alnwick and Collins dithered with the ball between them. As Robbie fell, the ball squirted off towards goal and a hand going down to stop his fall appeared to propel the ball into the goal. Scrappy it was, but the lack of communication between the young Sunderland keeper and his defence was evident with neither making a positive move to the ball on more than one occasion. It is a shame that Tottenham failed to test the abilities of the keeper on more occasions, as he looked lacking in confidence throughout the match.
The lead lasted only nine minutes in all, with the substitute Le Tallec coming on after Keane's goal pulling it back to 2-2. Gray was continually pulling King's shirt off his back, with the match official refusing to give anything against him while having a clear view almost every time it happened. So, when Gray backed into King again and the ball dropped on the edge of the box, the French striker on loan from Liverpool swept it low past Robbo's dive.
The way this game was going, it was straight up the other end and Paul Stalteri knocked a waist high ball into the penalty area, where Teemu Tainio dived to head the ball against the far post. For his performance, the Finn deserved a goal and when a free-kick was touched square to him, his shot was charged down and got a deflection wide. Spurs pressed forwards and Sunderland could not break the flow of the game, as the ball kept being turned over to the home side. With Aaron Lennon on to add pace and width to the right hand side, Spurs started making more of the ball.
When it was played to Robbie on the edge of the area, the Irishman flicked the ball up to get past Breen, but the Sunderland captain held his arm taught at his side and the ref gave a penalty. Keano decided to take it himself, despite Davids demanding the ball, Robbie took the spot-kick and put it to the keeper's right, only to see Alnwick guess correctly and push the ball wide. Once more Spurs failed to take the luck that came their way at last.
Another attack saw Mido play the ball wide and Lennon hit the ball into the near post, where it bounced off a defender and dropped to Dawson, who's effort on goal was blocked and went into the side netting. Jermain Defoe came on to replace Keane after 74 minutes and three minutes, Spurs took the lead for the second time in the match. A corner came in and when cleared to Tainio outside the box, he hooked it wide to Carrick near the corner of the area. The England midfielder took the ball on, as there was no defender near him and looking up, he stroked a left foot shot that went across the keeper and past two defenders on the line to enter the net via the foot of the far post. He enjoyed his first goal for the club and raced across to the West Stand to celebrate.
There were other incidents of note before the final whistle. Sunderland looked stunned when Carrick's goal went in and their reaction at the end of the match, with players standing hands on thighs, heads hung low, made it seem like they had lost a cup final or had resigned themselves to relegation.
For Spurs, Tainio turned in a man of the match performance with tackling, movement and no mean skill on the ball. If only his header had been a foot inside the post, he would have had a dream match. Lennon seemed to pick the side up when he made his entrance, running the right hand line and putting some good supply into the area, while Dawson was excellent once more. The team seem to be coming on nicely and the resilience to earn points from games like this where one time they would have gone under means that they might look forward with confidence, but not over-confidence to the programme up until Christmas.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - TEEMU TAINIO
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Newcastle United||1||Aston Villa||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||0||Fulham||0||Saturday|
|Charlton Athletic||2||Manchester City||5||Sunday|
|Birmingham City||1||West Ham United||2||Sunday|
|9||West Ham United||13||5||3||4||17||13||19||+4|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||15||3||4||8||15||24||13||-9|
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