FA Cup tie that went into extra time and penalties behind them, the
Sunderland team might be physically worse off that Spurs, but they will
have the boost of actually having won against Blackburn Rovers, albeit
in a shoot-out. Mind you, Spurs will be fighting to put out
their first choice team as injuries have struck again in crucial areas.
The loss of Dean
Richards, Robbie Keane and now Anthony Gardner have been particularly
noticeable and it is hoped that the first two will be available for this
match. However, Sunderland seem to have a worse injury crisis than
Spurs at the moment - hard as that is to believe. They have six
players out ... McAteer (hernia), Reyna (knee), Myhre (thigh), Poom
(back), Piper (flu) and Bjorklund (hamstring).
This has allowed Thomas
Sorensen to return in goal and although he has had a tough time since
he's been back, the three own goals put past him in the last league
match against Charlton didn't help. He is an agile keeper and big
enough to dominate in the box, however, the defence in front of him will
have to work hard to stop the Spurs players getting those efforts in on
goal. Their own forwards have not been scoring many, but the
defence have only West Ham and Bolton as back lines more leaky.
Steven Wright was signed from Liverpool, but you can understand why they
let him go. He lacks the concentration required from a Premiership
defender and although he can be dangerous on the overlap, he does leave
gaps behind him when doing so. With Stanislav Vargas looking at a
move to Celtic, Jody Craddock and Phil Babb have formed the central
defensive partnership. Craddock adds height, but Babb is not
blessed with great pace and Robbie Keane might make his Republic of
Ireland team-mate pay if he makes the match. Michael Gray is
almost a veteran, but isn't that old at 28. He is still a good
user of the ball and Spurs will need to block his passage to the dead
ball line. Julio Arca could come into the picture as he has
recovered from injury and loan signing Talal El Karkouri from Paris St.
Germain might be utilised as a stopper.
The midfield tends to be
quite workmanlike, but the introduction of former Tranmere Rovers
starlet Sean Thornton on Wednesday produced some moments of skill.
Spurs were in for the young Irishman, but he opted for Sunderland and
has just started to get the odd game. Gavin McCann will work hard,
as will Darren Williams or Paul Thirwell, who can scrap in the midfield
area. They have pace on the flanks in the middle of the pitch,
with Kevin Kilbane and the much sought after David Bellion. The
Irishman loves a dribble, while the Frenchman is being touted as the
"new Thierry Henry", with his blistering pace. George
McCartney is a player who has been played in defence, but can also break
things up in midfield.
Kevin Phillips has come
back into a bit of form with six goals in the last twelve games.
Hopefully as he scored on Wednesday, this will be the second of the
"one every two games" he scores in !! Rumours about him
coming to Tottenham were still circulating on the eve of the transfer
window and that has gone quiet now, but should Sunderland be relegated,
then they will be stoked up once again. Although he hasn't had
much action since his move from Ipswich Town, Marcus Stewart is a lively
striker, who has a knack for getting goals. Expect him to appear
on the bench. With Niall Quinn retired, there are fewer options up
front for the Stadium of Light side, but there is one goal-scorer who we
haven't mentioned yet and that is the two goal man from the Charlton
match. Unfortunately, both were in his own net !! Michael
Proctor will be looking to make amends if he does get on the pitch, so
Spurs had better be aware of him in the box ... either one that is !!
Howard Wilkinson has
hardly done much better than Peter Reid, but with time behind him, Reid
thought he couldn't take the team any further and wanted to hand over to
a new face. Well, Sunderland got one of those, but it was an old
one !! Steve Cotterill is highly regarded as one of the new breed
of coaches in the game and he is obviously being groomed to take over
from Wilko at some stage. If they sink to Division One, then he
could be the man to take the helm to try and steer them back up.
The side have been lacking confidence, but that might change now.
However, they are not great on their travels and have only one win at
Leeds, although they have drawn a fair percentage of their away
games. Take away their cup wins and their last three points came
against Liverpool back on Dec. 15th.
While the Black Cats are
bottom of the League, they have one victory over us already this season
and this game will not be a forgone conclusion. They will be
buoyed by the FA Cup result and will be fighting for every point they
can get. A lot depends on who Tottenham are able to put out, but I
predict a narrow win ...
: - Tottenham 1 Sunderland 0
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
|Tottenham 4 Sunderland 1
(Half-time score : 2-1)
|Saturday 8th February 2003
|Venue : - White Hart Lane
|Kick Off : - 15.00 p.m.
|Weather : - Dry, mild
|Referee : - R. Styles
|Crowd : - 36,075
|Teams : -
Tottenham : - Keller; Carr, Taricco, King, Richards;
Bunjevcevic (Freund 77), Anderton, Poyet (Etherington 75), Davies;
Sheringham, Keane (Doherty 21)
Unused subs. : - Sullivan, Acimovic.
: - Sorensen; Wright, Thome (Piper 70), Craddock, McCartney;
Thornton, Arca, Karkouri, McCann (Thirlwell 61); Phillips, Proctor (Flo
Unused subs. : - Macho, Babb
|Colours : -
Tottenham - White shirts, navy blue shorts, white socks with
navy blue turnovers
Sunderland - Light blue
shirts, white shorts, light blue socks
|Scorers : -
Tottenham - Poyet 15, Doherty 45, Davies 68, Sheringham 85
Sunderland - Phillips
|Cards : -
Tottenham - None
(dissent) 39, McCann (foul) 51
|A vintage performance from one of
Tottenham's veterans and a milestone for another marked an
easy-in-the-end victory for Tottenham over rock-bottom Sunderland.
Despite this, Spurs allowed Sunderland to appear everything but an
all-but-relegated side, during a 20 minute spell in the first half.
The threat from the visitors was mainly
powder puff, but there was enough chances for them to enter the
half-time break ahead rather than behind. New Moroccan signing
Karkouri produced an early elaborate overhead kick that carried little
power and Proctor could have nodded the Black Cats ahead from a bouncing
ball into the box, but he lost his bearings and probably didn't know
what to do after scoring two own goals last week !!
Simon Davies had put an early Anderton
cross over the bar with his head, but when along kick downfield by
Keller found it's way to Keane, he passed on to Anderton on the left
side of the area. Just when it looked as thought he scoring chance
had gone, with Anderton choosing not to shoot, he wrapped his left foot
around the ball and squared it for Poyet to sneak in behind the static
defenders and slip it home from close range.
In fact, Gus had an even better chance a
couple of minutes later, when Taricco's pass found the Uruguayan in the
clear and past the defence, but he failed to work out where he was and
with only Sorensen to beat, he put the shot into the side-netting.
It was around this time that Robbie Keane twisted his knee when he tried
to turn and stepped on the ball instead. He soon left the field to
be replaced by Doherty.
Spurs pressed forward and Bunjy hit a
cleared cross on the volley, but it went well wide. Gus was having
a purple patch and it was only the Sunderland keeper's right hand that
stopped him grabbing his second from a powerful header that ended up
being pushed over the bar. Spurs even fancied a goal from the
Dazza-Teddy corner combination, but Ted's shot sailed over the bar.
At this stage Tottenham were dominating
the play, but they suddenly started to sit off Sunderland a bit and this
allowed them to come forward at Spurs. They had already conceded a
silly corner, when a good cross was bent in low by McCann behind the
Lilywhite defence, which stood and watched as Phillips nipped in before
Keller, lobbed the ball up in the air and was first to it, smashing into
an empty net from a yard out. It was a poor goal defensively, but
after that there were few opportunities for Sunderland to add to their
poor away scoring record.
For a while Tottenham struggled to get
any sort of flow going, but eventually they maintained their hold on the
game. Anderton fizzed a long range free kick just over the bar and
Doherty made his presence felt by nodding down in the box to set up
Poyet, but his shot was blocked by a defender. Gus was probably
hoping that a Sunderland defender would put it in for him. Indeed,
Craddock cleared a cross with a header that rocketed past the angle of
his own goal. Last week he would have stuck it away - no problem
!! Bunjy looked like he fancied a goal today and was again left
with a shot, this time from a Deano knock-down, but the Dane in goal,
got down well to it. Just when it looked like Spurs wouldn't be
able to take a lead into half-time, Gary Doherty rose at the far post to
head in Darren Anderton's deep corner past a statuesque Black Cats
defence. While there have been questions asked about his inclusion
as a striker, the Irishman can be useful if you play to his
strengths. He is not the same player as Keane and it should be
realised that that is the case.
With two strikes in the net and Robbie
Keane off the pitch, it was touch and go how Spurs might approach the
second half, with more goals needed to make the three points safe.
Poyet started the second period as he started the first, with a shot
across the Sunderland goal that had Sorensen scurrying to make sure it
wasn't going inside the post. Anderton then produced a great run
on the left to meet Sheringham's pass, but his angled drive just flicked
the keeper's hand before it missed the far post by inches.
The best chance for Spurs to extend their
lead came when freed down the left side of the box, having beaten the
offside trap. Unfortunately, he spent so long looking back for
defenders to catch him, that he forgot where he was and Sorensen came
out at his feet to block his shot. What he should have done was
square the ball to Davies who had broken through with him and was
unmarked five yards out. However, that was on the hour and Spurs
only had to wait a few minutes more before adding to their lead.
Spurs got a free-kick when Thome was adjudged to have pulled Poyet down
and after having his first effort headed out, Anderton played the ball
in low to the edge of the box from a central position. Gus flicked
the ball on for Simon Davies to nutmeg his marker and finish clinically
past the keeper.
Sunderland made a couple of substitutions
to try and shake things up, but Tottenham pressed on. Despite
Thirwell hitting a shot that skimmed the top of the bar from 25 yards,
it was Spurs who finished the stronger. Knocking the ball about
confidently now, they opened the North-Easterners defence up and a
set-up for Steffen Freund almost opened his Tottenham account. His
effort took a huge deflection and again Sorensen had to scramble along
his line to make sure it went wide. There was no respite from the
corner, as Anderton's corner into the heart of the six yard box was met
by Sheringham's head for his 300th career goal. His
T-Shirt message told the story and I am not sure how long he had been
willing to wear it if he hadn't scored today !!
In truth, Tottenham were always a step
above the visitors and it is difficult to see how they lost at the
Stadium of Light. The Black Cats are on such a poor run that you
can't realistically see them getting out of trouble at the bottom of the
League. There were few plus points for them, apart from the keeper
keeping the score down. It is a shame, as they have had some
success in staying in the Premiership, but Wilkinson and Cotterill will
have their hands full in trying to get them back up should they
eventually go down, as seems likely.
As for Tottenham, Richards was outstanding
at the back, Ledley comfortable and Carr back to his best form. In
midfield Simon Davies covered so much ground and took his goal well,
Bunjy had one of his better games and Anderton was instrumental in
setting up the win. Teddy took his goal well, but once again, some
of his fancy flicks didn't work and it looks bad when that
Is Europe a possibility ? Yes, if
Spurs can play like this more often than not, but the other sides might
be a bit more organised than Sunderland, who were all over the place at
times. All Tottenham can do is win the games that they have left.
Not all easy, but they have to have a go.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DEAN RICHARDS
|Tottenham have a horrible habit of
losing games that they should win (see the first match of the season
between these two sides at the Stadium of Light). However, on this
occasion they answered Glenn Hoddle's plea for ruthlessness. Not
that the opposition put up much of a fight.
Spurs started well, but they
could easily have found themselves behind as Proctor almost got on the
scoresheet with a header at the right end !! He completely mis-timed
it and with only Keller to beat, he was not to get a better
chance. Indeed, Gus Poyet had more chances himself than the whole
of the Sunderland side put together. And it was he who tucked away
Darren Anderton's unselfish low ball into the six yard box in the
fifteenth minute. He was twice denied the opportunity to add to
his personal tally, when he dragged one shot wide and another headed
effort was well tipped over by Sorensen.
Just when it looked like
Tottenham might score again, they got pegged back to 1-1, when McCann
slid a cross in behind the defence and in front of Keller, which
Phillips read first. He managed to toe-end the ball up into the
air and while Keller tried to prevent him getting that ball, as it
dropped the Sunderland goal-poacher was left with nothing more than a
tap in to put his side level.
Sunderland had briefly threatened
to take a grip on the game through the poor-man's David Beckham
(look-a-like) Sean Thornton, but the weight he appeared to be carrying
made him fade from the game. His attempt at "Tonight Matthew
I will be ..." was pretty convincing to the point of having a flick
at an Argentinian (Taricco), while on the floor. If only Kim
Nielsen had been refereeing !!
Spurs made heavy weather of the
middle of the first half and had to wait until the final seconds of the
half to regain the lead. It was a straight forward affair, with
Anderton placing a corner to the back post, where Doherty rose unopposed
to head home. Spurs had just about edged the half on chances, if
not possession, but the way they had been lax in letting Sunderland
dictate a period of the match was of concern to Hoddle, who made an
unaccustomed first half appearance on the touchline. Perhaps the
missing John Gorman (replaced on the bench by Calderwood) would have
taken charge, but Hod felt he needed to direct proceedings from down
Sunderland had even fewer chances
in the second half. A Phillips free-kick made Kasey save, while
Thirwell struck a hard shot that hit the bar on the way into the Park
Lane crowd. Apart from that there was little for them to do except
defend. Poyet, Anderton and Doherty all had good efforts on goal
before the third arrived. Doherty's was the clearest and he muffed
his opening with a poor choice of final ball. He tried to shoot
low past Sorensen, when he should have looked up as Simon Davies was
alongside him and unmarked with an open goal in front of him.
It was Davies who got the third,
when Anderton played the ball along the ground to Poyet on the edge of
the area. He touched the ball off the side of his foot to put
Davies in the area, where he nut-megged Craddock, took the ball on one
pace and as the goalie moved to his right, the Welshman stuck it past
his left hand. It was a piece of class from an ever-improving
The day was almost complete, when
Steffen Freund strode forward and hit a shot from outside the box that
caught a Sunderland defender and looked like it was going in. That
was last week's thing and this time, it slipped past the post to the
right. While Freund was convinced his original shot was going to
hit the back of the net, referee Styles indicated to him that it was
going about two yards wide !!
The respite was brief as the
fourth goal came with a few minutes remaining. It was fitting that
it should be Anderton's corner that Teddy headed home past an
unchallenging defence, as Darren has probably made the majority of
Sheringham's 300 goals in his career.
Spurs looked as though they meant
business today, although they went to sleep a bit in the first 45.
To score four with Robbie Keane off injured after 21 minutes and a
makeshift partnership up front of Sheringham and Doherty was a minor
miracle. It is something we have patently failed to do enough of
all season. Perhaps the movement and passing that was exemplified
in this match might be put to more use in others between now and the end
of the season ?
Carr was playing very well with
an attacking bent down the right, while Taz was a bit more withdrawn on
the other side. In the middle King and Richards were back to their
best, but the goal will raise question marks about who is marshalling
the defence and making the decisive move to stop the ball getting to
where it did. I must admit that the presence of Bunjevcevic
puzzles me. What does he do ? He rarely makes a
bone-crunching tackle and although he looks good on the ball, he rarely
makes a killer pass. So Hoddle must think he brings something to
the side. Doherty struggles to play in the style the Spurs fans
want him to, but if Tottenham play to his strengths, he can do a job up
there. Teddy had one of those days. He could have scored
when a defender nodded the ball into his path in the box, but he blazed
over. He did get his goal in the end from his old supplier
Anderton, who had a very good game. Davies was not in the game the
whole time, but when he was in possession, you had the feeling that
something would happen.
While we would like to play
Sunderland every week, it's just not going to happen. But we do
have to play Bolton, Birmingham, Fulham, West Ham, Leeds, West Brom and
Middlesbrough. All occupy the the places above Sunderland at the
moment. Wins in those games would give us a minimum of 63 points
and somewhere around 67 would give us a chance of Europe. It is
not impossible, but needs a consistent effort from the players to get
One thing today's win should
ensure ... that we don't get relegated !!
this weekend :
||West Ham United