Wednesday 19th September 2001
Sunderland having started in a reasonably impressive manner with eight
points so far and could go joint top if they win this game.
However, all the additions to their squad have been negated by some
sales made by manager Peter Reid over the last couple of weeks.
In goal, Thomas Sorensen has suffered a broken nose and will be missing for this match, his place being filled by the magnificently named Jurgen Macho. He turned in a good performance against Villa on Sunday and may be a formidable obstacle to Spurs getting anything from the game.
Emerson Thome has a knee injury that will rule him out of the Spurs clash, but giant Slovenian Stanislav Varga could be in with a chance of a starting place to stop any aerial threat. Youngster George McCartney has broken through this season and played for the Northern Ireland side, so he can do a good job, but Spurs could play on him as the weak link in the back four if he starts. Jody Craddock is also a tall figure and could link up with McCartney to counter Les' ability in the air. On the flanks, the most likely to play are the flying Arca from Argentina (a Taricco style player), who looks fine going forward (and very good from free-kicks), but dodgy defensively. Michael Gray will play as the other attacking wing back, although the equally marvellously named Bernt Haas might get his bum of the bench.
In midfield, the Black Cats are missing the presence of Don Hutchinson, who has rejoined West Ham and the "physical" Alex Rae, who was last seen against Spurs getting sent off by elbowing David Ginola in the face. That leaves them with the creativity to come from Kevin Kilbane, with the work done by Stefan Schwarz, Darren Williams and Gavin McCann. Spurs will have to compete energetically in this area to prevent them swarming through onto the defence. Therefore, while waiting on a late check on Anderton, we could expect to see Poyet, Davies and Freund as the three battlers, with Ziege and Anderton if fit as the supply lines to the front two.
In the forward department, Daniele Dichio is out having broken his foot on loan at WBA, while Niall Quinn has been in and out of the side, but will be relishing facing a Spurs side shorn of all height in the centre of the defence. Lillian Laslandes has made a slow start to his Premiership career, but will no doubt be looking to get off the mark in front of his home crowd. Of course, Kevin Phillips is always a threat and Spurs could well do with someone like him in their line-up. With young Steven Ferguson being added to our squad, he might just make the bench and he is a goalscorer with a lot of talent, so it will be interesting to see if he gets on and how he does.
With a full side, I would have gone for a Spurs win, despite the passing game not being fully integrated into the pattern quite yet, but with some Everton like grit, Spurs could come home with a point. The home sides 4-4-2 will probably be matched by Hoddle, switching to 3-5-2 should a goal be needed. Sunderland were very lack-lustre against Villa at the weekend and we must hope that the shine continues to be missing from their play. As for Tottenham, there is a long string of difficult games ahead, so a point will be a most welcome addition to the tally ...
PREDICTION : - Sunderland 1 Tottenham 1
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
|Sunderland 1 Tottenham 2 (Half time score: 0-1 )|
|Wednesday 19th September 2001|
|Weather : - Driving rain, strong wind.|
|Crowd : - 47,310|
|Referee : - Mr. P. Durkin (Dorset)|
Scorers : - Sunderland - Phillips
Sunderland : Schwarz (foul) 71
Spurs : Ziege (foul) 36, Perry (foul) 77
Gray, Craddock, McCartney (Williams 57), Arca; Schwarz, McCann, Kilbane
Ziege, Perry, King, Taricco; Anderton (Leonhardsen 82), Davies, Freund,
Poyet; Ferdinand (Rebrov 68), Sheringham
When Neil Sullivan was forced to tip over Arca's volley with just half a minute gone, it looked as though we were in for a long night. Instead, it was just a long quarter hour at the end of the match as we waited for the ref's final whistle.
The early scare proved no more than a flash in the pan as Tottenham took a grip on the game with their accurate and incisive passing. While Sunderland had the bulk of the possession, Spurs did more with their share of the ball as the game went on. The only other opportunity of note the black Cats had was when Phillips had a free-kick blocked by the wall and then lashed the rebound wide off a Spurs leg. Creating chances for Les, Davies twice and Anderton to shoot wide, it was left to Christian Ziege to score the opening goal of the match. His looping cross to the far post flew in past Macho, who had been hobbling around and got completely underneath the ball as it went in near the top corner of the angle. Macho had looked a long way off his line and probably thought that Les was going to fly in to head it, but we knew different. Being Christian's third goal so far, it is the contribution that we all hoped he would bring to the team.
Sunderland tried to hit back, but there was only a Phillips shot form wide on the right, that Sullivan blocked with his legs to worry Spurs. Quinn showed his lack of skill, by constantly pulling and pushing the Tottenham defenders and moaning to the ref about it. Tottenham had further opportunities with Davies and Anderton going close, but failing to trouble the Sunderland keeper.
With the home crowd almost silent and when they did make any noise it consisted on booing or shouts at Peter Reid to do something, Tottenham began the second half the way they had left off in the first. Les should really have added another when Ted's shot was blocked and Ferdinand hit a weak shot at the keeper. However, five minutes in, Sheringham had given Spurs a bigger cushion and a richly deserved second goal. Starting in the middle of the pitch, Sheringham fed Les, who slipped the ball out to the left wing, where he found Simon Davies running forward. He carried the ball past the Sunderland defender and put in a pacy cross on to the head of Teddy Sheringham. His powerful header was parried by Macho, but the pace on the ball meant that the goalie could not stop the ball and it hit the net with a roar from the Spurs fans behind that goal. It was a flowing move that really deserved a goal at the end of it.
Sunderland came back and Phillips had an acrobatic overhead kick go wide, before a couple of worrying minutes saw Craddock head down and Neil make a good stretching save, then Philips hooked the ball back across goal and Kilbane coming in at the far post headed over. Rebrov came on for Les and his movement and touch made him a target for Teddy's passing and he got in a shot, but it did not overly trouble Macho, before the play switched to the other end and Sunderland clawed a goal back. A long throw on the Tottenham left was headed on at the near post and Phillips was unmarked in the six yard box with the obvious consequence. His volley ripped past Sully and the home crowd suddenly woke up.
It set up a grandstand finish with Sunderland throwing the kitchen sink at Spurs. While Sergei broke away on the left, but hit a low shot that bounced away off the keeper, there was little precise passing and the defence were clearing the ball anywhere, resulting in it coming straight back into the Spurs box. However, apart from a cross that Perry nudged past Sullivan towards his own goal, but did manage to get back to clear away and some late drives that went just wide, Spurs held out admirably.
It was a win that was earned in the flowing football style that Spurs had been noted for in years gone by. The performance was one that had an element of luck that the side had been missing, although Sunderland were less than convincing for the majority of the match. While this should not detract from the Tottenham performance, the next two matches will show how far the team have come under Glenn Hoddle. And because it was the second win at the Stadium of light since he took over as Spurs boss, it provides a good feeling that the side might come home from their travels with more than just a good hiding because of Hod's philosophy.
|MEHSTG TOP MAN : - CHRIS PERRY|
|MACKEM EAT CAKE|
|The final fifteen minutes was one
of those times when Spurs put us through it. Having strolled to a
two goal lead (which should have been more), they then proceeded to make
us live on our nerves at the end of the match.
The passing and movement was exquisite in the first half and the early part of the second, but the legs gave out a bit as Sunderland pulled themselves back into the match towards the end. There wasn't really that much to get worried about until Phillips scored and then it was really desperate defending. It was heart in mouth time with Perry getting his own deflection past Sullivan off the line (just) and then a couple of shots in the dying minutes of added time whizzing past the goal. It did show that there was a resolve in the team that might not have been there previously and we might have given away some of the points instead of hanging on for the win. I think this will give the side a lot of strength as it wasn't easy holding on with the home crowd roaring them on.
The better part of the game was the first hour. After being cut through inside the first minute, Spurs then quietly went about their job of attacking Sunderland, but they also worked hard t get the ball in the first place. Davies and Anderton ran and tackled a fair bit, while Ziege got back on occasions, something he doesn't always do. But it was his attacking edge that helped Spurs. Always a threat down the left, he was switching play when the space was available for Tottenham players on the other side of the pitch.
Les hasn't scored for two years in an away game and it is not hard to se why. His touch is still not great and that allows defenders to get challenges in on him, but his shooting is off the boil too much too. In the first half, there was one opportunity that he let run across him to the left (although not quite like Van Nistelrooy does) and his angle was then tight and the shot went wide across the face of the goal. In the second he scuffed a blocked Sheringham shot gently into the goalie's arms when he had the whole goal to aim at. In the end, it didn't matter, but another goal from those two chances would have wrapped the game up and saved us all biting our nails down to the quick.
The first goal was a fluke with Christian's cross floating over the limping Macho man into the goal from 35 yards out. It was the stroke of luck we have needed and didn't get against Chelsea (but isn't that always the way with them). The second was much more conventional. A ball up to Les was poked out wide left to Simon Davies, who took on his man and crossed to the middle of the goal, where Sheringham had run from the centre circle to get on the end of it with a header that Macho got t, but couldn't stop. It was a well worked goal and the sort that we hoped our new players would be involved in.
Unfortunately, Gus had a mare. He looked a long way off the pace and the three game ban might have affected his match fitness. There was little option but to play him, with the injuries we had and I hope this match has sharpened him up for the coming game at Anfield. King was superb again and I though Perry did well, under threat from the impending signing of Dean Richards. Taricco was solid and made strides up the right, but not quite in the way Stephen Carr does. Freund did his destroyer job, but when we are one up with minutes remaining, I wish he didn't try to impress us with his back-heels that go to the other side !! Les tried hard and was a handful for their defence, but needs to get his shots harder and on target, while Teddy looked the player we all know he can be.
An unexpected result with all our injuries, but one that was welcome and maintains our good record over the Mackems. The most pleasing thing was the way we played away from home. Under the previous manager, such a performance would have been unthinkable, so it is a bit of return to the old traditions. More importantly, it was a return to winning ways.
Truly, my eyes did see the glory. If only Teddy, Shaggy and Gus were ten years younger innit.
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