A game of two halves
If you took the first half as your standard you’d say that this was a far more convincing scoreline than performance, however the way we dominated and brushed aside Sunderland after half time was impressive and in the end the result was well deserved. The players should be praised for lifting their game after the interval, pinning Sunderland back and making the most of their opportunities.
The first half seemed familiar in so many ways. We were hugely on top for the first fifteen minutes but as so often lately (Everton & Leicester) failed to capitalise. The away team sat back whilst we got more and more compressed in the centre and frustration and stagnation set in (Newcastle). Sunderland scored from their second attack after a cute ball inside Alli (on the right strangely) from Johnson put van Aanholt in on goal and familiar scenarios this time from Redknapp and AVB days (Wigan, Stoke, Fulham) filled the mind’s eye. However this side is made of sterner stuff and after a lovely move involving Dier, Alli and Kane, Eriksen matched Johnson’s through ball inside the full back – Harry’s shot was beaten out but Eriksen himself, with considerable assistance from Cattermole who should’ve cleared on the line, hit the loose ball home.
Big Fat Ham
This unfamiliar piece of luck was a relief and clearly gave everyone a lift as, one botched free-kick apart that led to Defoe’s only chance of the game; we strolled through the second half. Dembélé was the star of the show but arguably Sam Allardyce had as big as influence on the outcome as anyone as his substitutions played into our hand tactically when he replaced Cattermole and his introduction of new signing Kirchhoff will surely be remembered for one of the worst debuts ever seen in the Premier League. Just after he came on to join Brown and O’Shea in a back three Dembélé put us in the lead with a fine low left footer after a corner wasn’t cleared properly. Kirchhoff then deflected Eriksen’s drive from range past his own keeper before he brought down Rose with a late challenge. Kane scored from the spot.
No sleep ‘til bedtime
The sloppy possession play of some of the players in the first half plus some poor decision making and flat performances from Alli and Lamela (to name two) point to the tiredness we’ve all feared but perhaps knew was inevitable. The players have played a lot of games in the last month and with Leicester on Wednesday there’s no let up this week either. It’s hard to know what we can do about it if Pochettino doesn’t trust enough of the squad to rotate the likes of Dier, Alli, Kane of course and Eriksen. It’s a shame that Pritchard’s injury hasn’t allowed him to make progress and also of course the estrangement of Bentaleb and Townsend.
Still, another four goals and a little cushion between us and fifth. Well done lads.
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