We did not win, at the same time we did not lose either. After our 3-0 loss at White Hart Lane, against Liverpool, nobody was sure what to expect. So, yes, we drew, but that only tells you half the story. We would have won, and should have won, if it was not for our Harry Kane (who came on for Adebayor) and scoring for the opposition. We were comfortable with the possession we had. Moreover, that possession was 63%; 6 goals on target (to their one).
The Sunderland supporters were lucky to go away with a smile on their faces (of sorts). We started well; Nacer Chadli scored after 2 minutes from a rebound. Two minutes later Adam Johnson shot back and the Spurs supporters hung their heads down; thinking, “Here we go again”. After some good football from Spurs the half-time whistle went and Pochettino was up and making his way to the changing rooms to give his team a motivating talk. It must have worked, as their second half performance was a notch up on their first half. Just after the break, Christian Eriksen scored the goal that put us ahead. After that, Sunderland did not look like scoring (apart from one close miss) and it only looked a matter of time before we got another one. That is for us, not them.
Because of that goal, it would not be surprising to see the Spurs manager drop his head in frustration, but he should not, as Eriksen and Lamela did him proud. They dominated in midfield, while they inspired the others around them. Eriksen had 104 touches on the ball; this was the most passes by any player in the game. Adebayor had four shots on target while Vlad Chiriches made five interceptions, which was more than any other player; from either side. In the case of Younes Kaboul he had to share his distinction with Wes Brown in six defensive clearances; again most in the game. Erika Lamela and Eriksen, along with their impressive performance created (each) three scoring chances. Hugo Lloris, though, had a quiet match and when he was tested, his performance left a lot to be desired.
Mousa Dembélé did not start against Liverpool, but against Sunderland he was picked to start, and it showed it was a wise decision. Dembélé is a skilled attacking midfielder, who harassed their defence and midfield and played an important part in Spurs performance.
While I am at it, I like to mention our new signing Benjamin Stambouli (unfortunately, Fazio did not play, but was a sub). Stambouli replaced Chadli in the 70th minute and was very impressive in midfield. He operated his area with experience and forethought; to such a point that he calmed the players down. His passes were good and mostly reached their targets. Right up to the last whistle he supported and helped the back four. If he continues playing this way, he will be a regular in the team before long. Watching the match on Saturday, you could see the players coming together; a nucleus of a good and challenging team, hopefully.
Sunderland manager had said that if they had went on and won it there would have been an injustice done to their opponents, and I agree. We did not win, but we saw potential there that says we should have nothing to worry about under Pochettino’s supervision. It is early days at the moment, but days where we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Poyet also said that it was the toughest match for Sunderland this season.
Our mangers comments after the draw: “I am very disappointed. When you create many chances, it is difficult to accept the draw. We need to improve. We need to be more aggressive and more focused. It is difficult to accept. You need to have luck and it’s true Sunderland had luck. I think there is a gap in the stats but you need to kill the game. We did not do that and this happens in football. We need to show collectively more calm, more security. We need to win games like this.” I agree with his prognosis.
Now we must get ourselves ready and move onto Partizan Belgrade this Thursday for our Europa League match. Our next league game will be against WBA at White Hart Lane this Sunday. Matches, no doubt, that all Spurs fans will be looking forward to immensely.
Just a quick look at the rest of the potentials for the top four places; Chelsea is the most impressive of all the teams. They have won four out of four and currently at the top of the league. Unless they start to go wobbly and their performance drops drastically, I expect them to finish first. I cannot see anybody at present catching them up (the closest will be City).
Aston Villa, Swansea, and Southampton hold the next three spots respectively, but will not be anywhere near that by the end of the season. Early days luck for them. The next two spots are City and Spurs with similar records. The only thing separating both teams is a one-goal difference. After Spurs at sixth comes Arsenal (7th), Liverpool (8th), Man Utd (9th; who had their first victory over the weekend; against QPR) and following United we see Everton in 10th place. None of the top nine clubs – at present – has shown anything near to what Chelsea has shown. Providing we can continue with our development and improvement under Mauricio Pochettino, we have a good chance of ending the season with a top four placing, but as I said, early days and a long hard league season ahead of us and the other candidates who are chasing what we so desperately want.
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