Category Archives: Sunderland

New Boots and Gomes. Sunderland 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

As I suggested in my preview piece I expected a torrid period in the game and it came right at the start. We started slowly but Sunderland was straight out of the blocks. Unfortunately Gallas was off the field for the opening goal changing his boots and Dawson was unable to take both men with Gyan turning well to score leaving Gomes no chance.

The difficult bit is why boots needed to be changed. The team has run out on the field in its warm up so I would expect decisions about the length of stud to have been made in the dressing room. My first impression of the goal was that the crosser had too much room and where was Charlie? He had been beaten trying to challenge the man further up the field while Pienaar stood by. 

After that it was up to Spurs to put in a decent performance full of character to turn the game around and we were able to do it. Lennon and Palacios were on the bench so Pienaar and Sandro came into the side and as I had hoped Kranjcar got a start. 

The words “away” and “Sandro” have not sat well together thus far but this was by far his best performance away from White Hart Lane and he ended up contributing well in our winner. Alongside him Jenas had another decent afternoon breaking up most of what Sunderland had to offer and turning defence into attack in a much improved second half performance. 

In defence Dawson and Ekotto linked well and looked pretty secure for most of the time. As at Blackburn Benny did not commit himself to attack as much as at White Hart Lane and it paid off well. Dawson was able to get our equaliser with a decent header from a corner which Gallas enticed to go through Gordon’s legs by unsighting him as he ran across him at the important moment.  

Up front Pav came into the side to partner Defoe and our final stat of 2 shots on target says much. That’s not to say that they were both awful as they both contributed towards moves in the opposition half but opportunities for them in the box were few and far between as the Sunderland centre backs played them well. 

In the first half Defoe held the ball up well and laid a decent ball into the box which Jenas could not keep down and Pav played a challenging cross field pass which Corluka then got inside to Pienaar whose shot went over the bar. 

Our second half performance was a great improvement on the first but it was clear that a moment of brilliance would be needed to win the game for us. That came when Corluka lifted a delightful ball into space down the right which Sandro ran onto it before putting in a cross that was headed away from Defoe straight onto the right foot of Kranjcar before it hit the back of the net.

Last week Niko climbed from the bench to hit a brilliant left foot winner. This week he starts and puts in the type of performance we saw from him last year before finishing it with another great goal. Pienaar played better but without Lennon the side lacked a little pace which did not assist our front men particularly Defoe. On the other hand having two central midfielders with a less adventurous outlook helps to close out the opposition and prevent us getting overrun.

That certainly helped us hold out our lead. Sunderland came back well in a late flourish which saw Gomes make a save from Steed and Gyan twisting and turning Dawson, Corluka and Gallas at different points. 

Not wishing to be left out Gomes once again gets into the action ending up booked for time wasting after once again feigning injury in an effort to get Gyan booked?  Why does he do it? On the replay the contact looked to be nothing at all and all he achieved was getting the crowd whipped up for the home team. 

How does this affect the defenders around him? Dawson appeared to be saying “get on with it” to him after talking away the referee.

So another 3 points which puts us into the top 4 until Monday night when Chelsea has a chance to regain fourth spot. By that time the squad will be in Milan looking forward to a round of 16 game. Going in level at half time was an important feature and the improvement in the second half won us the points. 

Quite who plays in Milan we have to wait and see but we will need to have two good halves in Italy and get our stud selection right before the kick off.          

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Sunderland V Spurs preview

Visits to Sunderland have not been our most productive in the Premier League and the absence of Modric, Bale, Van Der Vaart and possibly Crouch will do little to improve those odds. But maybe our poor record can be put down to being too open and offensive thus allowing the Wearsiders to get in amongst us if they get their gander up.

It was this way last year and we were lucky to get away with a reasonable score line in the heavy beating we took on the field. This year no Darren Bent to haunt us or humiliate himself but with a positive home support behind them Sunderland will cause us problems. We saw at Blackburn that the absence of Bale and Modric played into our hands as Palacios and Jenas gave us the opportunity to snuff them out in midfield whilst Lennon and Rafa operated on the flanks. 

The problem is whether Palacios is available. Having travelled to play in a friendly for Honduras it may boil down to how much rest he has had on his plane ride home and whether he is able to complete 90 minutes. I think he has to start if at all possible. I would worry if Sandro was asked to start in his place as most away games he has started have ended badly. 

Last week Lennon also ended the game with some problems. There are no indications that he is a risk so maybe rest during the week has sorted it out for him. Without Rafa I fancy he will return to the right wing allowing either Kranjcar or Pienaar to start on the left. After last weeks explosive goal I might be tempted to allow Niko to play the Modric role and leave Pienaar on the bench. This allows scope for the South African to come on either as a back up for Palacios or to replace one of the wide men.

At the back I would continue with Charlie as his defensive skills may well be called upon. Dawson and Gallas fill the centre births for me with Ekotto at left back. Behind them should Gomes stand down for Cudicini? I would say yes following his mistake last week but I think Harry will stick with him.

That leaves Pav to come in and join Defoe up front if Crouch is absent. The Russian has been complaining through the media but if he starts he has a chance to show why he should be in the starting line up. Can he do it? Only if he tries!

My team for the game:

                          Cudicini

     Corluka     Dawson     Gallas      Ekotto

Lennon           Jenas        Palacios        Kranjcar

                        Defoe              Pav

Prediction: After City losing 3 points would be great but I think this may well end in a draw.

Spurs player ratings against Sunderland

The player ratings are provided by Young Mac (aged 15) who watched the game on a stream. These were the notes on each Spurs player I came home to:

Gomes 7 – Not called upon often. Booked for a definite foul and conceded from a one on one but that’s not really his fault.

Hutton 7 – Some good attacking runs and play with Bentley.

Gallas 7 – Looked solid until his costly mistake with Kaboul that led to the goal.

Kaboul 7 –  Gallas and him both looked solid until the mistake which led to the goal

Ekotto 7 – Defended well and worked well with Bale. May have commited himself a couple of times and got beat.

Bale 7 – No master class from him tonight. But you can’t really expect that every game.  Some good attacking runs.

Modric  7 – Looked good to begin with but towards the end started making sloppy passes.

Huddlestone 7 – Got beat by Welbeck a couple of times and for the goal but sprayed the ball about nicely.

Bentley 6 – Wasn’t impressed with him tonight. His specialty is the cross for a target man to head  goal bound. Pav isn’t this man. Couple of poor shots and a poor free kick from a good  position. Definate penalty when he went down. But when Crouch came on he looked better.

Van der Vaart 8 – Impressive performance. Sprayed the ball about nicely. Scored and had a few chances well saved. Linked up well with Crouch but not so much with Pav. If Van der Vaart plays Crouch has to too.

Pavlyuchenko 6 – Didn’t link up well at all with Van der Vaart. One good bit of play when he turned and shot just wide but that’s about it. Gave the ball away a bit.

Crouch 7 – Linked up well with Van der Vaart when he came on. Got a assist. When he plays. Bentley is the best at putting the high ball in for him.

You can see all the player ratings for those games watched this season in the sidebar at all times or by clicking this link: Player Ratings