Loads of possession yesterday, some decent build up play but a quality final ball dinked in was missing for large patches of the game which meant apart from a King effort well saved and Bent ballooning the ball over when one-on-one with the keeper, we did well to stay in the game with Sunderland squandering a few chances of their own. It's refreshing to see us claiming a late goal in our favour for once.
Obviously, we went 1-0 down within a couple of minutes. But considering how often we seem to get bullied away against the more physical teams I can’t complain too much about how we went about our business yesterday after Richardson scored. Boro stood off and let us play football on Wednesday night. There was no chance Sunderland would do the same. They don’t make it easy for anyone up there. And typically, we made it easier for them with our lacklustre start to the game.
Defensively we were not great. And as mentioned, the final ball was not always to the required standard. And although Redknapp exaggerates a little with his ‘we dominated’ assessment, we were good for the point and deservedly got it with Keane’s smart late finish.
I know we have tired legs and Harry has done a good job getting us through the congested fixture list, but playing Chimbonda at left-back was never going to be productive. Hutton is back soon. Would like to see him slot into right-back and Corluka at centre-back and Chimbonda can be used for either RB or CB if required. Let BAE and Bale battle it out for LB. Utility player or not Pascal might be able to slot into the LB position but having no left foot means it’s a bit like asking a eunuch to star in a porn movie. The additional chorus of boos that followed every touch he made didn’t make it a comfortable afternoon for him. Still, he muddled through. Not sure why he wasn’t started at right back and Corluka slotted into left back (he didn’t do too shabby there against Liverpool). Harry did rectify this cometh the 75th minute mark.
Gomes gave us one moment of ‘oh shit oh shit oh shit’ when he came but failed to make contact with the ball. But was otherwise untested. Sunderland’s other efforts, including one from a superb Andy Reid cross that Cisse failed to turn in, were half chances at best.
Lennon did his thing. Always find he can get the opposition fullback yellow-carded quite easily with his tricks and turns, but needs to go in for the kill more often and get them sent-off. Can't believe this hasn't been drilled into him by the manager. His crosses hit far too many defenders. A slight off day for the menacing wing magician. Modric was quiet, but still in an attacking sense, our other best outlet.
Huddlestone (such a great passer of the ball, but just so damn immobile – can we ever make more use of him?) came on for Jenas (who was neither great or average - just stuck somewhere in the middle). Bentley (decent effort) and Pav also on towards the end.
Palacios was a bit on the quiet side.
We kept plugging away and from a Sunderland corner/penalty claim all the way to the other end of the pitch that saw Bent cross in for Keane to hit a half volley into the ground which gave Fulop no chance and to give us a point.
And as for fans favourite Darren Bent, if they handed out points for players who run around constantly he’d be top of the table. But that’s not enough. It’s frustrating that when he had the chance to score (divot or no divot) he struck the ball high above the bar. But then again, he’ll get double the amount of moans and groans aimed at him because of who he is. We all know Robbie misses his fair share of opportunities. But Robbie does score important goals and does contribute substantially more. Bent has more negatives with this game than he has in the way of positive attributes. I don’t believe the ball bobbled. It was a shocking miss. But we survived. And he can be happy with the assist.
As for Sunderland, just worth mentioning that Jones looked fairly average and the £15M price tag a joke. Steed created, much like Andy Reid did. The latter defining gravity with his movement and his knack for a quality ball. I half expect the ground below him to give way and swallow up his plumb rounded figure, but it doesn't. Probably because Reid would swallow up the ground if he fell towards it, mouth open, knife and fork in hands. An appetiser before his post-match all-you-can-eat buffet.
One other thing I’d like to mention. Did anyone catch Football First? Big shout out to Barry Horne and his laughable bias commentary. If anyone watched the internet stream live they would had heard him complain about Robbie Keane waving an imaginary card at Steed and the ref which was a direct reaction to Steed waving it first. Horne completely ignored this and instead banged on about Keane and that he should be booked for demanding a yellow for Steed. The commentary was littered with some embarrassing sound bites.
Villa up next. They’re struggling a bit, but it’s still going to take a more confident display defensively to get something out of it. I’ve still got us down with picking up a few shock points away from home in our remaining fixtures.
5 points from the mire. 5 points from Europe. It's absolutely ridiculous and in classic Tottenham-fan mode, I ask myself, what if...........what if we didn't have that atrocious start to the season? In fact, what if Spurs displayed the type of commitment and effort Villa have for most of the season? Next year, yeah?