I enjoyed our win over Sunderland. Okay, so it wasn't always pretty and there were a few moments of concern and the odd lull. However, overall it was efficient and for the most part error free. It illustrated the on-going problems we have with not bossing teams and killing them off but we know this and it can't be resolved, not yet. Not until we have what Maurico Pochettino considers to be the perfect balance through the spine of the side.
For now we have a team that's functional, if not perfect, but undoubtedly on key with our head coach and his work ethic. We don't stop pushing forward, we don't let our heads drop and our lungs can endure the full 90 and some. It's a solid base, a foundation that will give us strength to build something towering and creative on top of it.
For now we have to deal with the realities that opposition forwards will craft out chances. We have to accept that Hugo Lloris will (time and time again) produce masterful shot stops every bit as important as a Kane or Eriksen goal. Even though we have often complained about the benched players and questioned their mentality when called upon, you can't argue that when drafted in they've performed well. Our depth might not be silk with quality but there's a determination with all involved. It's absolutely vital for rotation and retaining freshness.
Jan Vertonghen had one of his best games for us (this season) and was involved in everything - good and bad. Scored our first goal, was involved in a Sunderland penalty shout (Jermain Defoe going to ground faster than Jermain Defoe on the pull in Faces - although technically speaking it should have been awarded) and then gave a needless free-kick away for the away side to equalise from. He also scored a perfectly valid goal for a 3-1 that was vanquished by a linesman that misinterpreted the offside rule and the ref (our friend Chris Foy), in the perfect position to over-rule preferring instead not to question the decision. Laughable. At the time of writing, the FA haven't commented. Dubious Offside Commission anyone?
Once again Christian Eriksen found himself in an almost duplicate position to so many of his match-winning/saving goals - this time pinging the ball in off the post for the 2-1 late on. If Seb Larsson's free-kick was floated in beyond Lloris, our Dane left their keeper rooted.
13 points acquired from his goal-scoring antics. The very definition of game-changer. A vigilant performance that made sure justice was served. Considering how much of the game we dominated, the joke's on us if we don't make it count. He had efforts during the course of the game so perhaps it wasn't that much of a surprise to finally sneak one in. Good work from Andros Townsend on the counter to look up and pass rather than blast.
Sunderland had less shape than Homer Simpson reaching down for a gummy bear but still somehow made it difficult for us to break through. Same old story, loads of possession but not enough cutting edge. Why no cutting edge?
Roberto Soldado is like Billy Baston who forgets to utter the word 'Shazam'; nothing to marvel at. A less than mainstream comic metaphor there. Strictly for the geeks.
I've written about this since last season and feel that it remains the only commentary that fits into the Spaniards predicament. Even thought he displays decent attributes as a footballer, outside the box and in build up play - as a goal-scorer he looks utterly destroyed. He gets into positions but fails to connect with venom or precision. His indecisiveness has consumed his confidence. He also isn't the type of player to run towards goal and create an opening for himself. It's frustrating.
Against Sunderland, Harry Kane played at number 10. It was a touch awkward. It's worked before but it wasn't the fit for this game and Kane was largely wasted but still endeavoured to make something happen (desperately unlucky with the woodwork from one effort).
Soldado was replaced by whatshisface...Emmanuel Adebayor. Impossible to really critique him considering this was his first appearance since whenever his last one was. He was booed. I guess because unlike Soldado, he hasn't been present at the club and has defaulted to the expected erratic variant that has frustrated so many clubs in the past.
Personally, Soldado is doomed unless he suddenly turns into an aggressive c**t and arrogantly slaps opposing defenders left, right and centre. So why not applaud him and sing his name? It's akin to the orchestra playing a tune as the Titanic sank. Might as well go down with song.
Ade has had more chances than most. He has proven quality which is why he's also forgiven more than most. I guess with the games up ahead and the unlikely arrival of new players - we could do with another one of his cameos until something more permanent (regarding transfers in/out) is agreed come the summer.
Enjoyed Benji Stambouli (especially) and Mousa Dembele deputising for the missing Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb. There was enough presence in there to keep Sunderland quiet and see our possession sit tidy at 60%. Benji, positively smouldering with desire, his best game for us so far, looking for the quick pass to keep momentum going.
Eric Dier more than decent paired up with action-man Vertonghen. Almost forgot to mention Danny Rose, probably because he played so well (so much easier to notice when players don't).
I'm happy. At some point I'd like to see us win games within 60 - 70 minutes by a couple of goals rather than rely on stealing late drama but because of the evident development of the team, I'm content. This isn't a chaotic Spurs that begs for a Gareth Bale wonder goal to erase the memory of laborious nondescript football. We've got style and some quality but not enough in both measures but enough of something to see us through.