Spurs 4 Sunderland 1
Not a lot to say about this one in terms of ground breaking insight. Immensely happy that we got the three points considering how flat the first half was until the goals came. Sunderland and especially Jan Kirchhoff supported the platform for the win, which we only truly stepped on in the second half. Plenty of possession in the first but little penetration to show for it. We lacked intensity and inventiveness around the box. All foreplay no blasting.
It's the same old story when teams turn up and sit deep. It's not easy to work intricate balls through congested areas. We still attempt to do this regardless and don't stretch the game enough with width and if we do, the final ball is either too long or too good. I say too good in that there's no one in the perfect position to take advantage because only Harry Kane is spearheading. As good as he is, the power to clone himself eludes him.
There's so much Kane can take responsibility for, holding the weight of the world on his shoulders like Atlas*. I'm thankful at least that another Titan, in the shape of Mousa Dembele, stuck in a decent display and scored the all important second goal to break the visitors resolve. Even if he was given ample freedom and space to shift and shoot. Christian Eriksen also played a big part with his brace, both with packaged assistance from Sunderland colours.
*I'm re-hashing a recently used analogy cause I'm tired and lacking creative juice.
You could sit back and talk about fortunate goals scored rather than what we'd prefer; four deliciously crafted net-busters. But you make your own luck, right? To be honest, I have no idea how that actually works. What defines luck and what's the direct consequence of physics and inches? This wasn't a master-class but the end result matches up to our position compared to the one Sunderland hold.
Against Leicester City the keeper and the bar meant we didn't go one-nil up. Against Sunderland we had a shot on target by Eriksen, an attempted clearance by Lee Cattermole but in it went. Then a decent free hit from Mousa, tucked away like a mother with child at bedtime. Then a shot (via the boots of Eriksen again) and a deflection from the most placid attempt to block a shot (Kirchhoff). Then Kane from the penalty spot after a fairly woeful attempt to get the ball (Kirchhoff). Fortune favours the brave.
Regardless of the lack of tempo in our game in terms of punishing execution, we retained patience and reacted well to another (far earlier) sucker punch when Sunderland took a shock 1-0 lead against the run of play. We equalised ninety or so seconds later. We found a way through and we did so enough times to make it comfortable in the end. If this is us not playing well - having a bit of downtime - then I'll accept it as another trait, this one tagged with the label 'professional'. Sam Allardyce tinkered a touch too much with his teams shape and inadvertently made them weaker, eventually giving us that platform to inflict damage.
Our defensive record is great. Our goal difference, at this rate, will end up getting its own chapter in the next revision of The Opus. We still have our imperfections and plenty of room to improve, but here we are. Still up there, still not out-played (if perhaps sometimes out-lucked) and still managing to win games when perhaps our reliance on the single dimension is beginning to lose a bit of shine.
No Kyle Walker. Mauricio Pochettino stating three games in a week means an automatic rest for the fullbacks. Kieran Trippier does provide us with some width and the occasional smart cross which we might take advantage of in time. It's actually a good narrative this. Trippier playing means there is potential competition at right-back. Walker has been very consistent this season but we know that consistency can breed complacency (with any position). Having said that, I still prefer Walker. Even with his positional lapses and dizzy spells. Perhaps the ability to provide end product on the over-lap will see the winner take all.
I've citied Mousa and Christian. Was good to have Dembele back in the middle and regaining sharpness. He has far more physicality and a more dominating presence than little neat and tidy Tommy Carroll. Eriksen, often maligned for not doing enough, does the simple things that seem to go unnoticed that he doesn't always get credit for. At least today he scored twice and you pretty much can't influence a game any more than that. Credit also to the tireless Kane. Remember, this guy has been playing football since the summer. ON HIS OWN. He hasn't stopped. His work ethic is monumental. We need to get him some help up top as there's so much one man can do when attempting to lead the line.
He's not the only one that looks to be running low on energy. We're not far off from the business end of the season. Top of the table is tight. Refresh, rotate and re-energise. We can't do that convincingly without adding to the squad.
Spurs have plenty of Titans but we're still waiting to release the Kraken. It's still caged up.