In what was overall an average game, Spurs pocketed all three points with a late Ryan Mason strike in a match that seemed to be heading towards a nil-all draw.
With legendary Spurs striker Jermain Defoe and former Spurs central defender Kaboul among the Sunderland line-up, Tottenham Hotspur visited the Stadium of Light in search of their first league victory as Pochettino brought in new arrival Heung-Min Son in place of the injured Christian Eriksen. In a slow and boring first half, two of the best chances went to Sunderland as Defoe tore apart the central defensive pairing of Vertonghen and Alderweireld only to hit the post. Apart from the two chances for Sunderland and a half chance for Son in the 6 yard box, both teams looked slow as the ball predominantly stayed in the midfield, occasionally changing hands due to a miss-pass. The highlight of the first half however had to be the nutmeg by Deli Alli on Jordi Gomes in the second minute. Kaboul a player who was cast out due to his substandard performances had one of his best games in recent years as he managed to keep the likes of Son and Kane quiet, while also contributing to the team’s attack.
The half-time team talk seemed to have favoured Spurs more than it did Sunderland as the Tottenham side looked more eager to score, playing quicker and more attacking football. Chadli who looked sluggish in the first half made more positive and direct runs as he set up Son and Alli whose finishing failed to help capitalise on the situation. Son who played in the all-important number ten role was entrusted with the set pieces. Displaying his ability to kick with either leg, Sona s delivery was poor, yet a promising glimpse at what he has to offer in the future with a little time. Mason who looked a little unfamiliar with the left-sided deep midfield role looked positive further up the pitch making surging runs. At the 62nd minute mark, Andros Townsend who returned from injury was brought on for Son and immediately made a positive impact with his pace and direct runs which wreaked havoc in the Sunderland defence. The introduction of Lamela much to the disappointment of Spurs fans had a positive impact on the game as the Argentine operated quite comfortably from the left hand side. The 82nd minute goal was a combination of efforts of Mason and Lamela giving Tottenham the lead and 8 minutes to maintain it. With Lamela to assist, Mason ran into the box and found enough time to poke the ball into the back of the net after which his collision with the keeper ruled him out for the rest of the game. With a reputation for conceding the very minute after scoring, Spurs fans held their breath as the threatening Lens ran into the box. However a nervous 5 minutes of extra time later, Spurs walked away with their first victory in the Premier League campaign.
- Sunderland now have gone eight league games without a victory, having conceded eleven goals this season, they possess the second poorest defensive record. Although Kaboul had one of his best games in a long time, some fans swear that it was Tottenhama s poor show upfront that made him look good. However, Advocaat must ensure his back four remain as solid as they were in the first half if he wishes to get out of the danger zone.
- Sunderland undoubtedly had a great first half and a reasonably good second half. Although Borini was played as the central striker, it was Defoe who had majority of the chances as the Italian looked out of sync and was later substituted in the second half. Advocaat must look to play the veteran striker in a more central role as he not only possesses the experience but also the pace to outrun defenders larger and younger than himself.
- Tottenham still lack finishing in their final third. In a game where many chances for Tottenham in the box, they were either squandered by holding the ball for too long or shot way off the mark. Son, Kane, Chadli and Alli all had a go inside the danger zone throughout the game, but proved to be fruitless due to their lack of composure.
- Lamela must be played from the left. Eric Lamela found much of his success in Roma when he was played down the left wing. Ever since his arrival at Spurs, the Argentine has been positioned as a reverse winger on the right hand side and has struggled to keep up to pace and get used to the game. In the game against Sunderland however, Pochettino placed him on the left which had a positive impact on his playing style. Although a lot more is expected of him because of his price tag, using Lamela on the left might be a solution to enable him to play better in the season ahead.
- Townsend must start from the next game. Tottenham has lacked pace on their wings in the
last few fixtures with the inclusion of Dembele. With the need to cut infield, Spurs have had no out-and-out winger who can run at defenders and provide crosses. The introduction of Townsend offered a new dimension to Tottenhama s attack as the Englishman hugged the touch line and skillfully provided crosses and also occasionally cut into the box when he had drawn Van-Aanholt wide enough.
Sunderland, much like Spurs in their previous games, have put in their share of hard work but yielded no fruit. They find themselves at the bottom of the table and will remain there if they do not make a positive change to their tactics. Tottenham, on the other hand, have moved to the twelfth position with their first victory. With six points in their bag, a lot of work on their finishing is needed if they wish to convert their half chances to goals and move to the top half of the table, in subsequent matches.