Tottenham win at Sunderland – five things we learned
The north Londoners needed to come back from a goal down after Adam Johnson’s strike, but a Paulinho effort and John O’Shea’s own goal gave the visitors three points.
Here are five things we learned in the game.
Defoe a better option in attack than Soldado
Although Jermain Defoe did not get on the scoresheet, the England international hit the woodwork twice and had a number of other opportunities to score – on another day he could well have had a hat-trick.
Despite failing to hit the net, Defoe’s movement off the ball was much superior to what Spurs fans have seen from Roberto Soldado so far.
Sandro and Paulinho must play together
It was something of a surprise that Sandro was omitted given strong recent form, and Spurs suffered in the first-half as a result.
Paulinho was assigned as the designated holding midfielder in his compatriot’s place, and as such Spurs were robbed of his attacking instincts and struggled to create chances.
When Sandro came on and Paulinho was afforded the luxury of getting forward more, Tottenham instantly looked like a much more dangerous side.
Although the substitute was lucky not to give away a penalty, his combativeness and work rate played their part in Spurs seeing out the game.
Cattermole needs to start for Sunderland
Tottenham effectively won the game in a commanding 15-minute spell in the second half, where the visitors bossed possession and territory.
In this time, Sunderland’s midfielders struggled to get close to their opposite numbers and the hosts were lucky not to concede more goals.
When Lee Cattermole was introduced, the aggressive enforcer closed down Spurs’ danger men, acted as a talisman and was tidy on the ball.
Someone of Cattermole’s ilk is a wildcard, as there is the threat that he could get sent off or lose his discipline. However, his desire, stature and never-say-die attitude look like they are just what the Black Cats need right now.
Lennon is the man for the right wing
With the summer signing of Erik Lamela and Andros Townsend’s performances on the right wing, many were questioning just where Aaron Lennon fitted into the squad.
However, after returning from injury, the tricky winger has been in excellent form and put in another strong performance here.
His combination with Kyle Walker and ability to beat opponents on the outside are key attributes for Spurs, and should be of real interest to England also.
Townsend a better option than Chadli on the left
Nacer Chadli threatened in the air from corners but looked distinctly average in open play, as the Belgian adjusts to life in England.
With Villas-Boas’ inverted wingers mentality, the former Twente attacker started on the left but repeatedly turned in-field onto his favoured right foot.
When Andros Townsend came on in his place, the English winger looked much more of a threat – playing on his natural left-hand side. Two good crosses from Townsend could have heralded a third goal and playing the youth system product on the left certainly looks like a good option currently.