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December 18, 2011
• White Hart Lane, London
Referee: M. Dean
• Attendance: 36021
R. Pavlyuchenko 61'
Well it wasn't a classic by any means and Sunderland could have come away with a point on a more fortunate day. However, for Redknapp, he'll no doubt be reminded of the old saying that great teams can play poorly and still win. There will still be questions of Tottenham's top four credentials, let alone title credentials, but for the moment they will be sitting in 3rd place in the Premier League. Their next game? At home to 4th place Chelsea on Thursday.
And it is. All over at White Hart Lane.
90' + 4'
A 'heart-in-mouth' moment but Friedel mops up a dangerous cross with consummate ease. That's the experience Spurs signed coming into play and it looks like that will be that.
90' + 3'
Spurs overplaying at the back slightly and they're on the cusp of giving the Black Cats a final chance. As yet Spurs have got away with it...
Four minutes added on.
Rafael van der Vaart
Oooh! Could Bendtner have equalised? He certainly could have. A nice one two on the edge of the Spurs box presented a volley for the Dane but his left footed whack is more of a slice and it ends up in with the home fans, who are cheering rather ironically.
One event I haven't commented on was Sandro's withdrawal. Nothing to worry about, he just looked a bit fatigued following two games in quick succession. He was roundly applauded for his performance today. To see him make a rare appearance does show the depth of Tottenham's squad.
That's better. As my tools return to fit and working order, so do the Tottenham attacks. Pavlyuchenko, this time, with the space to smash one from the edge of the box. Though his right footed drive beats Westwood, it also beat the post. Close to sealing it, but not quite.
Normal service is resumed here. Laptop issues aside, you've not missed much. Though Adebayor has just trundled his way down the right side, to the byline, and poked into Westwood's body. Chance.
Van der Vaart has really come into the game now. Minutes after firing a stunning pass across to Assou-Ekotto, he flicked the ball out wide to the full back on the run to spark another Spurs chance. Though, ultimately Modric's strike found Van der Vaart's stomach rather than the Sunderland goal
Fabulous football from Spurs. Sandro bullied the Sunderland midfield into losing possession and his tackle fell to Van der Vaart on the right flank. As he drifted inside, his through ball was weighted well for Adebayor to run onto. His dinked finish was smothered by Westwood but the rebound fell to Modric six yards out. Stunningly he contrived to blaze the ball over the bar. On of the misses of the season!
Yellow Card David Vaughan
Assist Rafael van der Vaart
Goal Roman Pavlyuchenko
GOAL!!!! It hadn't been coming and it definitely wouldn't have been expected to come from Roman Pavlyuchenko, but he is always good for a goal no matter his form. Spurs harried Sunderland into turning over possession and led by Van der Vaart, threaded a ball through to the Russian number nine. From the right side of the box and at an angle, Pavlyuchenko drilled his shot across Westwood and into the bottom corner. Big goal for the home side.
Jack Colback has a real opportunity to at least get a shot on target but as he bore down on goal, he gave Sandro the chance to tackle and win the ball back.
A moment of danger as Van der Vaart drops into a central position. He received the ball in space, took a touch to steady himself for the shot and fired from 25 yards on his right foot. It's a decent strike but deflected wide of Westwood's right hand post for a corner. Nothing comes from the set-piece. Spurs are beginning to grow into the half now.
Sunderland have emerged the stronger side so far. They've worked the ball well and kept the pressure on Tottenham. The home side have not got anything going yet, particularly Pavlyuchenko who seems like he'd rather be somewhere else. Celebrating his 30th birthday again perhaps?
Yellow Card Kieran Richardson
Yellow Card Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Lovely effort from David Vaughn as the second half gets going. Spurs lost possession in Sunderland's half and Vaughn drove at the heart of Tottenham's defence. Despite having Sandro hot on his heels, Vaughn got a shot off from around 20 yards but it was plucked from the air by Friedel. Again, comfortable enough for the American shot stopper.
Sunderland get the second half started boasting a new striker. Arsenal loanee Nicklas Bendtner has emerged from the tunnel to replace Wickham, who may have departed with an injury.
O'Neill's half time talk will no doubt be 'more of the same' to his team. They've looked much more solid at the back than the Steve Bruce days and have a lingering threat up front through Sessegnon. Redknapp on the other hand will need to find a spark in his dressing room as there was a distinct lack of cutting edge following the withdrawal of Lennon. With Liverpool winning at Aston Villa, a home win is essential for a team aiming on getting back into the top 4.
Sunderland will be pleased with how they've defended by largely nullifying Tottenham's threat through the middle. The home side, of course, are minus Bale and Lennon through injury and now look a shadow of the fluid beast they usually are. My money would be on a draw from here.
Half time at White Hart Lane with the game deadlocked.
Big chance for Pavlyuchenko right on half time. Parker made in-roads down the left and his volleyed cross is met by the Russian at the near post. Westwood though, did just enough to put him off and the finish is placed wide. That was Tottenham's best chance.
Gallas concedes a sloppy free kick about 30 yards out for a foul on Wickham and though Larsson's effort is on target, it is well read by Friedel who leapt to his right to parry away from danger.
Sublime skill by Modric on the left wing. With O'Shea harrassing him, he juggled the ball and flicked it around the corner to the onrushing Assou-Ekotto. The left back charged into the box but his cross was not the best and evaded the arriving Spurs bodies.
Chance of the half? Probably, and it fell to Sunderland. Sessegnon played Larsson into a decent position on the right hand side of the penalty box. With the space to open his body and whip a low cross into the six yard box, Richardson somehow contrived to miss the tap in. He was under pressure but it may have actually been his timing as he flew beyond the cross and ended up being left in the back of the net without the all important ball. Signs of danger for Spurs.
Friedel forced into making his first save of the day. Kieran Richardson moved off the left flank, and though presented with a shooting chance on his weaker right foot, managed to hit the target with a low drive from 20 yards. It was a routine save for Friedel.
Pavlyuchenko comes on for Lennon and Spurs have switched to a 4-4-2 shape. It looks to be Van der Vaart and Modric on the flanks. This is a big test for the home side, who are now without their two most dangerous players.
Potentially bad news here as it's one sprint too many for Aaron Lennon. His latest exploits have led to what looks like a hamstring strain. And yes, he's coming off. Spurs are now without wingers. I'm sure it will be to the regret of Redknapp that he didn't name young Andros Townsend on his bench, particularly following a fine performance against Shamrock Rovers in the week.
I'd like to see how many times Adebayor has been flagged offside so far. It ruins a good opportunity as he laid off Assou-Ekotto's early cross to Parker. Though, having said that, Parker's shot was swiped high and wide, so it wouldn't have mattered ultimately. That said, the Togolese has been a bit lazy with his running behind the lines.
Not too much was made of that but it was a genuine chance for Sandro again. Modric's corner found him at the near post totally unmarked but his timing is completely off and he more or less connected with his face rather than forehead and the ball trickled off his knee for a goal kick.
Half chance for Sandro. Again the ball is worked across the midfield as Modric and Assou-Ekotto combine down the left. Parker and Van der Vaart work it more central and as Sandro ran beyond his midfield partners, he latched on to the Dutchman's through ball. His strike wasn't clean though and he dragged it wide.
Spurs have their first spell of meaningful possession in the Sunderland half. The midfield linked well and as Lennon was found with space on the right, his pull-back fell to Assou-Ekotto. His driven left footed strike looked to be going wide but was most certainly diverted wide by Van der Vaart. At the other end, Sessegnon struck the ball over from just outside the box.
Adebayor picked the ball up on the half way line and had a chance to gallop at the Sunderland defence. His final ball wide to Lennon was angled wrong though and Westwood swept up. For those wondering about the shape of the home team Modric is starting off the left flank with Van der Vaart dropping in behind Adebayor and charged with linking the play.
First attacking opportunity for either side has fallen to Sunderland. Seb Larsson had a chance to whip a free kick in from a promising wide area but nothing doing as it was cleared by the first man.
The home side get us underway at White Hart Line.
Kick off fast approaching and it's worth mentioning that Martin O'Neill is unbeaten in his last 3 visits to White Hart Lane. That was for the benefit of any North Londoners were counting this as a certain three points!
For Sunderland, Martin O'Neill names an unchanged team from their 2-1 win over Blackburn. Recently arrested striker Nicklas Bendtner returns to the matchday squad, but only as a substitute as Connor Wickham retains his place up front.
Also returning for Spurs is Ledley King who starts at the heart of defence alongside Gallas. Again, a big risk with the Chelsea game on Thursday.
So some quick reflection on the team news. Firstly the notable absentees for Spurs are Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe who are both out injured. That means a second consecutive start for the Brazilian Sandro and Van der Vaart returns to the starting XI. Scott Parker is one booking away from missing the Chelsea game next week - a big gamble by Redknapp.
Sunderland line-up: Westwood, O'Shea, Bardsley, Brown, Bramble, Richardson, Larsson, Colback, Vaughan, Sessegnon, Wickham. Subs: Cattermole, Gardner, Elmohamady, Bendtner, McClean, Dong-won, Carson.
Tottenham line-up: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Sandro, Modric; Van der Vaart; Adebayor. Subs: Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Kranjcar, Rose, Livermore, Pienaar, Cudicini.
Good afternoon one and all to this manic day of Premier League football! Man Utd have won, Liverpool have an early lead at Villa, leaving the pressure firmly on Tottenham to keep pace. They host Sunderland, who are hoping to continue their revival under Martin O'Neill. Team news on the way.
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