Tottenham Hotspur made life difficult for themselves as David Moyes’s Sunderland side valiantly fought of a wasteful Tottenham side.
Spurs had 31 attempts at goal throughout the match but The Black Cats managed to hold on as they only conceded due to an individual mistake, which gifted Harry Kane his second goal of the season.
After their disappointment in the Champions League Tottenham had to bounce back with a dominating display against Sunderland. With the only real problem that Tottenham faced being their wastefulness in front of goal.
Powerful starting XI
While the need to rotate players cannot be ignored, Tottenham’s starting team was set up to counter a defensive Sunderland side. With Mauricio Pochettino expecting Sunderland to have ten men behind the ball he started the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele, creating a powerful midfield. All four players are physically strong and can pass players with more ease due to this and so it was expected that this would be how Tottenham would attack. In previous games where Spurs have encountered teams that have happily sat behind the ball the Lilywhites have struggled to break them down; intricate footwork and passes from Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela would often fail due to the lack of space. On top of this the fact that both attacking players would usually cut into the centre of the pitch swamps an already congested area making it even more difficult for Spurs to break down such teams.
The game however saw a more forceful approach with Sissoko, Dembele and Wanyama, paired with Heung-Min Son run at players to create chances. By the time Lamela came onto the pitch Sunderland were looking for an equaliser and so were a lot more open meaning that his style of play was as effective.
Last season Pochettino was criticised for not having a 'Plan B' yet today’s game showed that that was more likely to do with the lack of players that he had at his disposal.
After a tough start to life in North London the South Korean has started to show his true colours in the Premier League. In the last two games Son has been key in Tottenham’s attacks as his quick feet and ability to take on players in the final third have provided Spurs with a new attacking treat. Throughout the match Son produced a constant attacking threat on the left flank. The South Korean international produced 15 crosses in total proving how influential he was through out the game. He was most definitely the Man of the Match today.
Injury worries for Spurs
Injuries concerns were not common for Tottenham last season and so it is a strange feeling for fans to be back filled with anxiety over the health of their players. Tottenham used all three of their substitutions in todays match due to injury concerns. Since Pochettino has confirmed that Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier should be fit for Tottenham’s clash against Middleborough next weekend, as they only suffered cramp, while Harry Kane will be properly assessed tomorrow. Kane has since been spotted leaving the stadium in a protective boot and on crutches after injuring his ankle and being substituted off. However these are not the only players that were battling with problems during the game as both Victor Wanyama and Kyle Walker were seen grabbing their hamstrings throughout the game.
One reason for this is the fact that Tottenham had 14 players feature for their countries this summer; 12 in the European Championship, one in the Copa America and one in the Olympics. This meant that only two players out of the 14 that featured today (Vincent Janssen and Wanyama) did not feature for their country in the summer. The players that were involved in this summer’s international duty all had a shorter break over summer as well as a shorter preseason to regain fitness. On top of this majority of the players that did travel were first team members last season and endured a tough, tiring campaign.
Another reason for the injuries could be Tottenham’s midweek battle in the Champions League. Playing on a bigger pitch at Wembley meant that Tottenham did have to work harder and run more in their midweek game than they are used two. While Pochettino did rest Eriksen and Lamela today, 10 of the starting XI featured against Monaco.
However, apart from the injury to Kane there shouldn’t be major concern for Tottenham as their transfer dealings have left them with good strength in depth.