How did Spurs beat Sunderland last night? Well, simply put, we scored two goals and the Black Cats did not manage even one. This, despite Harry Redknapp’s best attempts to sabotage a must-win home game which ultimately puts us back into the top four of the Premiership.

Spurs started the match with Luka Modric and Aaron Lennon still unavailable and so Redknapp opted for Crouch/Defoe upfront and a midfield diamond (ala Chelsea) with Keane as the point and Palacios, Jenas and Huddlestone covering the middle of the park. No place for Niko Krancjar again – although he has demonstrated he has more to contribute that either Jenas or Huddlestone on the left side of midfield.

This resulted in a torrid first half with Spurs barely managing to string any attacking plays together. In fact, they only had two shots at goal, one which rather luckily found the back of the net. Assou-Ekotto was given the freedom of the flank to float a good cross which Crouch knocked down and Keane bundled over the line after his first effort was blocked by Sunderland keeper Craig Gordon. How Sunderland did not score in that first half must have truly frustrated manager Steve Bruce.

Clearly the Spurs formation was not working but instead of bringing Krancjar on for Keane at the start of the 2nd half, Redknapp reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 but with Keane on the left side of midfield. This was a disaster waiting to happen and when Gomes was adjudged to have fouled Darren Bent in the box, it looked odds on to be the beginning of the end for Spurs. However, all the pre-match publicity about Bent’s return must have got to him as he totally fluffed his penalty kick and Gomes was able to celebrate a memorable save. For Bent, it capped a miserable day for him as he did nothing to prove that Redknapp was mistaken to release him from the Spurs ranks.

Finally with 30 minutes left on the clock, Kranjcar replaced Keane and immediately Spurs looked a different team and after Kranjcar found Defoe lurking with intent just outside the Sunderland box, Defoe held up play well to set up the erstwhile ineffectual Huddlestone who finished with power and aplomb.

Game over? Not according to Sunderland who manfully pounded the Spurs goal but found Gomes in impervious form even when his defenders were losing their heads around him. Undoubtedly, the man of the match, Gomes showed enough awareness, assurance and agility to justify his acquisition from PSV Eindoven last close season.

With Manchester City once again dropping points, Spurs sneaked into the top four – totally unmerited if based on this performance – but with Modric and Lennon returning soon, Spurs fans can at least take heart from the fact that winning when you’re playing poorly is the mark of a winning mentality, which – whatever his faults may be with choice of tactics – at a minimum, Redknapp has injected into this Spurs team.

Leave a Reply