The Easter weekend, combined with being ill, have conspired to delay me recording my thoughts on Saturday’s game, though in truth I didn’t have much enthusiasm for the task.
Neither did Spurs. With half a team unavailable, including the entire first choice back four, it wasn’t a particular surprise that we looked out of sorts against Sunderland. Leadership within a defence is so important and without Dawson we didn’t have anyone ready to take that responsibility.
If not for two penalty saves by Gomes, a string of missed opportunities by Sunderland and a disallowed that made a fool of both the referee and Anton Ferdinand, the result could have been quite embarrassing.
Though Gomes can be given credit for saving two of Bent’s three penalties, questions need to be raised about his part in Sunderland’s first goal, when he could only palm Frazier Campbell’s header straight to the waiting Bent. He really should have done better and held on to the ball.
Gomes palmed out another shot in the 29th minute which struck the unfortunate hand of Kyle Walker. Bent converted the penalty to make it 2-0 and after that it was always going to be a struggle to get back into the game and it would have been worse if Bent had not missed his following two penalties.
At half-time Harry took off Bentley and Assou-Ekotto (again) and replaced them with Kranjcar and Defoe. Sunderland were still the better team, but such was their profligacy that we had a chance to get back into the game when Defoe shot wide, before Crouch came off the bench to make it 2-1 with a well-placed header. We didn’t deserve anything other than a loss though and Sunderland finally made sure of the points with a brilliant finish by Zenden.
Given that our back four was so inexperienced, perhaps we could have helped them more by playing a less attacking midfield. Modric can do a job in the centre but his forays leave Palacios exposed and with Wilson doing his utmost to not get booked, he was never going to be at his most effective.
Livermore was on the bench and if he’s not going to get a chance during an injury crisis like this, then we might as well flog him in the summer. From what I’ve seen of him he looks physically strong and unless he’s given a chance, how’s he ever going to prove that he can do a job? Look at how Sunderland threw Jordan Henderson in at the deep end when they had their injury problems in midfield. He’s ended up playing 23 games this season.
The result was made worse by the fact that Manchester City beat Burnley 6-1, though at half-time in that one I was expecting it to be much worse. That score saw City leapfrog us into fourth and cut our goal difference advantage to just two.
I still think that there’s all to play for. City’s game against Birmingham this weekend is probably their easiest, before playing United, Arsenal, Villa, us and West Ham. Those are difficult games, especially if West Ham are in need of points at Upton Park on the last day of the season.
We now need to win at least one of our upcoming home games against Arsenal and Chelsea to keep on City’s tail. Liverpool’s result against Birmingham means that they need to win the majority of their remaining games, which won’t be easy considering they have to play Chelsea and Benitez keeps substituting their best players.
So chins up and lets look forward to the what will be the most important week of our season. It’s frightening, but games like these are the very reason we all watch football. Come on you Spurs!