Sunderland had one whole shot on target and yet Spurs made their way home from the Stadium of Light with just one point after letting in two goals.
You can change the manager, you can change the players but Spurs will always be Spurs and they always come away without three points after battering teams then conceding in the dying minutes at some point in the season.
How many times have we seen it? Spurs being Spurs.
Away to Sunderland, Spurs had all the ball in the first half, yet went in at the break level and one each, they had all the ball in the second half and yet at the final whistle it was still all level, though the score had doubled. At least in the first half Sunderland mustered a shot at goal.
It was apart from that what have the Romans done for us game. Everything was good from the tempo, intent, flair, swagger, nearly the best side. Well in that latter part Pochettino’s hands are slightly tied with certain players’ injuries.
Rejoice, rejoice, no Bentaleb, no Bentaleb anywhere. Not in the starting XI, not on the bench. It’s like Dim never existed. Dembele back, really Dembele back. Don’t think he’s played that well since the start of AVB’s reign when he and Sandro were the best central pairing in the league. This was the Dembele we want to see, running the game, chest puffed out, taking the ball off the opposition, gliding forward past them and actually having pops at goal.
The opener after two minutes came about after the first part of that eulogy, when Dembele won the ball it was quickly on to Eriksen then Lamela, over to Adebayor whose shot was parried by the ‘keeper for Chadli to be in the right spot at the right time, just onside, to score his third of the season.
There had been an earlier attempt – Danny Rose, Danny Rosing a shot, another game where he wasn’t tested and people think he’s the best left-back ever – as the ball wasn’t out of the Sunderland half until they kicked off after Chadli’s goal. It wasn’t long until Spurs were kicking off again.
After eventually getting into the Spurs’ half, Johnson skipped into the box, skipped past Dier, not risking another penalty concession, skipped past Capoue before his shot deflected twice and Rose eventually bundled it in.
All very Spursy.
From then on those in yellow camped in the Sunderland half and proceeded not to increase the lead for the rest of the half. Eriksen, Chadli and Lamela were in the positions you feel suited them best and there was finally guile and craft coming from behind them in the form of Dembele. Just the goals weren’t coming.
Well that long streak of lazy was up front. Again others creaming themselves about him while he ambled about and generally buggered up most of the good chances. One of the worst first touches in professional football. When not hiding behind a defender his dropping deep, or wide, did nobody any favours, he just got in the road, reduced the space and options for others.
The woodwork was Sunderland’s best defender.
The second half pretty much carried on the same as the first after Eriksen put the visitors in the lead, three minutes in. Some free flowing build up from their own half saw Chadli free on the left put the ball into the six yard box. It wasn’t a ball aimed at any particular Spurs player but a ball played into a dangerous area, a bit of defensive faffing about and Eriksen knocks a tap in.
What followed was standard Spurs, wasted chances, hit woodwork. The latter from a particularly good bit of play by Lamela, fighting to keep possession then curling a beauty that would have been a cracking goal. The former say when Vlad charged from the back and played a pinpoint ball to Adebayor who Adebayor’d the situation, ending up on his arse.
The substitutions changed things. Again, like the past few managers subs, Pochettino’s changes were head scratchers. Yes remove Adebayor, by all means, but Chadli and Eriksen’s exits were baffling. Some shape was lost with Chadli’s departure, as his replacement Stambouli played centrally, meaning both Dembele and Eriksen had to shift.
Then later when Rose’s dive, not his first of the afternoon, won a free-kick in the perfect spot for the Dane, Eriksen was on the bench and Lennon was doing nothing on the park. Felt Poyet’s changes made them better, especially Buckley who gave them some go forward, was quite glad he didn’t start, especially if he’d been up against Rose, doubt they would have been so glowing about the left-back then.
By then Kane had scored the equaliser. In such a classic Spurs way as from a free-kick needlessly given away the ball made it’s way right across the box to past the far post where somehow Kane contrived to put it past the unguarded woodwork.
Adebayor says Spurs need to kill off teams when playing like that. Well a striker who could trap a bag of sand would help.
It was only Sunderland but the middle five look like the ideal mixture, in those positions with flexibility. The back still needs work – Rose and Kaboul? – and a striker, hopefully Soldado fit soon and given the chance.
Get that right and the substitutions and Spurs will carry on being Spurs and doing Spurs type things.