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Match Report: Tottenham 1-0 Sunderland. (A Spurs Fan's Perspective)

Monday 19th December 2011
Spurs swept back into the top three of the Premier League with a tense 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane on Sunday. This victory was not one of Spurs' finest, but it came as top four rivals Chelsea and Arsenal dropped points. The loss of Gareth Bale before kick-off was compounded by Aaron Lennon's hamstring injury midway through the first half. Spurs struggled to penetrate a well organised Sunderland defence. Titus Bramble had the measure of Adebayor, who was too often isolated in attack. While Spurs dominated possession in the first half, they were unable to register a single shot on target for the first time since 2008 (surprisingly in the same fixture). Modric was well below his best and Spurs were unable to get their passing game going. Without their wingers, a vital part of how Spurs play, they will be happy with the result. The return of Ledley King was vital as Kaboul served his one match suspension. Modric initially lined up on the left and was largely ineffectual; although one lovely piece of skill set Assou-Ekotto free down the left wing. Misplaced passes drew groans from an expectant crowd. The injury to Lennon further weakened Spurs' creativity. Harry Redknapp responded by introducing Roman Pavlyuchenko in a move that surprised the fans and pundits. It turned out to be a match winning decision. Pavlyuchenko fired home after a neat reverse pass from Rafael Van der Vaart in the 61st minute. The Dutchman grew into the game and really put on a show in the second half. Despite the absence of Spurs' wingers, Van der Vaart found width and exploited the space as Sunderland pushed for an equaliser. His late withdrawal drew rapturous applause as did the substitution of Sandro, another who impressed. In his first start of the season, the Brazilian made impressive surging runs the first half and was aggressive and resolute in defence as the game wore on.

Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekotto were decisive in this match. Their attacking runs made up for the absence of the wingers and they defended ably. Walker especially, after picking up a yellow card for a succession of rash challenges, showed maturity and was rarely bested. When Martin O'Neil introduced James McClean and the Northern Irish winger formed a dangerous combination with Kieran Richardson, Walker was up to the challenge.
Samuel Rooke

Total articles: 19

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