Tottenham 5 Sunderland 1: Three talking points
Tottenham 5 Sunderland 1: Three talking points as Spurs thrash the Black Cats at White Hart Lane
Lack of firepower surely dooms Sunderland
The entirety of Sunderland’s miseries and shortcomings this season were epitomised succinctly at White Hart Lane by one seemingly insignificant first-half free-kick. It was in a dangerous position out wide – the sort where ‘the big boys are sent up from the back’ – and the two players stood over it were their two strikers. Adam Johnson left the ball for Fabio Borini’s hugely optimistic effort to be deflected harmlessly behind. No target to hit, nobody to fling themselves at the ball other than three centre-halves with just seven goals between them in almost 400 Premier League appearances. The problems started back in the summer when Paolo Di Canio adopted a policy of signing as many has-been’s, will-be’s and never-were’s as he could shake a garlic bread stick at. £27m was invested in the squad but across 13 players. With the exception of Emanuele Giaccherini, who has fallen by the wayside under the new management, none looked capable of improving an already struggling and aging squad. Jozy Altidore may have cost £8m but anyone who observed his previous Premier League stint at Hull will not be surprised he has flopped dramatically. With the core of the team made up almost exclusively of players who will soon need replacing, the damage of relegation may be more permanent for Sunderland than it has been on their previous three trips to the second tier.
Sherwood goes back to basics
When rumours arise over a manager’s future, it usually brings with it an increase in pressure and tension. So slow and public has been the descent of the axe onto Tim Sherwood’s neck, from a position that was only semi-permanent from the start, it might just be the closure he needs to play with more freedom. Yet again they were almost undone by individual defensive errors but on the night they did more than enough to merit the win. They were never too troubled at the back but it was going forward that Spurs looked a different proposition. Sherwood reverted back to the 4-4-2 formation that proved so successful in his first few weeks at the helm and they looked like a new team. The dual threat of Harry Kane and Emmanuel Adebayor gave the Sunderland defence plenty of problems and provided Christian Eriksen with runs to find, which the Dane did superbly. A late Sunderland collapse gave the score line a somewhat flattering look but it was a display that makes you wonder how differently things could have gone for the apparently outgoing manager.
Kane stakes his claim
Kane was this week’s surprise selection in an ever-changing Tottenham team. Romantics might suggest it was Sherwood’s knowledge of the youth system and his willingness to promote youth that allowed Kane the opportunity to flourish on his first league start for the club. In truth, he would never have got a look in at what should have been such a crucial stage of the season had it not been for the woeful form of Roberto Soldado. The Spaniard’s lacklustre displays were the reason Sherwood initially changed from the formation that had served him well during his honeymoon period to a system under which it has all gone wrong. Whatever the reason for his inclusion, Kane was magnificent and could, perhaps should, have scored more than just his solitary strike. It would be a huge surprise if he doesn’t become a regular selection for the remainder of the campaign.