Five things we learned about Tottenham against Sunderland

Andre Villas Boas 2

Tottenham Hotspur notched a second straight Premier League victory with a 2-1 result over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

The win leaves Spurs just outside of the top five, behind Everton only on goal difference ahead of the Toffees’ encounter with leaders Arsenal on Sunday afternoon, with Liverpool up next on the docket.

Following are five things learned about the White Hart Lane outfit through their triumphant effort over the Black Cats on Wearside.

Hugo Lloris is not infallible

The France number one turned in a brilliant performance midweek to keep Spurs in it long enough to seal a comeback victory against Fulham, but was the guilty party on Adam Johnson’s opener for Sunderland on Saturday evening. Just minutes later Lloris nearly committed another costly error as he spilled an Ondrej Celustka effort from distance and had to be bailed out by his defence after Sebastian Larsson seized on the loose ball. Surely the former Lyon man is one of the world’s best between the pipes, but the pair of miscues serve as a reminder that all goalkeepers can be caught out at times and need adequate protection to guard against such occurrences.

Moussa Dembele is essential for the midfield

A doubt for the Sunderland clash after aggravating a niggling ankle injury at Craven Cottage on Wednesday, the Belgian recovered to play a key role at the weekend. His versatility and dynamism as part of Andre Villas-Boas’ double pivot offered exactly what Spurs needed in the centre of the park, as his strength in possession and bursting runs forward allowed them to exert control over the match, whilst the latter led to Tottenham’s winner five minutes after the break. Linked with a move abroad due to reportedly being unsettled in north London, Dembele must be kept as his positive influence was clear to see.

Jermain Defoe deserves an extended run up front

As Roberto Soldado continues to struggle to adapt to the English game, the Spaniard has been dropped in favour of Defoe for Tottenham’s last two contests. He may have failed to get on the scoresheet against Sunderland but struck the woodwork twice and was perhaps unlucky, causing problems with his runs off the ball in a departure from Soldado’s more static nature. He continues to be paired with an exit to MLS club Toronto FC in January, though the Canadian club have denied such claims and it could be of benefit to Tottenham for Villas-Boas to persist with the Englishman for the time being if he can get into scoring form.

Converting chances still an issue

Tottenham have faced criticism throughout the campaign for taking a high volume of shots but failing to come away with a commensurate amount of goals, and against Sunderland the case was no different. Spurs went for goal 22 times in the win over the Black Cats and hit the target just five times, as they could’ve put the game out of reach during a dominant spell to start the second half yet suffered from profligacy. As previously noted, Defoe was unfortunate to hit the post twice and could pose at least a short term solution to this problem with regular Premier League football under his belt.

Villas-Boas’ relief was palpable

The Portuguese tactician faced mounting reports of an imminent dismissal, but two wins on the bounce have brought a measure of tranquility back to the Tottenham camp. Villas-Boas was visibly relieved at John O’Shea’s own goal for his side’s decisive second and spent the moments after the match grinning widely as he embraced each of his players that had a hand in the victory. For now the seemingly tension has subsided, although the manager will be wary of a tough test coming up with Liverpool that will be a benchmark for recent success.

image: © justinlim

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