The bittersweet agony of losing a match you dominated makes it difficult to sleep for days. Tottenham were undone after some poor marking at a corner and Pochettino seemingly spent the rest of the game shaking his head in angry disbelief. Sunderland have picked a bad time to visit White Hart Lane with Spurs looking to bounce back. However, the Black Cats enjoyed a roaring success in their last match over Swansea—and despite some help from the referee, looked like they have a good chance of escaping the threat of relegation. Will they have enough to deliver a second shock to Spurs?
Patrick van Aanholt
The Dutch left back has been one of Sunderland’s best performers all season statistically and put in a superb showing against Swansea to let the rest of the league know that the Black Cats are going to fight to stay up. He is unlikely to have it so easy against the likes of Erik Lamela and Christian Eriksen however, and is going to have to defend a lot more than he gets forward. Van Aanholt makes 3 clearances and 2 interceptions on average per game, hinting that Sunderland may be willing to play it safe against Tottenham’s well-oiled attack.
Yet another English player off the Spurs conveyor belt, Tom Carroll has been playing with skill and confidence as a diminutive regista. Although the Englishman doesn’t offer the same vertical passing Ryan Mason does or the driving runs that Alli makes, Carroll has not looked out of place. At 23 he is actually one of Spurs’ older players, and still has room to develop and progress. How Swansea might have liked to keep him had they known he would kick on from his loan in Wales.
Described as ‘evergreen’ in almost every paper since the weekend, Defoe continues to score goals when given the opportunity. However, this narrative ignores (as always) that Defoe’s purple patches can come years apart from each other—and that when he’s not on form he can even be something of a liability. His shoot-on-sight philosophy can surrender possession needlessly at times, especially if the opposition keep the ball in play following his shot. That being said, a hat trick in the Premier League at age 33 is no mean feat and Defoe is a deadly threat when he’s in form like this. Will it continue against one of the best defences in the league though?
The Argentinian may have had an elongated settling in period, but he has well and truly arrived. Although Spurs may have lost to Leicester, Lamela battled for the ball all game, winning possession and playing some wonderful improvised passes to keep Tottenham’s attack moving. His attitude reflects that of the team which is great to see after seeming like an outsider for so long.