The one. The only. Roman Pavlyuchenko. The master of Row Z is our hero for the afternoon, thanks to his calm and collected finish that gave Tottenham Hotspur three points in their 1-0 victory over Sunderland. Spurs were far from their best without Gareth Bale and looked even more out of sorts when Aaron Lennon went off injured, but they eventually got it together to grind out a win.
This match was actually a lot like last week's. Tottenham were terrible in the first half, then much better in the second half. This match, however, featured three key differences.
1. Sunderland don't have anyone who can finish
2. Sunderland do not randomly elbow people in the groin
3. The referee did not screw us over
Though there were lots of nervous moments simply due to Tottenham not doing a lot with the chances they had and not scoring a second goal, they never really looked under threat. Martin O'Neill has Sunderland playing better, but they're still pretty rubbish, and he can't make strikers appear out of thin air.
The goal came on an absolutely brilliant through ball by Rafael van der Vaart, who was the man of the match for Tottenham. He played a perfectly weighted pass for Pavlyuchenko, who finished with a low shot to the far post from the edge of the penalty area in the 61st minute. Given how poor he looked between when he came on and that finish, it was downright stunning. Perhaps someone told him that he was wearing a Russia shirt at halftime.
VDV would continue to set up virtually every Tottenham move in the second half. With Lennon and Bale out, Harry Redknapp shifted to a narrow diamond midfield with Luka Modric and Scott Parker sandwiched between Sandro at the base and VDV at the tip. All four had very good games, and the primary reason Tottenham didn't score more was...Manny being Manny.
Emmanuel Adebayor was offside EIGHT times in this match. EIGHT. I'm just going to abstain from further commentary and let you think about that.
All in all, a weird game. Not a great performance, but, three points. Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe both got a rest and will be in the 18 for the Chelsea match on Thursday. Younes Kaboul will be back for that match as well. What we do about the right wing...we'll probably discuss extensively on this site over the next few days. COYS.