Tottenham Hotspur put together a dominant second half of football, scoring three goals en route to a 4-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday at White Hart Lane. Christian Eriksen led the way with a brace, and Spurs also had goals from Mousa Dembele and Harry Kane.
Sam Allardyce set up his team in a 4-4-1-1 with Jermain Defoe leading the line, and clearly instructed his players to sit back and counter. That meant that Tottenham ended up with the vast majority of the possession and a lot of time on the ball. However, as an indication on how difficult it is to break down a bunkered Sam Allardyce-managed side, Spurs had difficulty getting open shots on goal in the first half, and even more trouble finishing.
Dele Alli had one of the better chances, who latched onto a rebounded ball on the box, but he wasn't able to control it and his chance went over the bar. Erik Lamela had probably the best chance to score as Spurs went on a 5-2 counterattack midway through the half. Lamela had four white shirts in the center of the pitch, but he opted to shoot at the far post, and he put it just wide.
And it was Sunderland that scored first, well against the run of play. In the 40th minute Adam Johnson took advantage of a Spurs defensive miscue to put a beautiful ball into the box for Patrick van Aanholt, who smashed it past Lloris to put the Black Cats up 1-0.
Thankfully, Tottenham responded almost immediately: Christian Eriksen got ahold of a rebounded effort and put a ball off of Lee Cattermole on the Sunderland line. The ball dinged off the crossbar and in, and Spurs leveled the score.
Eriksen had a chance to put Spurs ahead, but his shot late in the half was parried away by EPL debutant keeper Jordan Pickford. The first half ended level at 1-1.
The second half was more of the same: Sunderland parked the bus and waited for Spurs to make a mistake, and Spurs enjoyed almost all of the ball but had difficulty getting good shots on target.
Spurs nearly conceded early in the half after a botched corner kick led to a Sunderland counterattack. Defoe had a good look at goal but put his shot into the side netting. Spurs had a decent chance a few minutes later after Erik Lamela chipped a ball into the box. Dele Alli was there to meet it, but his header went just wide of the post.
Spurs finally broke through in the 60th minute. Danny Rose tried a shot from outside the box off a Spurs corner that was well saved by Pickford. The rebound went to Mousa Dembele who took two dribbles and fired a low shot past the keeper at the near post to put Spurs up 2-1.
The goal opened Sunderland up, and Spurs took advantage. Christian Eriksen scored his second in the 68th minute when his shot took a wicked deflection off of Jan Kirchhoff and went in the top corner past Pickford. It was no less than Spurs deserved after a period of dominance, and Spurs led 3-1.
And it got worse for Sunderland. In the 78th minute, Kirchhoff brought down a rushing Danny Rose in the box, and Mike Dean pointed to the spot immediately. Harry Kane fired home the penalty, and Spurs had four.
It was all Spurs from there on out and they were happy to see off the remainder of the game. The match ended 4-1.
- Anyone who didn't expect Sunderland to park men behind the ball and attempt to counter doesn't know Sam Allardyce. Sunderland had a game plan and executed it well in the first half. Their goal came from a good pass and a Tottenham defense that switched off at a key moment.
- That said, the moment Spurs went ahead in the second half, that was the beginning of the end. Sunderland aren't nearly as effective when they're forced to actually push forward for a goal. They were opened up like a can.
- Jan Kirchhoff had an absolute nightmare on his Sunderland debut, to Tottenham's direct benefit. Spurs scored a minute after he came on as a third center back, he deflected Eriksen's second goal into the net, and took out Danny Rose to earn Kane's penalty goal. Thanks for that, Jan!
- Mousa Dembele looked rusty early today, which is probably to be expected. His strength on the ball and pressing were again crucial to Spurs' midfield game, but he was a little wayward with his passing early on. That said, he flat out ran the offense for large stretches of the game, and had a nice goal. It's good to have him back.
- Jermain Defoe did virtually nothing against Spurs' defense apart from one dangerous counter-attack, which is pretty much down to Janby Alderweirtonghen, who seldom let him see any daylight.
- Christian Eriksen was really, really good today, scoring a brace, counter-pressing with aplomb, and pulling strings in midfield. Still don't understand why people want to bench him.
- I thought Kieran Trippier had an uneven performance, but he's undoubtedly effective in a match like this one against a bunkered defense. I'm not sure if his selection was tactical or rotation, but it worked on balance, and it got Kyle Walker a rest.
- Four goals, big home win, job done. Spurs now four points from the top of the league (before Arsenal and Leicester's matches).