Since the disastrous defeat at the hands of Citeh two weeks ago we have played four times and quite amazingly scored twice in each – something of a novelty for us especially in the Premiership as we had only achieved that feat once so far this season – away to Aston Villa.
That those goals secured us three wins (one in the Europa admittedly) and one draw (in our only home match in the sequence) means that we are now sitting a lot more comfortably than we were a fortnight ago.
With 15 games gone in the League, we have now played almost every other team – their turn will come very shortly – but it is interesting to look at our results against teams towards the top and towards the bottom of the division.
Against the lower teams – 10th downwards – we have beaten everyone we have played with the notable exception of WetSpam. Against the others within the top nine, we have either drawn (Chelski, Everton or Manure) or lost (Le Arse, Citeh and Newcastle). No wins as yet against any of the teams we are directly competing against for Champions league football next season. And that simply is not good enough.
We need to compete far better against these teams if we are to do well and secure a place in the top competition next year. With Liverpool next up and in freescoring mode we simply have to buck this trend very quickly otherwise we will lose touch and have too much to do to catch up.
With this week´s midweek fixture a dead rubber – we are confirmed as group winners while Anzhi have qualified as well – there is absolutely nothing riding on this match so we can afford to play anyone, and I do mean anyone, just anyone who will not be needed for the following Sunday.
Hopefully this will mean we will be able to get all our central defenders back fit and healthy.
We knew that Vertonghen was going to have the day off at the Stadium of Light due to his foot strain, but where were Chiriches and Kaboul – neither were in the team or on the bench yet nothing apparently from within the club as to why. To be fair Capoue did a great stand-in job alongside Dawson who once again got caught out for pace once or twice but at least neither of them were at fault for Sunderland´s opening goal.
Lloris, being a pure European goalie, has been taught to punch rather than attempt a catch when coming for high balls. This is fine when he gets a good connection and the ball flies away, but on Saturday it simply fell at Johnson´s feet and was swiftly despatched.
But we showed great character to once again come back from behind for the second match in a row.
That we only scored twice was again surprising – yet more shots some on target, some not – and Defoe was getting into scoring positions, hitting the post twice, coming close when he should have put the ball on target and then being wrong footed by a Paulinho cross when a shot was a more likely option.
With a little more composure – or should that be a little more luck – in front of goal JD could have had a hat-trick and that would have made the game so much easier.
Maybe it will come and we will get a hatful in time for Christmas – wouldn´t that just be the best possible present for all us Tottenham fans.