Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sunderland  1 - 0


Premier League: Tottenham 1 Sunderland 0

18 December 2011 18:09

A second-half strike from Roman Pavlyuchenko helped Tottenham see off Sunderland 1-0 and leapfrog Chelsea into third in the Premier League.

The result sees Harry Redknapp's men return to winning ways after a disappointing week which included defeat away at Stoke and exit from the Europa League, and means they have still only suffered league defeat once at White Hart Lane this season.

For Sunderland and new boss Martin O'Neill, however, the 'honeymoon period' appears to be already over, with defeat in north London leaving them poised precariously just two points above the relegation zone.

It took 12 minutes for the first clear chance of the match to arrive and, when it did, it predictably fell to Spurs.

With Luka Modric drifting inside from a starting position on the left flank in Gareth Bale's absence, the onus was on Benoit Assou-Ekotto to provide an attacking threat out wide. The Cameroonian brought down Aaron Lennon's cross on the edge of the Sunderland area before unleashing a fierce drive which looked goalbound until it struck Rafael van der Vaart and flew well wide.

The Black Cats' attempts to bring lone striker Connor Wickham into the game with long, hopeful high balls were proving futile.

The home side's likeliest route to a goal appeared to be the pacey double-act of Lennon and Kyle Walker on the right, until the former pulled up with a hamstring injury with less than half an hour on the clock.

Out-of-favour Russian Pavlyuchenko replaced Lennon as Spurs switched to a more conventional 4-4-2.

This tactical reshuffle caused Tottenham to lose a little momentum, and Sunderland began to gain a foothold. Kieran Richardson stung the palms of Brad Friedel with a firm drive, before Sebastian Larsson's misdirected low cross denied the onrushing former Manchester United winger a simple tap-in.

The two teams competed on much more even terms until the interval. Assou-Ekotto's dangerous low cross somehow eluded several team-mates before Larsson tested Friedel with a trademark free-kick. It was Spurs who had the final say though, with Pavlyuchenko missing by inches.

Sunderland started the second half in confident mood, with David Vaughan marauding forward to force Friedel into another save from range.

Spurs, seeking to re-assert their authority, rallied and pushed the visitors back. Surging through the middle, Van der Vaart fired a right-footed shot from distance which, having caught a deflection off Wes Brown, sent Kieran Westwood scrambling for his post before trickling wide.

Sunderland became stretched in their attempts to counter, and Spurs took full advantage on the hour mark. A clever reverse pass from Van der Vaart sent Pavlyuchenko racing into the area, and the Russian arrowed a low shot right-footed past Westwood into the far corner.

Now on the front foot, Spurs went looking to kill the game off. They had the perfect chance when Westwood parried Emmanuel Adebayor's chipped finish straight into the path of Modric, but the Croatian managed to scoop his shot over an empty net from a matter of yards out.

Undeterred, Spurs continued to pour forward in search of a winner. First Van der Vaart fired tamely into the grateful arms of Westwood, before Walker sent the Sunderland keeper scrambling across his goal once more with a scuffed long-range strike.

Sunderland were having to defend doggedly just to keep within touching distance of their hosts, as Spurs undermined their own attempts to double their lead with some poor decision-making in the final third.

Adebayor, Pavlyuchenko and Van der Vaart went closest to a second late on, but one goal was ultimately enough to secure the win for the home side.


Premier League preview: Tottenham v Sunderland

16 December 2011 13:29

Tottenham Hotspur take on Sunderland at White Hart Lane as Harry Redknapp tries to get his side back to winning ways.

Tottenham lost 2-1 at Stoke City last weekend, ending their 11-match unbeaten run and six-game winning streak in the Premier League.

Despite beating Shamrock Rovers 4-0 in the Europa League in Dublin on Thursday, Spurs were eliminated from the tournament after losing to Rubin Kazan and PAOK, who qualified at the top of Group A.

Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar was impressive in his central playmaking role as he made his return from a thigh injury against Shamrock Rovers after being out injured with Croatia since November.

"Niko Kranjcar was fantastic," manager Harry Redknapp said on Thursday.

"That was his first game for a couple of months and he only had two days' training."

Ledley King is still out with a knee injury sustained in training before Tottenham's win over Bolton, while Roman Pavlyuchenko did not travel to Dublin because of back trouble.

Steve Pienaar and Jermain Defoe made rare starts for Tottenham with both scoring against Rovers but with Emmanuel Adebayor on fire with eight goals and five assists in 12 games, the Togo striker will likely start on Sunday alongside Rafael Van der Vaart, who has scored six league goals so far.

Martin O'Neill started his reign as new manager of Sunderland with a 2-1 win over Blackburn after Sunderland had gone five matches without a victory.

Swedish midfielder Sebastian Larsson has been instrumental in midfield this season, his injury time free-kick winner against Blackburn bringing his league goals tally to five this season.

O'Neill believes Spurs are on their way to becoming a top-four side but is confident the key to success against Spurs is to attack them.

"We have to go there, play well and play positively," he said. "The victory on Sunday gave us more encouragement and confidence."

"It will be a tough assignment but I think the players are capable of doing it."

"We will create chances in the game, there's no question about that. We have to try and take them."

"Tottenham, as is their wont, will create chances too and we have to do our very best to prevent that."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25