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Sunderland Preview & Preferred Team: No More North-East Misery Please

It’s been a manic day so far. First I wrote a fantastic piece on Jermaine Jenas, then West Ham won the preferred bidder status for the Olympic Stadium (or did we lose it?) and now Harry Redknapp’s appeal against tax evasion charges has been turned down and he’ll face trial later this year. Isn’t this what being a Spurs fan is all about?

If we keep our fingers crossed for long enough we might be able to concentrate on matters on the pitch a little bit more now which is a saving grace if I ever heard one. Whether you were anti-Stratford, pro-Stratford or had a leg dangling from either side of the fence you must be as tired of the whole episode as I am. So, onto a trip to Wearside and a chance to not only move into the top 4 again but also win our 1000 point in premier league history.

There aren’t many guarantees in football but here are a few I’d put money on tomorrow:

  • It won’t be an easy game to win for either side
  • Sunderland will probably take the lead but Spurs will claw it back
  • There won’t be many goals

Some sweeping statements there I hear you cry, but it’s never an easy game when we visit the Stadium of Light. The last time we won there I was a fresh faced 22 year old without a care in the world. Now I’m married!! ;) I remember that win strangely enough because if I remember rightly Sunderland had a chance to go top of the league but for the second season on the trot we managed to beat them in their own backyard. How things have changed since then though, with 2 draws and 3 defeats in our last 5 visits.

According to the BBC, Sunderland have dropped 17 points from winning positions this season and we’ve won 17 points from losing positions. So as I said, expect an early Sunderland goal only for us to grab a late equaliser. That’s if there are any goals at all. Sunderland have struggled to score this season and with the departure of Darren Bent they lost their top scorer, but Gyan has looked dangerous of late although he’s still a little hit and miss. Much like our very own Pavlyuchenko, on his day he could destroy us. We on the other hand have our two leading scorers, Bale and van der Vaart on the sidelines, so quite where our goals are going to come from I’m not sure. Time for someone else to step up. Defoe?

The one way I believe you can stop Sunderland is to stop them playing through the middle. A great way to stop Chelsea playing is to stop their attacks down the flanks and make them do something they prefer not to, attack through the middle. We’re very much the same as I’m sure you’ve seen from visiting teams at White Hart Lane. Sunderland are different in the fact that they like to attack centrally so if we pack the central areas and make them play it wide we should stand a better chance of winning.

The one draw back to that is we would also lack width which is one of our string points but without the likes of Bale and vdV that might not be the case. There’s really only Lennon now who can offer pace and likes to stay wide where possible so I’d play a 4-1-3-2 formation like this:


Corluka     Dawson     Gallas     Ekotto


Lennon     Jenas     Pienaar

Defoe     Crouch

You could interchange Pav in there for Defoe or Crouch if you would prefer but you get the idea. Much like against Bolton if we had possession it would be up to Corluka and Ekotto to offer width when necessary but Lennon and Pienaar would also drift that way. The benefit is clear to see though, if we can win the midfield battle we give ourselves a much better chance of keeping possession and winning the game. It would also free up Palacios to keep an eye on Richardson who has been told in recent games to push forward when possible to support Gyan. This tactic has resulted in a few goals but all have come centrally which is why we need to tighten this area up.

I would expect an easy formation though of 4-4-2 with Lennon moving back to his preferred right side and Pienaar coming in for the injured vdV. Both formations are very similar and with the players we’ve got we should have the flexibility to switch between varying styles of 4-4-2 throughout the game. We often end up playing 4-3-3 with vdV in the team, even away from home.

Whatever we do it’ll be on at a stupid time of day thanks to TV coverage so those making the trip I hope you haven’t lost too much money on cancelled train tickets etc with the short notice they gave. With regards to the importance of the game, I’ve got an opinion I think many will disagree with. To me, it’s more important than the AC Milan tie. There I said it. Financially of course it’s not but if we can keep our 2 game winning streak going for as long as possible before we enter the final month of the season we could find ourselves guaranteed Champions League football again next year and that’s gotta be worth more than one more glory, glory night. Hasn’t it?


Submitted by THFC1882

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