Our footy scribe takes a closer look at the matchup between Tottenham and Sunderland.
Aside from the weirdness of witnessing a Champions League match at Wembley on Wednesday night, audiences were treated to some of the difficulties that will face Tottenham this season. Balancing European and domestic commitments is going to be Pochettino’s greatest task this season. They dominated the game but just couldn’t put Monaco away.
Sunderland have more fundamental issues to deal with. They are a side in perpetual turmoil, and David Moyes has hardly placated doubters with a rather pessimistic vision of their future.
Tottenham v Sunderland | Sunday 18 September | White Hart Lane | 17:30
To Win (90 Mins)
Spurs will welcome Moussa Dembele's return to the side. His return following suspension saw an immediate injection of energy in the deeper midfield position. The Belgian's ability to hold the ball and surge will likely see him slot in alongside Eric Dier - who has just committed himself to the side by signing a new five-year contract. Son was taking off at half-time and will likely slot back into the starting eleven for the weekend. He was sensational at Stoke and Erik Lamela was probably their most disappointing player against Monaco.
Dele Alli will probably play in a more advanced role, keen to exploit a drab Sunderland side. The continued absence of Lee Cattermole leaves a huge void in that space in front of the defence. Jan Kirchhoff and Jack Rodwell just lack the mobility and tenacity to subdue top quality players. Van Aanholt will feel confident that he could exploit Kyle Walker’s flank if the entrenched English full-back gets too carried away with their likely dominance of possession. Harry Kane, fresh from getting off the mark last weekend, will relish the opportunity to take on Papy Djilobodji and Kone.
David Moyes is probably starting to wonder why he didn’t stay in Spain. And the real problem for Moyes is his relative lack of options. It’s not as if drafting Victor Anichebe into the side is going to change proceedings. Steven Pienaar looks far from fully fit. They will at least feel that Kone’s bitter dispute with the club has been alleviated after the embattled centre-half signed a new five-year contract with the club. Djilobodji had a shocker against Everton and will need to improve dramatically this week. Rodwell looks vaguely like a man suffering from mild amnesia, unsure of how exactly he got where he is. The Manchester City curse on the young English footballer is a real thing.
I think that Moyes may have to shake things up further up the field. Gooch may be sacrificed to make way for Borini: the former Liverpool man will play in a wider role and try to support Jermaine Defoe. You feel that Borini off the left and Januzai off the right seems a reasonably threatening front three. There is counterattacking potential there if their midfield is able to secure possession. I just can’t see the likes of Rodwell and Kirchhoff being competitive enough against Dier and Dembele.
Verdict: Tottenham Win (3/10)
I would go for the Halftime-Fulltime Double here, but Spurs do have a habit of warming themselves into matches. They will be keen to offset a disappointing showing in Europe, and the visit of potential league whipping boys Sunderland should offer solace to Pochettino.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets