Tottenham are the visitors to Wearside on Tuesday night. Do we have any hope of getting anything from the match, or should we be listening to that feeling of resignation?
Spurs are on form right now, and have been all season. They’ve lost just twice in the league, away to Man United and Chelsea, and they’re unbeaten in nine in all competitions. They have a strong squad, they’ve had less injuries than most other teams this season, and their players have shown a drive and determination all through the campaign that we can only be envious of.
The thought of Son Heung-Min running freely at John O’Shea or, God help us, Joleon Lescott is one that can easily keep you up at night, while Harry Kane has been in magnificent form lately and must surely fancy his chances against one of the Premier League’s shakiest defences.
So, do we have any positives to look at? Well, if Spurs are going to be caught out in any way, their defence has looked somewhat nervy at times. With the influential Jan Vertonghen sidelined for another couple of months with ankle ligament damage, and Toby Alderweireld 50/50 for Tuesday’s clash, Mauricio Pochettino must hope that his backups can carry his side.
Can they? The jury’s still out. After Alderweireld limped out of Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Man City last week, all three central defenders who finished that match were on the pitch as Wycombe gave them an almighty scare in the FA Cup yesterday. Spurs were horribly vulnerable to crosses and set pieces, so we’ll all be thankful that we can rely on Sebastian Larsson, the world famous free kick specialist who hasn’t scored one in two years.
David Moyes has a selection dilemma on his hands, namely, which 11 players are the least bad? Trying to look into Moyes’ tactical mind would give Uri Geller a headache, but this seems like a likely starting 11: Mannone, Jones, O’Shea, Denayer, Kone, Manquillo, Januzaj, Rodwell, Ndong, Borini, Defoe. It could be that Denayer is moved forward or that we see Larsson or Honeyman make an appearance, but stand back and take a look at that team. Marvel in the achievements of ten years and 170 million quid worth of investment.
To paraphrase Jurgen Klinsmann (he was talking about the German national team and Oliver Kahn), Defoe aside, you could put all of them in a bag and beat it with a stick and whoever got hit would deserve it. None of those players have given us any hope for progress or recovery and while we do have some loyal and hard-working servants of this Club, they’re almost all unavailable to us.
I hope that by the time the transfer window shuts, a shockingly inspired performance has transformed my thoughts so that David Moyes is a tactical mastermind, Ellis Short is a kindly old grandad, and Adnan Januzaj has reached the heady heights of mediocre. As ever with Sunderland, this seems like wishful thinking for the time being.