The team played well but individuals also stepped up to the mark and performed with credit showing that their confidence is returning after a good week for them and the club.
The Tottenham players have pulled together over the past fortnight since the embarrassment of the defeat at Manchester City. At both Fulham and Sunderland they have recovered from going behind to go on and record important wins for the club which have taken them back into 6th place in the Premier League. It has enabled them to reclaim some of the ground lost due to disappointing results during November.
Hugo Lloris: he will be disappointed with the goal that he conceded as it came as a direct result of a poor attempted punch to a hopeful long cross into the area. The ball fell to Adam Johnson who rifled a shot past the fallen Lloris. Spurs quick response to that set-back eased the pressure on Lloris and he played comfortably through the remainder of the match. Dawson helped him when he cleared after Lloris was only able to push out a cross when Spurs should have been awarded a free-kick for a foul on Etienne Capoue during the build-up to the incident. When questioned after the game about his goalkeeper’s mistake, Andre Villas-Boas reminded the interviewer that Lloris had produced a number of crucial saves in the previous match to ensure Spurs took the three points.
Kyle Walker: he often comes in for criticism from fans but he had another good game, both defensively and in attack. He was strong in defence and linked well with Aaron Lennon on the right where Spurs created the greatest problems for Sunderland. His turn of pace when he suddenly sets off on a forward foray is fantastic to see and his delivery into the opposing penalty area was very good.
Etienne Capoue: he played his first game for Tottenham in central defence and gave a very composed and assured display. He has played in that position for his previous club, Toulouse, and showed his versatility against Sunderland. He was comfortable on the ball and was quick to step forward to intercept the ball.
Michael Dawson: has been somewhat uncertain in recent games but gave a much better display on Saturday. He battled well against the aerial threat of the two Sunderland strikers and came to the aid of Lloris with a clearance late on when the ball ran loose in the area late in the game. As captain he led by example and worked well with Capoue.
Kyle Naughton: he is another full-back who comes in for criticism. Left back is not his preferred position and he has been caught in possession in previous matches as he’s tried to play the ball with his favoured right foot. At the Stadium of Light he had a very steady game and grew in confidence as the match progressed. If he were to play like that regularly he could fill in on the left until Danny Rose returns to fitness which would allow Jan Vertonghen, if he shakes off his injury problem, to return to central defence.
Paulinho: he had a good all-round game and had an impact all over the pitch. As one of the two defensive central midfielder players, he still had time to go forward into the area to support Jermain Defoe and the attacking midfield players. He scored the equalising goal and could have had another when he missed a golden opportunity in front of goal from a cross from the right.
Mousa Dembele: like Paulinho he impressed in defence and attack. His run forward and movement into the area brought about the winning goal when his shot deflected off a defender. He showed a greater appetite to carry the ball forward and take on players which is to be encouraged.
Aaron Lennon: playing on the right allows Lennon to be at his best. He was a constant problem in attack for the home defenders and he showed a great understanding of his role when Walker went forward, dropping back to cover defensively, which he did willingly for the team. He links well with Walker and it is a very good partnership. Hopefully, the experiment of playing him on the left has been put to bed so that he can play in his best position, on the right wing.
Lewis Holtby: he carried on from where he left off at Craven Cottage. He has great energy and is always looking for the ball and tries to keep pace and movement in the game with crisp passes as he looks to find a way of creating a ball into the opposing penalty area. He works very hard all round the pitch and constantly wanting the ball, pressing and closing down defenders – never giving them time to settle.
Nacer Chadli: he probably wouldn’t be many supporters choice to start in the team but he is very effective in his role. As last week, he worked very hard on the left, supporting the full back and played in a very disciplined fashion. His height is also very useful defensively at set-pieces but also in attack. He won headers at corners and then for Paulinho’s equaliser, he got his head to a cross which looked to have been over hit. From beyond the back post, he put the ball back into the area allowing Paulinho to force the ball home.
Jermain Defoe: retained as the lone striker ahead of Roberto Soldado, he worked hard and was unfortunate to have two efforts hit the post. He should have done better with an effort he put across the goalkeeper and beyond the far post when played into the area by Holtby.
Sandro: he replaced Dembele who looked to be suffering with his hip problem. He gave another totally committed performance but was fortunate not to concede a penalty when a cross from a corner hit his arm.
Andros Townsend: his performance on the left after coming on for Holtby almost started perfectly when his first run and cross set up Defoe but the striker’s effort on goal hit the post. His pace was a threat to the defenders and this game demonstrated how effective he can be on the left wing.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: a late replacement for Chadli who had moved into the central role when Holtby went off. He came on for the last few minutes to ensure Spurs saw out the game and took the three points.