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Sunderland AFC v tottenham (h)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

It’s 11am and I’m wondering what kind of team we’ll be putting out this evening as several issues are still up in the air with the transfer window reaching its climax and the fitness of players coming back from the ACON being unclear. I liked PVA but he was a liability as a defender and if he didn’t want to play for us any more, then we had to cash him in. For a change we actually made a big profit on a player and it of course released funds for other signings. I can’t say the arrival of Gibson fills me with enthusiasm and on an Everton message-board several Everton fans were offering to drive him to Sunderland themselves but Oviedo, and to a lesser extent Lescott, might be good assets. At the very least we needed some more bodies to fill the ranks and though the first two arrived too late for today’s game, both of them will probably be in the squad for the Palace match. Hopefully Ndong and Kone will be playing tonight but Khazri seems to be on his way out and that’s something I really don’t understand. Fab will probably be off too and much as I’ve liked him in the past, he’s done next to nothing in recent months apart form that great goal at Man United. There’s speculation that we’re swapping him for Swansea’s Barrow and from what I recall, he seemed handy. If the Ulloa deal ever goes through, I’d be happy but I don’t like the sound of him threatening to go on strike. I know I shouldn’t say it but I was rather pleased when I heard about Papy’s four match ban as the lad is too much of a liability. Anyway, all form would suggest we’ll get another good hiding tonight but the floodlights have often brought out the best in us. Despite playing awfully for far too long, somehow we’re just one win away from climbing out of the bottom three as most of our rivals have kept losing too. I’m keeping a close eye on Leicester as they could well lose the plot completely. Hull are away to Man United tomorrow and Palace are away at Bournemouth tonight so anything we can get against Spurs will probably move us up a place or two. We’ve done well against Palace at Selhurst Park in the last two seasons and I think we’ll get at least a point there on Saturday so another point this evening will set us up nicely. Match prediction: 1-1.

When I got the team-news around 7.00, I was glad to see both Kone and Ndong in there while Fab was starting so he mustn’t be going anywhere. Lescott was on the bench and it was good to see Gooch back there too. A colleague of mine who’s a Spurs fan was at the match and he texted me to say he was a bit alarmed by Vorm replacing Lloris but hoped we’d lose 1-0 as we have on the two previous occasions he’d seen us this season.

I got the match online and was pleased at the way Seb and Rodwell were tackling hard from the off. Spurs won a corner in the fifth minute and following a terrible clearance by Denayer they soon had another one but we managed to clear the danger.
Rodwell had tried a couple of good long distance passes against West Brom that didn’t quite come off but he managed an even better one that reached Defoe who got a shot in that went for our first corner. Our fans were lifted by this and were making a good racket but there were plenty of empty seats visible. At the fifteen minute mark I thought we’d done pretty well and were showing plenty of fight despite Spurs having more of the pressure. We won a free-kick in a good area but as usual duffed it by passing it along the ground to Kone on the right and he was judged to be offside. Borini should’ve done a lot better when Defoe fed him on the left of their box but he failed to meet the ball properly and the Spurs defence had time to block it. He did a lot better two minutes later when he burst through and got a shot on target but Vorm saved it. Next thing Wanyama had a decent long-distance shot that Vito palmed away.

My colleague texted me to say we were making it tough for them by being tidy and compact at the back but he predicted Spurs would get something via the byline soon.

At the half-hour mark it was a case of so far, so good. Rodwell was probably lucky to escape a red card when he made a very heavy lunge at Dembele. Next thing Wanyama fouled Rodwell and from the resultant free-kick… well, I don’t really have to tell you what happened, do I? Danny Rose came off worse in a tough clash with Jones and had to be subbed by Davies. There was a decent ripple from our fans as he went off. We were pressing a lot and won another corner after Jones had done well down the right to put a cross in for Defoe. Neither side was taking any prisoners and Seb and Walker were on the deck after a clash of heads but both recovered. It remained goalless at the break and I was happy with that. It was certainly a great deal better than last time out. My mate texted again and rued the absence of Rose.

Spurs looked dangerous right from the restart when a low cross went right through our box. They soon won a corner too but we cleared it and they quickly won another two in a row. Rodwell was having a decent match! He was really getting stuck in, a bit too much at times, but you couldn’t fault his commitment. Vito saved well from an Eriksen free-kick as Spurs piled on the pressure. We came through it all and at the hour-mark it was still 0-0. Kane hit the ground in our box but there was no penalty and we breathed again. A Walker shot was deflected over and then a Wanyama header did the same while Spurs kept piling up those corners. Manquillo went in the book as we conceded a free-kick in a dangerous spot but Vito collected easily. With just under twenty minutes to go Honeyman replaced Fab and I felt that was good as he was great against West Brom and could give us a shot in the arm by helping to keep the ball away from our box. Sissoko came on for Son and he received the expected welcome from our fans but my heart sank as I rate him as an attacker. Fifteen minutes to go and I tried not to think about a point. Ten minutes to go and the nerves were really kicking in for me. Janssen subbed Dembele, who knew he’d been in a game all right. We’d hardly had an attack worthy of the name for ages but we were defending well, especially O’Shea. There were two minutes of stoppage-time and we conceded a corner in the dying seconds from which Dier headed just wide but that whistle finally went and there was considerable applause from our fans.

I was very happy with this result and though we rode our luck at the back on occasions, we defended well and deserved the point. The night was clouded by Palace and Swansea both winning but Leicester lost again. See you at Selhurst Park.

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