Sunderland vs Spurs is how we return to Premier League action, so we breakdown Dick Advocaat’s Black Cats.
A trip to the Stadium of Light is never easy, but if you can turn up the pressure on the Black Cats’ weak spots then anything is possible. So, what can we expect and what should we be on the lookout for in the Tottenham tactics for Sunderland vs Spurs this time?
Where Sunderland concede
Last season Dick Advocaat guided Sunderland to safety by having them play a very defensive 4-3-3 in which they were compact, resolute and strong. They didn’t ship many goals, but also didn’t score many either, often edging sides by the odd strike against the run of play.
This term, with the reins from the start of the season, Advocaat is trying to play more attacking football, but this is leaving them increasingly open. They are scoring goals, but also leaking chances at an alarming rate.
The problem for the Black Cats is where they are conceding chances, which come in two main areas.
The first is in the full back zones, as Advocaat wants these players to be much more aggressive in getting forward. When one goes the other will often sit and this has left the space on the open side rife for attacking.
This, from Norwich’s recent visit to the Stadium of Light, highlights Sunderland’s classic error in shape. As Norwich win the ball and counter, Sunderland’s front three are out of the game, their central trio are way to narrow and compact, but right back, Billy Jones is caught upfield, out of position and away from the rest of his back four.
This has seen Sunderland concede an alarming amount of chances, and goals, from the right back area. In the Black Cats’ last home Premier League match, Swansea created a host of chances from attacking the right back zone.
In Sunderland’s last game away to Aston Villa, the Villains also went heavily at, and scored, through the right back area.
The majority of chances have been coming through the right back zone, but it also happens to left back Patrick van Aanholt. This image is from Swansea’s goal in their game with Sunderland, as the left back is the one caught this time.
Again the front three are out of the game as the ball goes in to Andre Ayew, but the midfield trio are once more extremely narrow and in an awful defensive position, almost in a vertical line. The ball went from Ayew to Naughton and then through for Bafetimbi Gomis to fire home, highlighting another Sunderland issue, the centre backs.
The second area of weakness is the centre back pairing. Dick Advocaat has chopped and changed, but these two have been first of all left exposed by their midfield and secondly by Younes Kaboul.
As we know from his time with Spurs, Kaboul is not the defender he was many years ago before all of his injury troubles. The Frenchman is strong, but his problem at Spurs, and still continuing at Sunderland, is his positioning. Kaboul is a player that likes to set the position of the defensive line and have others get in-line with him. That means he can get caught either far too high or too deep when paired with a centre back partner that doesn’t know him very well.
This is from Sunderland’s game with Leicester where Kaboul is yards deeper than the rest of his back four. This allows Okazaki to find Mahrez, who would’ve been offside if Kaboul had pushed up alongside his back four. Mahrez could then play in Vardy as Kaboul makes it easy for the Algerian to pick out his team mate by playing everyone on.
This has been a problem for Kaboul and with his speed now reduced by his injuries, it affects not only his game but also those around him. Sunderland have looked better since the steadying influence of John O’Shea has returned, but they are still likely to give up goals and chances through the centre with Kaboul’s positioning.
The Tottenham tactics for Sunderland vs Spurs should focus on attacking the zones beyond the full backs, especially in the right back zone. Nacer Chadli will probably get the nod on the left for us, but Son Heung-Min could be a shrewder choice here. The South Korean’s style to look to run in-behind in wide areas looks ideally suited to this match.
In the middle, we really should be looking to pull Younes Kaboul around. Expect Harry Kane to drop off the front and others to burst past him as we look to expose the shaky centre back’s positioning.
Press for success
One thing I’ve always felt you have to do against any Sunderland side is press them high up the park and force mistakes. This is especially true this season with the way teams have been easily able to get on there back four.
Norwich were very good in hounding the Black Cats in their 3-1 win up at the Stadium of Light a few weeks ago. The Canaries recovered the ball 15 times in the Sunderland half.
On opening Day, Leicester were also very active in the Sunderland half of the field, winning the ball back 13 times and breaking quickly.
Pressing the Black Cats in to mistakes and errors should form part of the Tottenham tactics for Sunderland this Spurs this time. A quick start will knock the Mackems on the back foot and could turn the crowd against them, which has been a recurring problem.
Set pieces will form a key part of Sunderland vs Spurs this time. We’re only four games in to the new Premier League season, but the Black Cats have scored twice and also conceded three times from them.
Leicester and Norwich have already found the back of the net from a set play routine. In Sunderland’s last Premier League match, Aston Villa earned a penalty after Lee Cattermole took a ride on Scott Sinclair at a corner.
Sunderland are also a threat to score from set pieces as well. They notched a consolation effort from a corner against Norwich, whilst Yann M’Vila’s curling free kick saw them open the scoring at Villa Park.
Set pieces will be key in the Tottenham tactics for Sunderland vs Spurs especially with Mauricio Pochettino’s love of the empty near-post corner routine. This sees him leave the front corner of the six yard box vacant and a player, usually Eric Dier, will bolt in here in order to meet a driven-in ball.
Sunderland vs Spurs outlook
After being mauled by Leicester and Norwich, the Black Cats have steadied the ship, drawing their last two Premier League matches. They will be difficult to beat in front of a passionate crowd, but if we go about the game in the right way then we have every opportunity to take the three points.
The biggest obstacle for us so far this season hasn’t been the execution of the tactics that Mauricio Pochettino deploys, but in being clinical at finishing off chances. We sit sixth in the Premier League for fashioning opportunities, but are way down in seventeenth for goal conversion rate. This has to change.
Sunderland vs Spurs prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Spurs.
Sunderland vs Spurs betting
Fancy a flutter? There are a few value bets to be had on the game.
What do you think about the game? How would you line-up?