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FAN FOCUS: Cartilage Free Captain's Bryan Ashlock Talks Spurs v SAFC

Today's Fan Focus is with Bryan Ashlock, writer for fellow SBNation site 'Cartilage Free Captain'. Are Bryan's thoughts as intriguing as the name of his blog? Read on to find out...

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Jermain Defoe – five goals in two games. You lads know him better than anyone – do you think he’s got what it takes to keep Sunderland in the Premier league?

Uh....No. Probably not. If watching Jermain Defoe for many years are any indication, this form will last maybe another three or four games - six if you're really lucky, and then he won't score a goal for months.

Sorry about that.

Just how good is Dele Alli?

I like to try and play it cool on some of the youth players at Spurs, but Alli is really good, particularly in Pochettino's system. He's athletic and he makes some really intelligent runs beyond the striker.

He still has plenty of room to grow as a player, of course. His touch could be a bit better and his passing and close control are pretty sloppy at times, but all in all he's awesome.

What positives can you draw from your season thus far – does anything in particular stand out?

I think one concern that I had coming into the season was that last year’s team didn't feel like a Pochettino team. We rarely pressed and we conceded an awful lot of goals. This season, we look like exactly the kind of team we all expected last year.

The team's grasp of Pochettino's pressing tactics and the ability to plug and play different squad players with only a negligible drop off from the first team has been huge. If nothing else is accomplished this year, the team took a giant step forward in just playing the way the manager wants to play.

If you could take one player from Sunderland to play in the Spurs side, who would it be and why?

Do I have to take someone?

If you've got a gun to my head, I suppose I'd look at three players: Jack Rodwell, Yann M'Vila, and Duncan Watmore.

Rodwell and M'Vila could both be useful squad players in Pochettino's midfield, but each come with their own issues - injuries and maybe not being very good in Rodwell's case, and personality problems and maybe not being very good in M'Vila's case (G – hmmm….).

Watmore is obviously unproven, but Spurs need a striker to deputise for Harry Kane and Poche loves young guys. So, Watmore seems like an easy pick.

DeAndre Yedlin has struggled to make an impact at Sunderland and has largely played second fiddle to Billy Jones at right back. Rumours have been rife that he could be re-called to Spurs and sent out on loan elsewhere – do you think that would be a sensible move or do you feel that he should stay at Sunderland and fight for a place in the starting line-up?

I still think Sunderland was a good place to send Yedlin. The fact that he can't beat out Billy Jones is obviously bad, but Yedlin really only has himself to blame for that. If he's recalled, I'd imagine he'll get sent back to MLS. Yedlin doesn't exactly seem to be one of Poche's guys and I think Spurs are pretty happy with their right backs at the moment.

If I were Yedlin, I'd be doing everything I could to stay at Sunderland or go somewhere else in the Premier League. Yedlin is young and obviously talented, but a return to MLS or a move the Championship would be a huge disappointment.

What would it take for Spurs to mount a serious title challenge in the second part of the season?

More consistency in the attack. Harry Kane has eleven Premier League goals and Dele Alli has five.

No one else has more than three. Kane may be Spurs only recognized striker, but we can't expect him alone to fire us into a title challenge. We saw this week, against Leicester, what can happen when Kane just can't seem to put the ball in the back of the net.

Your home form since the start of December has been rather inconsistent to say the least – how do you see things panning out on Saturday?

Our home form all season has been a bit odd. There are quite a few draws in there that could have easily been wins. Yes, Spurs have dropped two home matches recently, but I'm not too concerned by that. The NUFC loss was down to a rare bad game from Hugo Lloris and the loss to Leicester had Spurs failing to score in ways that you couldn't have concocted if you'd had an infinite amount of time to think about them.

When you think back to games against Sunderland which ones stand out?

The 5-1 in 2014 was kind of fun, mostly because it featured a rare Lee Cattermole goal. As I was thinking about this one I had to go back and look at old results against Sunderland and god, are they all super boring. Did you know Spurs haven't played the Black Cats in a cup match since 1996? That seems odd to me.

Who from the Spurs team should we be particularly fearful of?

The answer here is pretty obvious, it's Kane and Alli. They're the two players in the best form right now and the two most likely to score.

Similarly, who in the Sunderland side do you think could hurt Spurs at the weekend?

It has to be Jermain Defoe. He's got some absurd scoring record when it comes to playing old teams and he's in the midst of a purple patch right now. I wouldn't be surprised to see JD-trouble score once or twice.

Finally, can you give us a score prediction please?

I'm going to say 2-1 Spurs. Not because I'm super confident in Spurs, but just because I feel like I really need to put some positive vibes out into the universe.

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