A Tale of Strikers and Moyes Rallies The Troops
Harry Kane is widely expected to be dropped from Spurs’ starting eleven against us on Sunday. Continuing his poor form of Euro 2016 into the new Premier League campaign, Mauricio Pochettino is set to replace Kane with Netherlands international Vincent Janssen.
In defence, full back Danny Rose will not be fit to face Sunderland, the team he was on loan at during the 2012-13 season. Good news perhaps as his understudy, Ben Davies, does not pose quite the threat going forward that England’s left back does.
David Moyes faced the press this morning and the abject start to the season has him under pressure, just four games in. In need of every boost he can get, Sunderland’s manager is no doubt wary of a reaction from a Tottenham side defeated in midweek by Monaco in the Champions League. Moyes called on his side to "lift their levels".
His words reveal just what he has been saying to his players this week and are timely for two reasons. Firstly, Spurs have been looking a little leggy of late. Certainly some Tottenham players already looked in need of a rest on Wednesday night and the game against Monaco "went away from them" as Moyes said.
Second, Sunderland simply must lift their performances to avoid another autumn ensconced in the bottom three giving way to an inevitable, impenetrable annual winter gloom.
Too many Sunderland players did not perform in Monday night’s home defeat to Everton. One by one heads dropped as Romelu Lukaku ran riot. Supporters have been left dismayed by the apparent lack of leadership on the pitch so Moyes’ words, calling on anyone he could think of to prove their worth, are at least timely.
Sunderland will take to the pitch at White Hart Lane with limited attacking options once again. David Moyes confirmed that Victor Anichebe is not in the frame to make the squad, joining Fabio Borini and Joel Asoro on the injured list, with a slight thigh strain.
The 18-man squad that faced Everton was limited to just two recognised attackers – Jermain Defoe up front and Duncan Watmore, who started wide on the left of midfield. The worry, for a tricky trip to Tottenham, remains two-fold – when Sunderland go a goal down, heads drop and the side lacks the personnel to react and chase an equaliser.
Looking For Leaders
Moyes has reported good news on the injury front with Lee Cattermole and Steven Pienaar "pushing to be in the squad". Certainly Sunderland looked like a side lacking leadership in the Everton match so the return of two experienced midfielders is welcome.
Some outlets have suggested Catts could be in line for a start, but that seems unlikely considering the length of his lay-off and the limited pre-season he had. Cattermole traditionally returns from injury a little slowly, so the bench looks the best option for Sunday, particularly as Jan Kirchoff is again likely to tire from the hour mark onwards.
On Lamine Kone, David Moyes continued his thinly veiled message to the Ivorian centre half who has looked a little off his best lately. Clearly telling the player that he needs to remain focused on Sunderland and reaffirm his commitment considering the size of the pay rise he has engineered, Sunderland’s manager said:
"He is a good player. He has gone to a level where he has to become a leader and a top player. His contract suggests that and we need him to perform at a really high level now."
With some sources suggesting that Kone's new deal is worth £90,000 a week, David Moyes and his employer will be expecting performances on the pitch to reflect it.
Didier Ndong must be in line for start with Moyes saying "I probably need his energy and his drive". The game plan will be, as it always seems to be of late, to be competitive for an hour to seventy five minutes, perhaps nick a goal, then close the game out.
Meanwhile, In Russia On Monday Night
Yann M’Vila is in line to make his long awaited return to the Rubin Kazan first team against Zenit St Petersburg on Monday night. The Frenchman is widely expected to end his summer exile with a spot at least on the bench.