Unbeaten and coming off the back of a very impressive and dominant win at Stoke, Spurs fans must be confident of another successful season under Mauricio Pochettino?
There's a lot of excitement, absolutely. Spurs seemed to have turned the next corner under Pochettino as we enter Year three under the Argentine. After a bit of a slow start out of the blocks, a 4-0 hammering was just what the doctor ordered to get the momentum rolling. With Champions League football returning to the schedule, there's more optimism than ever in North London. It makes us happy, that's for certain.
Victor Wanayama was the only summer signing who started against Stoke and although he'll be starting soon enough, Moussa Sissoko was only used as a substitute. I think it's good how Pochettino isn't making too many changes and is just looking to add little bits of quality to an already talented squad. Was this expected and are you happy with this approach?
This was expected, yes. Moussa Dembele has finally served his suspension and will be back on Sunday for league play, but we knew that Wanyama was going to slot into that spot once he was signed and Ryan Mason was moved to the bench before being sold to Hull. Pochettino's regular Starting XI is set in stone unless someone comes and earns a chance in training and matches, so the signings this Summer were to add depth to the squad.
We were reportedly close to signing Ryan Mason which got a mixed response from Sunderland supporters. What is your take on him? Did we dodge a bullet or would he have been a good signing?
Ryan Mason is a player who loved the club, played for the crest on the front and not the name on the back, and gave his blood, sweat, and tears for Tottenham Hotspur. There were people that loved him and hated him as a player, with plenty in between. Personally, I saw Mason as a high energy player who was in a role he wasn't suited for. Mason is at his best in the attacking midfield, but he was seventh or eighth choice there. As a CM in the pivot, he was not the best option.
Whether or not you dodged a bullet or bought a quality player would have depended entirely on where Moyes would have played him. If he had been in the attacking band where his defensive limitations wouldn't be exposed constantly, then you probably missed out. If he was going to be in the pivot? You lucked out.
Two ex-Spurs players who got a much more positive reaction from Mackems were Jermain Defoe & Younes Kaboul. What do Spurs fans think about Defoe still banging in goals, despite being deemed surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane a few years ago? Similarly Kaboul too, who was largely injury free last season and most of us were gutted to see him leave after a great season.
If you ask most Spurs supporters, Defoe is still loved in North London. He was a key player for a long spell and when he went to MLS, the club still loved him enough to give him a great farewell both at White Hart Lane and in his first match in Toronto. Of course, that whole MLS thing didn't work out that long and now you have him. I'm happy he's still banging in goals even if it isn't for Spurs, so long as it isn't against Tottenham of course!
Kaboul is a different story. He was a hell of a player before injuries kind of derailed him. There was actually a time when someone would ask Kyle Walker who the fastest player was on the squad and his answer would be Kaboul. When Harry Redknapp was removed and Andre Villas-Boas came in, that's when things went south. Since the start of the 2012-13 season, he wasn't himself and there were plenty of rumours of what we'll call "personality clashes" with AVB, then Tim Sherwood, and then Pochettino. One of his last matches was against Besiktas in Europa League, and it was one of the worst performances from a centre back you'll watch. He played in two FA cup matches after that, and never again in the Premier League. While the efforts he had early in his career are remembered, his exit was not nearly the same and it was just a good bit of business to get some money for him.
Who should Sunderland fans be worried about going into this game? I suppose it could be the whole team after both clubs last two results!
I could say the entire team because, when they're all clicking, they're a dangerous bunch to play against. I'll say that the biggest threats are in the attacking areas. Kane finally broke his duck and, when that happened last year, the goals came in bunches. Christian Eriksen's funk may be done as well, given he's signed his new contract and looked great last week with a couple of assists. Heck, Heung-Min Son made his first appearance of the season last week and bagged a brace, and he may not even start. Then there's Lamela, who is terrifying in the press and looks poised to have an amazing season.
On that subject, is there anyone that you're worried about in the Sunderland squad?
Defoe, because the man can still score even at 33 years old. I'll say Januzaj as well, just because he's young and seems to be putting it together. Outside of that? Maybe Patrick van Aanholt? Oh, and whoever plays in goal for Sunderland because usually keepers have the match of their lives against us.
How do you see Spurs lining up and approaching the game?
I'm expecting some rotation from our opening Champions League match. While I don't expect him to sit, I wouldn't be surprised to see Janssen start up top instead of Kane so that Harry doesn't have to play close to 270 minutes in eight days. Poch loves to rotate fullbacks, so expect to see Kieran Trippier at right fullback. With Danny Rose still out, Ben Davies will have to play left back until he's healthy. Beyond that, I think Dembele is surefire to start at centre midfield after playing a half on Wednesday. I think Wanyama may get a nod to give Dier a rest as well. Now, all this could get thrown out the window and Poch just opts to play his usual Starting XI. But, I'll go out on a limb and lean towards rotation:
Lloris; Davies, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Trippier; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Lamela; Kane.
Can we have a prediction please?
Spurs need to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders after the loss to Monaco. With Dembele back manning the middle, I expect to see the Spurs from last season that were putting teams to the sword before they ran out of gas in the last couple of weeks. Sunderland always seem to have some fight in them, but I don't expect Spurs to drop this one.
Thanks to Sean for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out Cartilage Free Captain on their SBN Site, where Rory answered some questions on SAFC. You can also follow Sean on Twitter.