Chris Young’s SAFC verdict: Disappointment, but plenty of positives for Sunderland in Spurs defeat

Jermain Defoe.
Jermain Defoe.
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THERE WAS to be no fairytale debut for Jermain Defoe.

It would have been poetic for the ex-Spurs frontman to grab an equaliser or even winner at his former stomping ground. The run of marking his bow for every new club he has played for is over.

Perhaps it would have been different had the two late chances which fell to his replacement Danny Graham come to Defoe, albeit Hugo Lloris produced a superb stop to keep out the second in stoppage time.

But Sunderland remain in the thick of the relegation dogfight after being unable to get the point which would have eased worries, if not vanquished them.

Yet there was enough encouragement from Defoe in that opening 45 minutes to suggest he will make a hefty difference for Sunderland.

It was a shock that Gus Poyet opted for a 3-5-2 / 5-3-2 formation, rather than easing his side into a new shape with, for example, a diamond in midfield.

After all, the last time Sunderland had played with three central defenders, in last season’s trip to White Hart Lane, they were utterly routed.

But Poyet rightly felt he needed to make a change to the system he has used throughout this season, to incorporate Defoe into a front two.

Despite minimal opportunity to work on the change on the training ground, it worked relatively well, particularly in the first half.

Defoe was caught offside four times, yet it was arguably more encouraging, than frustrating, to see such a sight.

Sunderland have had no-one since Darren Bent hanging on the last defender and making those runs looking for those balls in-behind.

Supporters will have to get used to the sight of Defoe being caught offside regularly, but the same applied to Bent. It was the one occasion where the flag didn’t up when he showed how deadly he could be.

Defoe had a couple of half-chances when the ball either got stuck under his foot or didn’t run for him, but he didn’t really have a sighter, albeit he won the free-kick for Seb Larsson’s equaliser.

But there was still that air of imminent danger which has accompanied Defoe throughout his career. There was more than enough to indicate that he still has it.

It was a shame that Sunderland couldn’t mark Defoe’s bow with a point.

While Spurs dominated possession in the second half, they didn’t really worry Sunderland until Christian Eriksen’s late winner.

Yet in terms of what is on the horizon, this wasn’t a bad start whatsoever.