GUS Poyet and Mauricio Pochettino believe possession is king. This shared conviction left Sunderlandâ€™s manager looking on disconsolate as, inspired by Christian Eriksen, Pochettinoâ€™s Tottenham monopolised the ball. Somehow, however, the Uruguayan ended the afternoon smiling.
His sideâ€™s sheer bloody-minded resilience â€“ aided by Harry Kaneâ€™s own goal â€“ secured a point. Not that it will be lost on Poyet that his largely outclassed Wearsiders had looked sunk until Emanuele Giaccheriniâ€™s liberation from the bench.
â€œIâ€™m really, really pleased,â€ Poyet said. â€œSpurs are by the far the best team weâ€™ve played. It was a really hard point.â€
While Sunderland sought their first league win of the season, Tottenham were determined to exorcise memories of their 3-0 home defeat against Liverpool a fortnight ago and made a suitably high-octane start in the warm sunshine.
A compelling game had barely kicked off when the outstanding Eriksen slipped a sublime pass to Danny Rose, whose shot was parried to safety by a somewhat startled Vito Mannone. A minute later Sunderlandâ€™s goalkeeper failed to hold an Emmanuel Adebayor shot and watched Nacer Chadli direct the rebound beyond his reach.
The visiting fans hardly had time to celebrate before they were reminded that their defence remains a work in progress. That unit seemed to momentarily stand back and admire Adam Johnson as the winger sashayed in from the left and unleashed a right-foot shot that was deflected beyond Hugo Lloris.
Mannone did extremely well to block Adebayorâ€™s volley following the strikerâ€™s cute one-two with Eriksen but gradually things turned slightly more sedate. There were some lovely little passing triangles to observe from Spurs as, with the excellent Mousa DembÃ©lÃ© controlling central midfield, they emphasised just how far Sunderland have to travel if they are to become similarly assured in the arts of pass and move and positional interchange.
Poyet is very keen to turn his team into a possession-hogging, controlled passing outfit and, under his tutelage, they have made big strides away from the deep defending, counterattacking strategy that was their hallmark under Martin Oâ€™Neill. Here, though, Tottenhamâ€™s superiority on the ball forced them to spend long periods without it, defending in numbers. It made life horribly tough for Ricardo Ãlvarez, the Argentinian making his debut wide on the right of Poyetâ€™s midfield after arriving on a season-long loan from Internazionale.
Ãlvarez and company enjoyed some fortunate moments â€“ most notably when DembÃ©lÃ©â€™s 30-yard shot rebounded off a post with Mannone well beaten and when Erik Lamelaâ€™s attempted pass to Adebayor was diverted by Santiago Verginiâ€™s arm, only for the referee to dismiss visiting penalty appeals â€“ yet still appeared destined for inevitable defeat.
Despite Lee Cattermoleâ€™s best efforts to hold Sunderland together, the immensely impressive Eriksen restored the visiting lead. Untypically from such a delicately subtle player the goal was somewhat untidy. It resulted from a home failure to clear Chadliâ€™s cross, with Eriksen extending a boot and bundling the ball across the line from close range.
On came Giaccherini â€“ who surely should have started â€“ and Will Buckley in place of Sebastian Larsson and Ãlvarez. Giaccherini, particularly, improved Sunderland and Johnson was unlucky to see a long-range shot fly fractionally wide.
Taking the hint, Pochettino replaced Chadli with his new defensive midfielder, Benjamin Stambouli. Suitably fortified, Spurs might have extended their lead had Lamelaâ€™s clever chip not rebounded back off the bar but instead Sunderland stole a highly unlikely point.
It featured two substitutes fresh from the bench and involved Jordi GÃ³mezâ€™s curving free kick being diverted past his own goalkeeper by the unfortunate Kane as Connor Wickham, technically accomplished throughout, provided invaluable nuisance value.
â€œIâ€™m very disappointed,â€ said Pochettino. â€œWe had a lot of chances. We didnâ€™t kill the game but we were unlucky.â€ – The Guardian