Gus Poyet was effusive in his praise, but his assessment of a “complete team” was overly generous. The Uruguayan’s former employers are missing a killer instinct, a deficiency his dogged Sunderland side were to ultimately benefit from.
Tottenham are preparing to spend the 2017-18 season in football’s version of rented digs courtesy of a delay in moving to their new stadium, with fortnightly 100-mile round trips to the home of MK Dons among the options.
They acted more like landlords here as they dominated their first game since announcing the likelihood of a stop-gap move, but were ultimately left to rue their inability to turn that superiority into maximum points.
Second-best almost throughout, Sunderland clung on when many would have thrown in the towel.
“We couldn’t get the ball,” head coach Poyet conceded in an accurate summation after seeing his side earn a third draw in four games. “For me as a team, Tottenham have got everything.”
Everything but a way to finish-off lesser sides.
“It becomes a worry if it starts to happen a lot,” Emmanuel Adebayor admitted. The Spurs forward wasn’t alone in finding Sunderland’s former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone a formidable barrier as the hosts wriggled out of a fifth successive defeat in this fixture.
“The most frustrating thing is that we weren’t rewarded for our performance,” the Togolese forward added. “Their manager won’t be able to believe they came away with a point. We’ve got to finish teams off when we’ve got them on the ropes like that. If you play badly and draw then it’s pretty good, as I’m sure the Sunderland players will tell you.”
Unsurprisingly, they were happy to.
“Spurs were good for sustained periods and it was a battle,” admitted Adam Johnson, whose deflected fourth-minute drive cancelled out a close-range follow-up from Nacer Chadli just 72 seconds after the Belgian midfielder broke the short-lived deadlock.
“It’s a decent result given the amount of pressure we came under,” Johnson added. “We showed plenty of character to come back for a point but we were always in with a shout while there was only one goal in it.”
Tottenham struck the bar through Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela either side of the contest’s outstanding performer Christian Eriksen restoring their lead from close range early in the second half. However, they contrived to gift Sunderland a point, Harry Kane absent-mindedly deflecting a Jordi Gomez free-kick into his own net with his first touch.
“After dominating like that, it’s difficult to take,” Adebayor agreed.
“We should have been out of sight.”
SUNDERLAND (4-1-4-1): Mannone 8; Vergini 5, O’Shea 5, Brown 5, Van Aanholt 6; Cattermole 6, Alvarez 5 (Buckley 65, 6), Larsson 5 (Giaccherini 65, 7), Rodwell 5 (Gomez 79, 6), Johnson 7; Wickham 6.
TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1) Lloris 6; Dier 6, Kaboul 6, Chiriches 6, Rose 7; Dembele 7, Capoue 7; Lamela 7, Eriksen 8 (Lennon 86, 5), Chadli 8 (Stambouli 70, 6); Adebayor 7 (Kane 79, 3).
Referee: Craig Pawson.