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 By John Crace

Mousa Dembele the driving force in Spurs' win over Sunderland

It wasn't always pretty and the scoreline may have been flattering, but Tottenham's 4-1 win against Sunderland on Saturday was precisely the reaction Mauricio Pochettino was looking for to maintain momentum after Wednesday night's defeat to Leicester.

With Mousa Dembele fully fit again, Pochettino was able to send out a starting XI with a much more balanced midfield than the lightweight pairing of Christian Eriksen and Tom Carroll who had played against Leicester.

Spurs' sloppy marking was at fault for Patrick van Aanholt's opener but a double from Christian Eriksen and further strikes from Mousa Demble and Harry Kane sealed the win.

Tottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
SunderlandSunderland
4
1
FT
Game Details

Player Ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Hugo Lloris, 7 -- One of the least demanding 90 minutes the French international is likely to have.

DF Kieran Trippier, 6 -- With Sunderland mounting little threat in attack, Trippier was given the freedom to display his attacking talents. Not quite as quick or as tricky out wide as he needs to be and his delivery is patchy, but you can't fault his commitment.

DF Toby Alderweireld, 7 -- A fairly comfortable afternoon for the Belgian who went about his business quietly and efficiently.

DF Jan Vertonghen, 8 -- Totally assured both on and off the ball. Never allowed former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe a chance. Also showed some unexpected skills and pace on one driving run up field during the second half.

DF Danny Rose, 7 -- As with the rest of the defence, this wasn't one of Rose's more demanding days defensively but he maintained his concentration throughout and had none of the lapses of concentration that have been a hallmark of his game in recent weeks. Always a threat in attack and his persistence won a late penalty for the second time inside a week.

MF Eric Dier, 6 -- After a purple patch at the beginning of the season, Dier has begun to look as if the demanding schedule is catching up with him. His game has lost some of its snap.

MF Erik Lamela, 6 -- Another player who has looked out of sorts in recent weeks. Never been the quickest of players and his default manoeuvre is to pass the ball backwards.

MF Christian Eriksen, 7 -- Two goals is always a decent return for any player, even if one should have been kept out by Lee Cattermole and the other took a nasty deflection. The Dane still does not look particularly settled or comfortable with his game.

MF Mousa Dembele, 8 -- There are few more reassuring sights for a Spurs fan than a fit Dembele in the starting XI. He is now the lynchpin of the midfield as his ability to win and retain the ball allows everyone else more time and space. Capped a fine performance of power and grace with a neat finish after cutting in from the right.

MF Dele Alli, 7 -- Should have done a lot better in the first half when he blazed over the bar when unmarked inside the box and in the second when Lamela's cross presented him with a free header. Was also caught badly out of position for Sunderland's goal. Tends to blow hot and cold.

FW Harry Kane, 7 -- Another game, another goal -- albeit a late penalty when the game was already won. Worked hard to win the ball and opened up the defence and although he had few clear cut chances, he forced Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to make a couple of decent saves. At 4-1 up and the game already won, Kane was given a well-earned rest. It may have only been five minutes, but every second counts as long as Spurs have no backup strikers.

Mousa Dembele
Mousa Demble struck in Tottenham's 4-1 win over Sunderland on Saturday.

Substitutes:

MF Josh Onomah, 6 -- Brought on midway through the second half for the increasingly ineffective Lamela but never really managed to impose himself on the game.

MF Tom Carroll, N/R -- Though he might be too slight and ineffectual to contain the midfield alongside Eriksen, his skills give Spurs and extra cutting edge against tired teams.

FW Son Heung-Min N/R -- A late replacement for Kane.

John Crace is a columnist and feature writer for The Guardian. He is also a THFC season-ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @JohnJCrace.

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