Spurs were battered and bruised by the Potters last Sunday going down 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium inflicting their first defeat since they lost to Manchester City back in August. Getting back to winning ways will be the only objective this week against Sunderland with Harry Redknapp desperate to remain in the Champions League places over Christmas. Before their loss in the Potteries Tottenham had chalked up 10 wins from 11 games to rise into the top four and mark themselves down as genuine contenders to Manchester United’s Premier League crown. The addition of Brad Friedel, Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor has made the difference for Spurs whilst Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Aaron Lennon have all upped their game this season. Their free flowing style of play has destroyed teams at times with their pace and power going forward proving too hot to handle. Winning against the Black Cats on Sunday will be the only objective and Redknapp will be hammering home that fact that rivals Arsenal are closing in on their position in the top four.
However it won’t be an easy task with Sunderland still buzzing following Martin O’Neill’s appointment and subsequent success in his first game as boss. The Northern Irishman saw his side leave it late to beat Blackburn at the Stadium of Light last week but will know his side face a much stiffer test when they travel to White Hart Lane. Whilst the win over Rovers will have provided O’Neill with a platform to work from he knows that it only papered over some very deep cracks that still exist in the Black Cats squad. Defensively they were poor last Sunday and against a more potent strike force they would have found themselves staring down the barrel of another defeat before their renaissance in the dying embers. Scoring goals has also been a problem for Sunderland and with Nicklas Bendtner injured supporters will be expecting Connor Wickham and Stephane Sessegnon to find the net in North London. Going from beating a side deeply rooted in the bottom three to facing one chasing the title provides two very different tests for O’Neill as he attempts to guide his new crop away from the drop zone during Christmas.
Tottenham – 4th
Last Five: Lost 2-1 v Stoke (A), Won 3-0 v Bolton (H), Won 3-1 v West Brom, Won 2-0 v Aston Villa (A), Won 3-1 v Fulham (A)
Potential Starting X11: 24. B. Friedel 28. K. Walker 19. S. Bassong 13. W. Gallas 32. B. Assou Ekotto 7. A. Lennon 14. L. Modric [C] 8. S. Parker 3. G. Bale* 18. J. Defoe 10. E. Adebayor
Injury News: Redknapp will be without key player Ledley King whilst Niko Kranjcar, Michael Dawson and Tom Huddlestone remain sidelined.
Key Player: Gareth Bale
The Welsh flyer was subdued at Stoke last week enduring a difficult afternoon in the Potteries but still remains Tottenham’s biggest attacking threat. Bale has taken his game to new levels this season with his dominant displays on the wing proving key to Spurs’ rise into the top four. He’ll definitely fancy his chances up against the ageing John O’Shea at White Hart Lane.
Match Fact: Tottenham have lost only once at home to Sunderland in the Premier League in 10 meetings at White Hart Lane.
Sunderland – 16th
Last Five: Won 2-1 v Blackburn(A), Lost 2-1 v Wolves (A), Lost 2-1 v Wigan (H), Drew 0-0 v Fulham (H), Lost 1-0 v Manchester United (A)
Potential Starting X11: 24. K. Westwood 16. J. O’Shea [C] 4. M. Turner 6. W. Brown 2. P. Bardsley 7. A. S. Larsson* 15. D. Vaughan 16. J. Colback 11.K. Richardson 28. S. Sessegnon 10. C. Wickham
Injury News: Martin O’Neill will be without on-loan Nicklas Bendtner whilst Simon Mignolet, Fraizer Campbell and Craig Gordon remain out.
Key Player: Sebastian Larsson
The Swedish midfielder was arguably the most effective of former manager Steve Bruce’s summer signings and certainly helped new boss Martin O’Neill get off to the best possible start on Wearside. Larsson was on hand to curl home a late free kick to win the game against Blackburn and further cement his importance to Sunderland. More of the same will be expected by O’Neill on the visit to North London.
Match Fact: Sunderland have won only four times in 20 Premier League encounters with Tottenham
Last Time at White Hart Lane
Premier League 9 November 2010
Tottenham 1-1 Sunderland
Van Der Vaart (64)
Tottenham will be determined to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Stoke and will see the visit of Sunderland as the perfect opportunity to get back to winning ways. The Black Cats will be riding the crest of a very big wave after new boss O’Neill guided his team to victory in his first game in charge but faces a real test of his managerial skills against high flying Spurs.