Match date & time: Saturday 17th January 2015. 3pm GMT kick off.
Competition: Premier League.
Venue: White Hart Lane.
TV: Not televised in the UK. Worldwide TV listings HERE.
The games are coming around very quickly at this moment in time, and we are in a crucial period of the season in which we have the opportunity to go to Wembley in the Capital One Cup against Sheffield United, as well as progress in the FA Cup against Leicester, and all the while we have big games in the Premier League, where we will be looking to pick up maximum points away to West Brom, but first, our full attention must be on the game at the Lane against Sunderland, and pick up to the three points to keep us well in the hunt with the top sides in the League. Our home games against lower opposition are absolutely vital, with all points in the Premier League so valuable, we need to capitalise on all of our opportunities, and this struggling Sunderland side is a good opportunity to get three points on the board, even though it’s never an easy game. After losing away at Crystal Palace, in what was a very frustrating and unfortunate game, with a buoyant Palace side able to fight back – and in the end it was a big three points dropped; and now we need to try to make up for it and keep momentum going and beat Sunderland to get points on the board, but also to get back to winning ways heading into some massive games this month. After beating Burnley 4-2 in the FA Cup, we gained back a little bit of momentum, but in the cup it is different to the Premier League, and our importance in performance and results is mostly judged on our League form, which has been good up until our slip up to Palace – and we will be hoping that it is just a slip up, and we can get right back up and on track with a win against the Black Cats.
Sunderland sit 16th in the Premier League table, and are in the relegation battle this season, with former Spur Gus Poyet in a little bit of a situation after winning only once in ten games and twice in 13, with 20 points from 21 games, which certainly isn’t setting the world alight, and they have developed a reputation for being the draw specialists of the Premier League, with only 3 wins this season, and 11 draws, which I am sure would be frustrating for the Sunderland fans, and Gus Poyet will be hoping he can get some more wins on the board to help guard from criticism and release the pressure on Poyet and Sunderland. The Black Cats have had some tough fixtures recently, and haven’t picked up any points in the last two games against Liverpool and Arsenal, and if they go three games without any points on the board, I’m sure Poyet’s job will be in jeopardy. But, from a Tottenham perspective, it’s a real chance to finish off what is already a wounded animal. The last time we faced Sunderland, earlier this season, we drew 2-2, with Nacer Chadli and Christian Eriksen scoring in a game where we just couldn’t get the three points despite going ahead twice. The last time we faced Sunderland at the Lane, was last season, where despite going behind, we came back to win comfortably 5-1, with Emmanuel Adebayor getting two goals, with Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane and Gylfi Sigurdsson also getting on the scoresheet in the emphatic victory. A repeat scoreline would be most welcome.
The team news for Sunderland is that former Spur Jermain Defoe, who made his move to Sunderland on Friday, is eligible to face his former club at his former home stadium for Sunderland, but as he hasn’t played competitive football in four months, and after only one training session with Sunderland, it is difficult to see him starting and playing the majority of the game. With Defoe, eligible, Liam Bridcutt (suspended), Steven Fletcher (groin), Lee Cattermole (groin) and Anthony Reveillere (calf) are out, with Jack Rodwell (hamstring) an injury doubt, and will undergo a late fitness test. Sunderland have some good players, and after obtaining Jermain Defoe they hope that they have signed a player to bring them goals and experience, and after his time at Tottenham, we know that he can, when on form, cause havoc to any defence, and he has a great eye for goal… Especially when it’s a debut, and he has scored on every debut that he has had, so betting on a Defoe goal seems like easy money! Along with Defoe, Connor Wickham is another goal threat where goal threats are scarce; he runs the channels well and can cause problems and make himself a nuisance, but he only has 2 goals, and that isn’t the return he would have wanted with the threat he poses; the young striker can play on the flanks as well and puts in a good shift for the side. Winger Adam Johnson is probably Sunderland’s biggest outlet for pace and effectiveness, and he has 5 goals so far this season in all competitions, but hasn’t been able to register an assist for his team mates, which is probably a bad stat for his team mates, rather than Johnson himself, as he has created 20 chances, the second highest after Sebastian Larsson with 39, who is their set piece specialist. There are some really good players in this Sunderland side, and if they get some momentum in their play I am sure they can cause us problems.
The team news for Tottenham is that Erik Lamela (calf) and Ryan Mason (hamstring) remain out, while Nabil Bentaleb is with Algeria at the African Cup of Nations. Federico Fazio (illness), Vlad Chiriches (back) and Younes Kaboul (illness) are doubts, while Emmanuel Adebayor is still available, despite not playing since early November against Stoke at the Lane. New signing DeAndre Yedlin doesn’t seem to be ready to make his debut as of yet, and is definitely unlikely to be thrown into Premier League action. With Fazio, Chiriches & Kaboul doubts, it seems we are a little short on centre backs, and that could mean Eric Dier being put into central defence, after not starting a game since the home draw to Crystal Palace in early December. Hopefully he isn’t rusty!
There is no doubting that Harry Kane has been phenomenal in recent times, and we will be looking to him once again to provide the finishing touch against the side he scored his first Premier League goal against, last season in the 5-1 win at the Lane; it was definitely the first of many and he is on his way to becoming indispensable to the side, and he has already cemented himself as one of the best strikers in the League at the moment, on form and on quality. I believe Kane is consistently improving under Mauricio Pochettino, and I hope that this development will continue and he will become an amazing asset for us. The man who makes us tick, and the person we need to perform to find gaps in tight games at home is Christian Eriksen, as he has two goals in his last two games against the black cats, it seems he has made quite the habit of performing against Sunderland; hopefully he can grab another goal and help us break down their defence and find those gaps again! The three musketeers of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen is completed by Nacer Chadli, who is a constant goal threat in every situation, from corners, with his right and left foot, as well as his ability to score from outside the box, he has become a crucial player to us and he has been a big improvement from last season. After the Burnley game, Paulinho and Andros Townsend received plaudits, and both are pushing hard for first team berths, with Townsend already cementing a place ahead of Aaron Lennon while Erik Lamela remains out, and Paulinho returning from the abyss to reclaim what seems to be a bit of his old form, and improvement means opportunities, even for someone who looked as though his Tottenham career looked unstable to say the least, with Nabil Bentaleb and Ryan Mason out, it could be an opportunity for him to prove his worth in the Premier League after some decent performances in the cups and from the bench, and he has been very patient and not made a fuss, which I think is very honourable. Andros Townsend performed really well against Burnley and hopefully he is finding form once again as well and can become very effective on that right flank for Tottenham in the absence of Erik Lamela.
Match stats & facts provided by Opta:
– Christian Eriksen has netted in both of his Barclays Premier League appearances against Sunderland.
– Sunderland managed to net two goals despite only having one shot on target in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light earlier this season against the Londoners.
– Tottenham are unbeaten in their last nine Premier League games against the Black Cats (W6 D3).
– Defeat last time out against Manchester City (2-3) ended a run of five on the road without loss for the Black Cats in the Premier League (W3 D2). It also ended a run of four consecutive clean sheets away from home.
– Spurs are unbeaten in their last five Premier League home games (W3 D2).
– Tottenham Hotspur have recovered 12 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, the most in the top flight.
– Harry Kane has scored six goals in his last six Premier League games for Spurs.
– Nacer Chadli has provided an assist in four of his last five league appearances for Tottenham.
– Spurs have given away six penalties in the Premier League; two more than any other side in the division.
– Sunderland have scored a higher proportion of their goals in the final 15 minutes of Barclays Premier League games than any other side (33%).
A big game to get back on track and return to winning ways in the Premier League, and one in which we will be welcoming back an old friend and now a new foe in Jermain Defoe; but let’s hope it isn’t a happy return for him on the pitch! The game isn’t being shown live on TV, but I will be providing match updates, including goal updates, photos, videos and much more from my twitter account; follow me there, @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get three points!! COYS!!
My predicted/preferred team to face Sunderland at White Hart Lane:
Walker – Dier – Vertonghen – Rose
Stambouli – Paulinho
Townsend – Eriksen – Chadli
Mauricio Pochettino’s pre match press conference: