Spurs travel to Sunderland this weekend for a rare three o’clock Saturday afternoon kick-off.
The international break came at a frustrating time for Tottenham, having just lost 3-0 to Liverpool, the one setback in an otherwise positive start to the season. Last year’s Premier League runners up were always going to be a tough test so early in the Pochettino project. Sunderland represent far more beatable opponents.
The Wearside club finished 14th last season after appearing relegation certainties. Former Tottenham player and assistant manager Gus Poyet kept them up in remarkable fashion. A final run that saw them beat Manchester United and Chelsea, and draw with eventual winners Manchester City, all away from home, eventually left them five points clear of the drop.
Poyet’s team currently sit 13th with 2 points, after draws with West Brom and Manchester United, and a disappointing loss against QPR.
Probably Sunderland’s biggest signing in a relatively low key transfer window was the purchase of Jack Rodwell from Manchester City. Poyet will be hoping the former England prodigy can get his career back on track at the Stadium of Light.
Poyet has favoured a 4-3-3 formation so far this season. Lee Catermole plays in the centre as the defensive midfielder and has already racked up a yellow card and six fouls this term.
Stephen Fletcher leads the line, supported by danger men, Adam Johnson and Connor Wickham. Johnson topped the Sunderland goal table with eight in the league last year but it was Wickham’s goals towards the end of the season that proved crucial in their successful bid to avoid relegation.
Sunderland are strong at set pieces, tend to favour attacking down the left but are relatively weak at defending out wide. They were the most ill-disciplined side in the league last year, collecting a total of seven red cards and 69 bookings, and committed the third most fouls.
Spurs are favourites at 2.18, with Sunderland at 3.75, and the draw at 3.55
It’s nice to have a game with relatively little in the way of injury news, especially after an international break. Sunderland have no significant worries, while Spurs must wait on the fitness of Roberto Soldado. Long term injury victim Kyle Walker is still unavailable.
Despite our poor performance last time out, I wouldn’t make wholesale changes. Liverpool were a much tougher proposition than Sunderland and we seemed to be getting somewhere in the win against QPR.
I thought Kaboul and Rose had a particularly poor game and would like to see new signings Federico Fazio and Ben Davies come in to take their place.
Another problem was our inability to track runners from midfield. Though not in Sterling’s league, Wickham and Johnson could pose us similar problems. I would be quite interested to see Stambouli partner Capoue in midfield for this reason.
With the international break coming straight after the end of the transfer window, I am quite excited at the prospect of seeing Fazio and Stambouli play.
Prediction: Sunderland 0 Spurs 2
Do you agree with my team? Let me know in the comments below.
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