This weekend’s visitors to White Hart Lane are a Sunderland side sitting 16th in the division. Gus Poyer’s team haven’t won in four games in the league and there’s only a point separating them from the relegation zone.
The big story is the likely return to White Hart Lane of Jermain Defoe. The former Spurs striker had been training with Tottenham before signing for Sunderland just in time to face his former team.
His goal scoring record at the end of his Spurs career was pretty poor – apparently registering just two goals in his last 1,262 minutes of Premier League football. A return to Tottenham wouldn’t have made sense but it still worries me that he gets to make his Sunderland debut against us.
Poyet normally uses a 4-1-4-1 with Lee Catermole in the holding role in front of the defence. Their statistics are pretty mediocre, with the third lowest shots for and the equal second worst shots against in the league.
One thing that marks Sunderland out is their use of the left wing to attack. 42% of their forward play this season has been down that side, with Adam Johnson the main weapon. The England winger caused us problems in the encounter earlier in the season, scoring in the fourth minute.
It will be very interesting to see if Defoe starts. If not Connor Wickham or Steven Fletcher could spearhead the attack.
Spurs are big favourites at 1.61, the draw is out at 4.3, while a Sunderland win is 6.6.
Nabil Bentaleb, now a key part of the Spurs starting eleven, is at the African Cup of Nations. There are doubts over centre backs, Fazio, Kaboul and Chiriches. Mason and Lamela remain out through injury.
Liam Bridcutt is suspended for Sunderland, while Jack Rodwell faces a late fitness test.
Spurs will have to put last week’s disappointment at Crystal Palace behind them. The midweek FA Cup win will have helped.
That victory was notable for the four scorers, all who have had their problems recently. It was also notable for one player who did not score – Roberto Soldado. Despite two assists, it is his terrible miss from close range that sticks in the memory.
One player who seems very likely to leave now is Younes Kaboul, who was at fault for the fist goal and got into arguments with both Vertonghen and Vorm.
Today, I would be tempted to try a Stambouli, Capoue central midfield, more through hope than expectation. Capoue does not seem to have the dynamism we need but his passing is excellent and in the absence of other options I would give him a go.
Dier may have to fill in at centre back. I’d quite like to see how he gets on – he has been unfairly judged on some poor performances at right back.
Townsend was another success story from midweek and I would play him on the right wing. He will have to be disciplined and offer his fullback support.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2 – Sunderland 0
Do you think Tottenham should have gone for Defoe? Do you think Spurs will win today? What’s your team? Let me know your opinions in the comments below.