Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sunderland

Tottenham meet Sunderland for the 31st time in the Premier League; with twenty wins and only one home defeat, Spurs haven’t lost this fixture since 2010. White Hart Lane welcomes back former striker Jermain Defoe, whose 15 goals last season helped Sunderland to avoid relegation. The striker already has two goals this season and is one of the few players to shine for new boss David Moyes. Sunderland were busy in the transfer window with ten acquisitions, particularly raiding his former club Manchester United for youngsters Paddy McNair, Donald Love and a loan move for Adnan Januzaj.  Mousa Dembele has finally served his six game suspension and is available for this game. Spurs have missed his presence in midfield having won more tackles and completed more dribbles than any other Spurs player last season. He boasted an impressive 51.7% win percentage and claimed an average of two points a game, this dropping to 44.4% and 1.4 points when not in Pochettino's side.

Sunderland line up in 4-4-1-1 formation, they will try to be rigid, organised and difficult to beat. Key to a David Moyes side is the relationship between the wide players notably at Everton Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar.  He has once again teamed up with the latter and will hope he can be as successful with Patrick Van Aanholt. The former Spurs man, Steven Pienaar, is aiming to get his career back on track at Sunderland. Spurs will line up in 4-2-3-1, they will look to control the game by retaining possession. Being a home game against a team who will come to defend, Pochettino’s team need to be patient and ensure they utilise effective movement in the final third. The Spurs boss will have to assess his squad after the mid-week game and may have to use some rotation. The key battle in this game could be the wide defenders, both teams have very attacking full-backs who provide the width for their teams. 

Spurs finally hit top gear away to Stoke with a 4-0 win for the second season in a row. Son on his first start of the season scored two goals and had an assist. Christian Eriksen also had his best game of the season with two assists. Both Dele Alli and Harry Kane opened their accounts for the season, it was Kane’s 50th Premier League goal in 90 appearances. He is the 11th quickest player in Premier League history to reach this landmark and the quickest in Spurs history. He joins a small illustrious list of players for Spurs who have reached the milestone, Sheringham, Keane and Defoe. The win sent Spurs 4th in the league, they will hope to start in a quicker fashion than in their loss to Monaco in the Champions League. Sunderland fell to 3-0 defeat at home to Everton, they are yet to win in the Premier League this season with one draw and three defeats. They head into Sunday’s game 2nd from bottom on goal difference. Sunderland could find themselves in another relegation battle for the fourth season in a row. Moyes stating that he was being “realistic” when warning the fans to prepare for another battle. He said; “I want to change that but I can’t do that overnight”. Whether he gets the time he needs only time will tell.  

How the teams may line up:

Tottenham XI

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