Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland: Preview, Likely Line-up & Predicted Score

By on December 17, 2011

So on Thursday night Spurs European adventure for this season came to an end, despite a 4-0 win at Shamrock. The perceived wisdom is that this is a blessing in disguise and can leave Harry Redknapp and his team to concentrate on getting Spurs back into the Champions League. Still, the Europa League could have been very winnable and would look nice in our trophy cabinet. Never mind it’s not to be and now attention turns to the first of two tough home fixtures before Christmas.

Sunderland are the visitors on Sunday and with new manager Martin O’Neill at the helm are fresh from a last gasp win against Blackburn. A new manager often revitalises a struggling team and O’Neill certainly seems to have lifted Sunderland already. Although the value of a win against Blackburn should surely be questioned. Spurs meanwhile will be looking to put last weeks defeat to Stoke behind them and will attempt to set off on another winning run to carry on the push for Champions League qualification and the possibility of a title challenge.

Sunderland will hope that Nicklas Bendtner is available and the crueller Spurs fans will too. The self proclaimed ‘best striker in the world’ can on his day dent any defence, but has thus far through his career more often threatened row Z than opposition keepers. Besides his fitness concerns Bendtner, along with club captain Lee Cattermole was arrested for criminal damage, it will be interesting to see how fiery Irishman O’Neill deals with the pair. If Bendtner’s not fit or able to start then the young Conor Wickham is likely to retain his place as the lone frontman. It’s a lot of responsibility for the teenager but he’s certainly not lacking in the physicality department and has shown flashes of the quality that made him a target for ourselves and other big clubs.

Sunderland’s two biggest threats are likely to be Stephan Sessegnon and Seb Larsson. Sessegnon arrived last season from PSG and is a lively and tricky player who is prone to bouts of indifference. Hopefully he’ll not be up for a cold Sunday afternoon at The Lane. Larsson is in this blogs opinion a massively underrated player who has been unlucky to not move to bigger clubs than Birmingham and Sunderland. His delivery from open play is excellent whilst his dead balls can be lethal. Benoit Assou-Ekotto will need to maintain his concentration throughout in order to keep the Swede in check.  On the other flank Kieran Richardson is a player who’s always promised a lot yet rarely delivered on his potential, if he has a blinder he could trouble Kyle Walker but Kay-Dub must rate his chances of winning that duel.

Sunderland’s midfield, if without Cattermole, is likely to be David Vaughan and Jack Colback, they are workmanlike and will put in a good ‘shift’ but in all honesty Super Scott Parker and Luka Modric should by rights win that battle. At the back Sunderland will likely have O’Shea at right back and Bardsley at left back, which is odd because they are left and right footed respectively. Maybe ‘inverted’ full backs are the new cool thing to have in football and O’Neill sees himself as a trendsetter? Between them will probably be Wes Brown and Titus Bramble. Adebayor will like his chances against that pairing and keeper Keiren Westwood could be in for a busy day.

Spurs biggest worry for the line-up is at centre back. This year Younes Kaboul has been phenomenal but after Chris Foy’s Stoke nightmare is now suspended for this match. Ledley King also remains a doubt but Redknapp has not ruled out a return for his skipper. If King doesn’t make it then Gallas and Bassong are likely to form a defensive partnership that could have Spurs fans worried. Both have had limited opportunities this season and have yet to look anywhere near their best, here’s hoping it’s a case of needs must and they come through. Brad Friedel will continue his run of consecutive Premier League games and there is no reason to suspect that Walker and Assou-Ekotto won’t return to their rightful full back positions. With no other fitness worries the midfield four doesn’t need to be messed with, Lennon, Parker, Modric and Bale are all on form and are all more than capable of tearing Sunderland apart at will.

Ahead of them, Emmanuel Adebayor will continue to offer a figurehead who is capable of troubling the best defences in the world, the only question will be, who with? Fresh from his goal against Shamrock there will be the usual clamour for Defoe and a good old fashioned 4-4-2. Defoe of course can be a lethal finisher but clearly Rafa van der Vaart offers more to the team and it seems nonsensical to not start the World Class Dutchman. Whichever Redknapp goes with, it will be a tough ride for Sunderlands defence. Options from the bench should be enhanced by the return of Niko Kranjcar and maybe Pavlyuchenko. Andros Townsend will hope his thrilling performance at Shamrock will get him a place on that bench too.

Prediction

It may be a cliche but there really are ‘no easy games in the Premier League’ and this certainly won’t be one of them. O’Neill will ensure that Sunderland fight all the way and will hope they can contain Spurs. The home side meanwhile will believe that last week’s result was a blip and that this game should see a return to ‘business as usual’. I think Sunderland will frustrate but can see 2 or 3 being scored in quick succession if Spurs get one and I’ve also got a feeling that a team are due a proper ‘kicking’ at The Lane this season. I’m going for 5-0 Spurs to set us up for Chelsea’s arrival on Thursday.

Thanks to THFC1882.com for submitting this guest post.

2 Comments

  1. Dan

    December 17, 2011 at 10:12 am

    So biased toasted spurs. Yes, they’re good, but, out off the Europa league, beat by a team they themselves said should be easy, and only one way of playing. Vaughan and Colback have more than enough ability, intelligence and energy to stop the slowest player ever (Parker) and Modric, who shoots at every possibility, and they usually aren’t great. O’Shea is right footed. This is my main example of how this is so biased: “Sessegnon arrived last season from PSG and is a lively and tricky player who is prone to bouts of indifference.” this then describes the two central midfielders of spurs: “Super Scott Parker and Luka Modric should by rights win that battle.” Sessegnon has enough to trouble the fairly weak defence of spurs, including the ex-dirty newcastle tw** Sebastian Bassong. Larssons delivery will beat whoever Assou-Ekkoto is, and Richardson can have it over the worst defensive right back in the prem. Overrated and cocky, perfect description of spurs, and redknapp. Ha’way Sunderland FTM

  2. LDNYid

    December 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

    This is a very biased article I admit, but the Sunderland fan is even more subjective; firstly, you clearly don’t watch spurs much as modric is not much of a shooter and I there was any question Mark in his game it is his lack of goals, that’s because he passes more often than he attempts to score himself;

    Parker may lack pace but his agility and positioning make up for that and he has been an absolute class act for us this season following a particularly impressive season with West Ham the season gone;

    Please don’t knock assou-ekotto when your left fullback is phil bardsley, ekotto has been consistently one of our most reliable performers for a very long time now and I personally believe he is very underrated;

    Don’t get me wrong, Sunderland have some good players but this Spurs side, man for man, are more than capable of turning you over, also, it’s a judge of the team you are facing, when there is not one of your players that I would swap for the positional equivalent of our own.

    See you at the Lane pal,

    COYS

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