Sunderland have been a dour side all year, despite a decent collection of talent and a manager who has helped multiple teams in multiple leagues overachieve on a consistent basis. With Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson joining an already decent mid-table side, Sunderland were expected by many to challenge for a top-half place this season.
Fast forward to December, pre-Boxing Day, and things have not gone according to plan. Injuries and suspensions to captain Lee Cattermole have forced Sunderland into playing Sebastian Larsson, who is not a central midfield player, into a central midfield role. Jack Colback and James McClean seem to have regressed when most expected them to improve. Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon have shown flashes of brilliance, but have been wildly inconsistent. The back line, as a whole, simply isn't good enough despite some solid performances.
Because of all of this, Sunderland was expected to take a comfortable beating from Manchester City on Boxing Day, but Johnson stunned his former team with a winning goal, while the Sunderland defense held on to keep a clean sheet. Suddenly, one of the Premier League's minnows looks like a somewhat team, capable of pulling out a win over anyone at any moment.
I'm sure that almost all Tottenham supporters expect their team to win this weekend, because one win does not make a team. Sunderland are still in serious need of improvement in central midfield and central defense before they make a charge up the table towards the center of it. But its reasonable to ask: Has your opinion of Sunderland changed since their win over City? Are you more concerned about the match now than you were before Boxing Day?
Things are finally looking up for Sunderland, and I'm wondering if their days of being a complete cupcake might be over.