Tottenham Hotspur travel to the Stadium Light to face last place Sunderland A.F.C. on Tuesday night. With the magic of the FA Cup still reverberating around the locker-room, Spurs head north in what is an incredibly winnable fixture. Tottenham currently sit in third place in the Premier League table, with forty-six points to their name, just one point behind second-placed Arsenal, and eight behind frontrunners Chelsea. The Black Cats, on the other hand, have only won four games in twenty-two tries, and have secured just fifteen points overall.
Its not to say that many bottom dwellers in the second half of a Premier League season are star-studded, but this Sunderland team feels like a high-end scrap yard at best. One is very familiar with most names on the roster, and many of these players have competed at a decent level before — or at least featured for a “big” club at one point — but those days are gone and the sum of Sunderland’s parts are erratic.
Of all of these parts, Jermain Defoe is the shiniest. Since his return from Toronto, he has been nothing short of effective and reliable. The quality he has in front of net is perpetual. If given an inch in a dangerous spot, Spurs will certainly pay the price. Outside of that though, there isn’t much to fear. The Black Cats dealt Patrick Van Aanholt to Palace today for £14 million pounds, which seems like a good bit of business for a defensive liability, but he was also among their biggest threats going forward, marauding up and down the left-flank and providing danger and service from the outside back position. Borini isn’t in the best of forms, while Januzaj isn’t having a breakout campaign like Wearside supporters would have hoped. They also signed free agent Joleon Lescott to their side. Oh boy. #CRUCIAL.
Tottenham should be rested heading into this fixture. Its an away match and the Premier League can be unpredictable, but if Spurs put forth a genuine effort, their talent should see them through the day. Further, there is a guarantee that Chelsea or Liverpool (or both!) will drop points. The three points then have that extra bit of significance tied to them.
How to Watch
Date/time: Tuesday, January 31, 7:45 p.m. (ET), 2:45 p.m. ET (UK)
Venue: The Stadium of Light, Sunderland, UK
Official: Lee Mason
TV: NBC Sports Extra Time (USA), not televised, (UK), TSN1 (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London,BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
The wonderful news is that Toby, Harry, and Danny are all fit for the trip to Wearside. The bad news, and by news I mean the black hole of unchanging status, is that Erik Lamela remains sidelined. The medium news is that Poche stated that Jan is only three to four weeks away from his return. Two out of three ain’t bad.
I am not going to get cute with the lineup, nor fill this blog up with unnecessary words. Poche chose to stay with 3-4-3 against City, only to pull Wimmer at half and revert back to a 4-2-3-1. I think its safe to say then that the 3-4-3 is our de facto starting formation, even with Jan out, and if the core first team players stay healthy, there won’t be much change to the first eleven.
Hugo will start in net, with Dier, Toby, and Wimmer across the back three, and Danny Rose and Kyle Walker deployed as the the left and right wing-backs respectively. Our destroyer midfield partnership of Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembélé will be trotted out again, with Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli playing in front of them, along with Harry Kane as the lone striker.
Jake Meador and Brian Mechanick both cited Jan Vertonghen’s injury as a reason to be hesitant heading to the Etihad and both predicted 1-1 draws. They didn’t hit the exact mark, but they both gained crucial points at the top of the table. The rest of the masthead wasted time and energy writing two to three grammatically average sentences of complete nonsense and inaccuracy. I feel like I don’t even exist.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League
|Earl of Shoop||11|
Dustin Menno: I haven’t really watched a whole lot of Sunderland this season but I’m pretty sure they’re worse than Wycombe. 3-0 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: An away fixture no doubt, but one in which we should win. General anxiety says this a trap game before a big matchup against Liverpool, logic says that Sunderland are bad at football. I’ll take logic. Spurs 3-0.
Jake Meador: Sunderland will make this close for annoying and predictable reasons. But Spurs win despite a goal from Defoe for the Black Cats. 2-1, Tottenham.
GN Punk: Sunderland are bad. Spurs are good. Do we really have to analyze any further? 3-0 Spurs.
Skipjack: 1-1 draw. Why would things start going right now.
Pardeep Cattry: This one will probably be easier than Wycombe. 3-0 Spurs.
Brian Mechanick: I feel a bounce back game after a scraper in the FA Cup. 2-0 Spurs.