Match Preview: Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur
Stadium of Light, Sunderland (Capacity: 49,000)
Saturday 3rd April 2010, Kick Off 15:00
Premier League, Match 33 (32 for Tottenham Hotspur)
Sunderland: 13th in Premier League, 35 points from 96
Tottenham Hotspur: 4th in Premier League, 58 points from 93
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistant referees: Jake Collin & Michael Murphy
Fourth official: Nigel Miller
Tottenham Hotspur visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday 3rd April on a run of five consecutive Premier League wins, which equals the club record in the Premier League era. Harry Redknapp's side have upped their performance levels recently and have now earned 24 points in the 12 League matches during the second half of the 2009-10 season - an average of two points per match - and are in with a decent shot of securing that elusive fourth place finish.
Spurs last match was a 2-0 home win over Portsmouth in which Peter Crouch scored after a Gareth Bale assist and Niko Kranjcar got the second after great work from Luka Modric. The game saw young full-back Kyle Walker make his first team debut for Spurs and he became the 171st player to represent Spurs in the Premier League and the 7th to make his League debut this season.
Sunderland lost their away game at Liverpool on Sunday 3-0 which brought to an end a useful sequence of five unbeaten matches. Before that run they had some rather disappointing results after a good start to the season when they were pushing for a European place.
The reverse fixture at White Hart Lane last November resulted in a 2-0 win for Spurs with Robbie Keane (now on loan at Celtic) and Tom Huddlestone scoring the goals and Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes saving a Darren Bent penalty. Last season, Sunderland took four points out of six off Spurs, winning 2-1 at White Hart Lane and drawing 1-1 at Sunderland. Of the 17 Premier League matches played so far, Spurs have won 11, Sunderland have won 4 and two matches have been drawn.
The current Sunderland squad features many familiar faces to Spurs and includes former players Darren Bent, Steed Malbranque, Frazer Campbell, Andy Reid and Marton Fulop. In addition, Tottenham's Scottish full-back Alan Hutton is on loan to Sunderland but he won't be able to play for the Black Cats against his parent club.
Sunderland will expect to have John Mensah fully recovered from his knee injury and Andy Reid back from his hamstring problem in time for the match against Spurs. Otherwise, the Black Cats have a full squad to choose from, except for Alan Hutton who is ineligible.
Jermain Defoe is back - but Harry Redknapp is without key players for the trip to Sunderland. Our top-scorer this term returns to the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury but Harry faces a headache in central defence and central midfield as he prepares for Premier League clash at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. Unfortunately, the injury list again includes Tom Huddlestone, who is struggling with the ankle problem that kept him out for the best part of a month recently. Michael Dawson is ruled out after an Achilles problem forced him out of the action against Portsmouth last weekend. Captain in recent weeks, 'Daws' has started the last 27 matches - a run where we've lost just four games in all competitions.
Vedran Corluka joins the defensive absentee list after he was also forced off early against Pompey with an ankle injury. Ledley King is on his way back from a thigh problem but with him still out, it means Harry is without central defenders Ledley, Daws and long-term injured Jonathan Woodgate plus possible central defensive cover in Vedran and Tom. "Michael picked up an Achilles injury last weekend and Tom Huddlestone's ankle has blown up again, so they are both out," reported Harry on Friday. "Ledley is doing okay, he's not available but he's getting there. Hopefully he's not too far from fitness and we're going to need him if Michael's Achilles doesn't improve. "Woodgate is out long-term and Younes Kaboul is cup-tied for Wembley, so we're short of centre-halves."
Harry's problems are not just defensive though as Wilson Palacios (adductor) looks likely to miss Sunderland and Jermain Jenas (groin) is still out - alongside Tom - so all three central midfielders could be out. "It's a problem but we've done really well without so many players out injured," said Harry. "We've managed to keep picking up fantastic results and we'll see how we go again at Sunderland."
Aaron Lennon (groin) also remains out but the positive news is that he's progressing well. ""Yes, he's coming on well, he's improving," added Harry. "Yesterday (Thursday) was probably the best day he's had. "He's worked hard with the fitness coaches and he's getting there. He's improving day by day, but we won't be taking any chances with him."
NIKO KRANJCAR ON SUNDERLAND:
Niko Kranjcar has paid testament to our run of winning five straight league games on the trot - but knows continuing the run at Sunderland on Saturday is a must. The Croatian midfielder believes we can be proud of our recent form, which has seen us get ourselves into pole position in the race for fourth place despite injuries to key players. But April brings about a massive test of our credentials, starting with the trip to Wearside before a run of three straight games against the top three sides in the country. Put an FA Cup Semi-Final with Portsmouth in amongst all that, and it's clear we need as much confidence as possible going into what could prove to be a season-defining period. So victory at the Stadium of Light is key, according to Niko:
"If we get those three points then we'd have done our job over the last six games and built great momentum going into the Cup semi-final and the three massive league games that will be in front of us. To win five on the trot at this time of year is massively important, and we've done it despite injuries to key players - so you couldn't ask for more. We're talking players who have clinched games for us throughout the course of the season, yet we've kept on winning, which is a great achievement. We want to continue on this form and try to achieve our goals, which is finishing in the top four and winning the FA Cup. But I think we're calm and we all know that we need to be focused on the next game, which in this case is Sunderland away."
• In 17 Premier League encounters, Tottenham have won 11, Sunderland four and there have been just two draws.
• Spurs have not won in their last four visits to the Stadium of Light (W2, D2).
• Tottenham's Jermain Defoe has scored penalties in two of his last three games against Sunderland and Kieran Richardson has scored in two of his last three appearances against Spurs.
• Sunderland have six former/current Tottenham players in their ranks: Darren Bent, Frazier Campbell, Marton Fulop, Alan Hutton (loan), Steed Malbranque and Andy Reid. Bent scored 25 goals in 79 appearances (36 as a substitute) for Tottenham.
• The Black Cats have won only nine of their 37 Premier League games in April.
• They have lost just one of their last 15 league games at home.
• Tottenham are chasing a sixth successive league win. This would represent their best-ever run in the Premier League. The last time they won six in succession was in the 1989-90 season.
• Spurs have won their last two games away from home. The last time they won three consecutive games on the road was December 2004.
• They have scored 12 times in their last five games - at a rate of 2.4 goals per game.
LAST MATCH LINE-UPS:
Sunderland (L 0-3 Liverpool A)
Gordon, Bardsley, Turner Ferdinand, Malbranque (Jones 51), Richardson, Henderson (Zenden 78), Cana, Cattermole (Da Silva 46), Campbell, Bent
Substitutes: Carson, Kilgallon, Liddle, Mwaruwari
Yellow Card: Bent
Tottenham Hotspur (W 2-0 Portsmouth H)
Gomes, Kyle Walker, Dawson (Kaboul 61), Bassong, Bale, Bentley, Huddlestone, Modric, Kranjcar (Assou-Ekotto 66), Gudjohnsen (Pavlyuchenko 79), Crouch
Substitutes: Alnwick, Palacios, Livermore, Rose
Goals: Crouch 27, Kranjcar 41
MARK LAWRENSON'S PREDICTION (BBC):
Tottenham's results have been excellent of late, particularly if you consider the key players who have been missing. Roman Pavyluchenko has come in and scored goals, as has Peter Crouch, while David Bentley has been playing well. Sunderland had a good spell but they were taken apart by Liverpool last Sunday, and there was really nothing they could do about it. Spurs will be desperate to win and boost their fourth place hopes - particularly as they face the toughest of runs after this with games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday afternoon's match will be the 108th meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland.
Here are the results of the previous 107 matches with Spurs' score shown first:
26-Mar-1898 Friendly - H L 0 - 2 11-Feb-1899 F.A. Cup 2 12,371H W 2 - 1 Bradshaw, Cameron 02-Jan-1900Friendly - A W 3 - 1 Hughes, Pratt (2) 01-Sep-09Division 1 10,000A L 1 - 3 Morris 25-Mar-10Division 1 35,000H W 5 - 1 Curtis, Humphreys (2), Steel R, Middlemiss 26-Nov-10Division 1 12,000A L 0 - 4 01-Apr-11Division 1 26,000H D 1 - 1 Minter 16-Sep-11Division 1 16,000A D 1 - 1 R Steel 20-Jan-12Division 1 17,000H D 0 - 0 28-Sep-12Division 1 8,000A D 2 - 2 Bliss, Middlemiss 25-Jan-13Division 1 31,000H L 1 - 2 Minter 08-Nov-13Division 1 36,000H L 1 - 4 Cantrell 14-Mar-14Division 1 10,000A L 0 - 2 19-Dec-14Division 1 5,000H L 0 - 6 09-Jan-15F.A. Cup 1 17,000H W 2 - 1 Walden, Bliss 24-Apr-15Division 1 10,000A L 0 - 5 26-Mar-21Division 1 35,000A W 1 - 0 Seed 02-Apr-21Division 1 35,000H D 0 - 0 11-Mar-22Division 1 41,003H W 1 - 0 Thompson 05-Apr-22Division 1 37,000A L 0 - 2 31-Mar-23Division 1 18,000A L 0 - 2 07-Apr-23Division 1 23,571H L 0 - 1 20-Oct-23Division 1 20,000A L 0 - 1 27-Oct-23Division 1 24,840H D 1 - 1 Lindsay 20-Sep-24Division 1 30,000A L 1 - 4 Lindsay 24-Jan-25Division 1 26,696H W 1 - 0 Seed 26-Sep-25Division 1 30,700A L 0 - 3 06-Feb-26Division 1 31,434H L 0 - 2 18-Sep-26Division 1 17,459A L 2 - 3 Blair (2) 05-Feb-27Division 1 32,506H L 0 - 2 22-Oct-27Division 1 19,039H W 3 - 1 Osborne, Dimmock (2) 28-Mar-28Division 1 9,244A D 0 - 0 07-Oct-33Division 1 44,235H W 3 - 1 Hunt GS, Hall GW, Evans W 21-Feb-34Division 1 16,105A L 0 - 6 13-Oct-34Division 1 28,204A W 2 - 1 Hunt GS, Hall GW 23-Feb-35Division 1 44,886H D 1 - 1 Channell 05-Mar-38F.A. Cup 6 75,038H L 0 - 1 (All-time record attendance at White Hart Lane) 24-Jan-50F.A. Cup 4 66,246H W 5 - 1 Walters (2), Bennett (2), Medley 23-Sep-50Division 1 59,190H D 1 - 1 Baily 03-Feb-51Division 1 56,817A D 0 - 0 27-Oct-51Division 1 50,513A W 1 - 0 Walters 15-Mar-52Division 1 51,745H W 2 - 0 Bennett, Duquemin 29-Nov-52Division 1 45,980H D 2 - 2 Bennett, Duquemin 18-Apr-53Division 1 24,953A D 1 - 1 Walters 31-Oct-53Division 1 38,345A L 3 - 4 Walters, Duquemin, Robb 20-Mar-54Division 1 39,393H L 0 - 3 28-Aug-54Division 1 53,646H L 0 - 1 01-Jan-55Division 1 49,884A D 1 - 1 Dunmore 22-Oct-55Division 1 36,396H L 2 - 3 Brooks, Robb 31-Mar-56Division 1 22,311A L 2 - 3 McClellan (2) 29-Sep-56Division 1 41,657A W 2 - 0 Smith R, Stokes 09-Feb-57Division 1 52,104H W 5 - 2 Harmer, Smith R, Stokes (2), Anderson og 02-Nov-57Division 1 36,091A D 1 - 1 Brooks 15-Mar-58Division 1 40,751H L 0 - 1 04-Mar-61F.A. Cup 6 61,236A D 1 - 1 Jones 08-Mar-61F.A. Cup 6 Replay 64,797H W 5 - 0 Mackay, Smith R, Allen, Dyson (2) 07-Nov-64Division 1 36,677H W 3 - 0 Robertson, Greaves, Jones 20-Mar-65Division 1 44,394A L 1 - 2 Greaves 26-Mar-65Division 1 27,828A L 0 - 2 06-Oct-65Division 1 37,364H W 3 - 0 Mackay, Clayton, Greaves 03-Dec-66Division 1 32,733A W 1 - 0 Gilzean 03-May-67Division 1 33,936H W 1 - 0 Greaves (pen) 30-Sep-67Division 1 36,017H W 3 - 0 Greaves (2), Todd og 10-Feb-68Division 1 31,735A W 1 - 0 Jones 16-Nov-68Division 1 29,072H W 5 - 1 Greaves (4), England 01-Feb-69Division 1 22,251A D 0 - 0 27-Sep-69Division 1 30,523H L 0 - 1 17-Jan-70Division 1 13,993A L 1 - 2 Morgan 18-Aug-73Friendly - A W 1 - 0 Neighbour 20-Nov-76Division 1 30,325A L 1 - 2 Moores 16-Apr-77Division 1 34,155H D 1 - 1 Jones 10-Dec-77Division 2 31,960A W 2 - 1 Duncan (2) 22-Apr-78Division 2 38,220H L 2 - 3 Duncan, Taylor 20-Sep-80Division 1 32,030H D 0 - 0 28-Feb-81Division 1 22,382A D 1 - 1 Crooks 17-Oct-81Division 1 25,317A W 2 - 0 Hazard, Archibald 14-Apr-82Division 1 39,898H D 2 - 2 Galvin, Hoddle 18-Sep-82Division 1 21,137A W 1 - 0 Brooke 22-Jan-83Division 1 25,250H D 1 - 1 Gibson 08-Feb-84Division 1 19,327H W 3 - 0 Perryman, Archibald (2) 07-Apr-84Division 1 15,433A D 1 - 1 Falco 04-Sep-84Division 1 18,895A L 0 - 1 21-Nov-84League Cup 4 27,421A D 0 - 0 05-Dec-84League Cup 4 Replay25,835H L 1 - 2 Roberts (pen) 29-Dec-84Division 1 26,930H W 2 - 0 Hoddle, Crooks 28-Aug-90Division 1 30,214A D 0 - 0 08-Dec-90Division 1 30,431H D 3 - 3 Lineker, Walsh (2) 05-Aug-92Friendly 22,672A W 3 - 0 Anderton (3, 1pen) 29-Jan-95F.A. Cup 4 21,135A W 4 - 1 Klinsmann (2, 1pen), Sheringham, Melville og 23-Oct-96League Cup 3 24,867H W 2 - 1 Armstrong, Campbell 16-Nov-96FA Prem 31,867H W 2 - 0 Sinton, Sheringham 04-Mar-97FA Prem 20,729A W 4 - 0 Iversen (3), Nielsen 31-Oct-99FA Prem 41,904A L 1 - 2 Iversen 14-May-2000FA Prem 36,070H W 3 - 1 Anderton (pen), Sherwood, Carr 04-Nov-00FA Prem 36,016H W 2 - 1 Sherwood, Armstrong 14-Apr-01FA Prem 46,026A W 3 - 2 Clemence, Doherty (2) 19-Sep-01FA Prem 47,310A W 2 - 1 Ziege, Sheringham 02-Mar-02FA Prem 36,062H W 2 - 1 Poyet, Ferdinand 10-Nov-02FA Prem 40,024A L 0 - 2 08-Feb-03FA Prem 36,075H W 4 - 1 Poyet, Doherty, Davies, Sheringham 02-Dec-05FA Prem 36,244H W 3 - 2 Mido, Keane, Carrick 12-Feb-06FA Prem 34,700A D 1 - 1 Keane 11-Aug-07FA Prem 43,967A L 0 - 1 19-Jan-08FA Prem 36,070H W 2 - 0 Lennon, Keane 23-Aug-08FA Prem 36,064H L 1 - 2 Jenas 07-Mar-09FA Prem 37,894 A D 1 - 1 Keane 07-Nov-09FA Prem 35,955H W 2 - 0Keane, Huddlestone
LAST TIME WE MET...
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2-0 Sunderland
White Hart Lane, Saturday 7th November 2009
Sunderland were left to rue a host of missed chances as Tottenham returned to winning ways with a victory that moved them back into the top four. Robbie Keane put Spurs ahead when he bundled in Peter Crouch's knockdown and Tom Huddlestone wrapped up victory with a fierce 20-yarder on 70 minutes. But, goals aside, Sunderland dominated, with Andy Reid striking the post and Heurelho Gomes making crucial saves. The most vital came from Darren Bent's penalty after his foul on the striker.
After Premier League defeats by Stoke and rivals Arsenal, the three points were most welcome for a Tottenham side with ambitions of securing a top-four place. But on another day the Londoners could have been put to the sword by a vibrant Sunderland side, who will wonder how they failed to get anything out of a match they controlled for long periods. Few will feel the pain more than Bent, whose return to Tottenham - a club at which he spent two years, so often on the sidelines - dominated much of the pre-match talk. The 25-year-old could barely have hoped to have come into the game on better form having bagged eight goals in 11 appearances this season, but his memories of White Hart Lane will hardly have been enhanced by a miserable afternoon.
First he had to watch as Keane, one of the main reasons he missed out on first-team football at Spurs at the back end of last season, grabbed the opener. Benoit Assou-Ekotto had a big hand in the goal, his pinpoint cross nodded down expertly by Crouch and Keane bundled home from close range at the second attempt. Thereafter, though, Sunderland almost completely dominated possession and the chances - with Reid in particularly fine form in the centre of midfield. At first, the visitors' creation and inventiveness was spoiled by a lack of cutting edge up front - not helped by the absence through suspension of Kenwyne Jones - but soon Spurs were hanging on through a combination of good fortune and desperate defending.
Referee Kevin Friend handed the hosts their first slice of fortune when he waved away Sunderland's penalty appeals when Bent went down under Gomes's challenge - replays suggested the striker got to the ball milliseconds before the Brazilian - and Reid then rattled the post with a beautiful dipping volley from 35 yards. Moments later Vedran Corluka's back-header fell far too short and Gomes had to be at his best to deny the on-rushing Kieran Richardson inside the box. Tottenham had completely lost their way, but their biggest let-off came just after the break. Bent was, almost inevitably, at the heart of it. The striker, with England coach Fabio Capello watching from the stands, this time earned the penalty when he went over Gomes's challenge, but then fluffed a tame spot-kick that was kept out well by the home keeper.
To compound Sunderland's misery, Gomes escaped with just a yellow card for the foul, though he may point to the fact Bent was going away from goal and had gone down somewhat theatrically to earn the penalty in the first place. Barely believing their good fortune, Spurs finally broke out of their slumber and only a sensational Phil Bardsley block kept out Huddlestone's goal-bound drive with keeper Craig Gordon lying injured inside the area. The defender could do little about the midfielder's goal, though, Jermain Defoe holding up the ball well and then laying in Huddlestone, whose 20-yard drive rocketed in off the bar. It was a goal that more than flattered Tottenham, and the expression of Black Cats manager Steve Bruce on the sidelines told the story of a man who must be wondering what he has to do to emerge from the capital with a win after 18 successive fruitless visits.
In a scruffy finale, Spurs substitute Niko Krancjar saw a shot deflected past the post, while Gomes produced yet another fine save after Michael Turner got his head on Fraizer Campbell's cross at the other end. But in the end Sunderland's failure to finish off all their good work proved pivotal and Tottenham move above Manchester City courtesy of the three points.
Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp:
"We got away with it a bit today. We couldn't get going and Sunderland looked very, very good. Our keeper was fantastic and we've clawed out a result - sometimes football works like that. A couple of weeks ago we battered Stoke and lost. As for their penalty - Gomes says he's tried to get out of the way of the player and got kicked in the chest. I haven't seen it yet but, even if it was a penalty, I don't think he should've got a red card - Bent was going away from goal and sometimes we're too quick to send players off. I'd honestly say that even if it was my player who'd got brought down."
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce:
"Sometimes in football you have a day like today - since the beach ball incident at Liverpool we've run out of luck and we've been out of luck again today. The best opportunities and possession were ours, but we've not taken them and come away with nothing. The turning point today was the second-half penalty incident. Darren Bent was through on goal, it's a goal-scoring opportunity, and by the letter of the law their keeper should be sent off. Instead it's just a yellow card and he's had the chance to save the penalty. If we're playing 10 men who knows? Still, I'm delighted with the way we played - we completely bossed the game - that's football sometimes."
Gomes, Corluka, King (Dawson 59), Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Jenas, Palacios, Keane (Kranjcar 63), Crouch, Defoe
Substitutes: Alnwick, Hutton, Bale, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko
Yellow Card: Gomes
Goals: Keane 12, Huddlestone 68
Gordon (Fulop 66), Bardsley (Ferdinand 77), McCartney, Turner, Da Silva, Malbranque (Healy 77), Richardson, Henderson, Reid, Campbell, Bent
Substitutes: Nosworthy, Meyler, Reid, Murphy
Yellow Cards: Turner, Henderson
Referee: Kevin Friend, Attendance: 35,955