Preview: Tottenham v. Sunderland - Must win game for both sides
- Tottenham have won five and lost zero of the last seven Premier League games against Sunderland.
- Sunderland have scored a league-high 46.4% of their Premier League goals from set pieces this season.
- Tottenham have failed to score in four of their last six Premier League matches.
Gus Poyet’s Sunderland side head to White Hart Lane on Monday (3:00pm ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra) to try and match fellow relegation side, Fulham, with a win this weekend.
If they can secure the three points the Black Cats will put an end to their seven match winless streak, which has buried Sunderland at the bottom of the table. If there is a bright side to their position it’s that Sunderland holds three games in hand on Cardiff City, Fulham, Norwich and Swansea, and two games on West Brom and Crystal Palace.
Making up the seven point difference to get out of the relegation zone won’t come easy for Sunderland due to a final match schedule that includes Everton, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as relegation-threatened Cardiff, West Brom and Swansea. So Poyet’s game-plan on Monday will be relatively straight forward - take the match to Tottenham in hope of grabbing all three points.
With only two goals in their last four matches, scoring remains the bane of Sunderland’s existence. The fact that three of those matches were against the unimpressive likes of Norwich City, Crystal Palace and West Ham only magnifies the problem.
Fortunately for players like Connor Wickham, Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini, Tottenham have been leaking goals lately. In their last four matches Spurs have conceded 11 goals, resulting in three losses and a drop to 7th in the table.
For a club with distant Champions League hopes (8 points adrift of 4th placed Arsenal), this match represents an absolute must-win for Spurs. Same deal for manager Tim Sherwood, who desperately needs his side to finish the season on a strong run of form if he is to have any chance of maintaining his position.
Spurs enter the match with a laundry list of key injuries including Jan Vertonghen (knee), Roberto Soldado (ankle), Kyle Walker (groin) and Erik Lamela (back) while Emmanuel Adebayor (heel), Vlad Chiriches (back) and Paulinho (conjunctivitis) are all back in contention after missing out in the 4-0 loss to Liverpool on March 30th.
For Sunderland, Kieren Westwood (shoulder) is a long term absentee while Steven Fletcher (ankle) is doubtful.
What They’re Saying
Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood: “I’ll be on the touchline on Monday - I’ll be knocking out as many people as I can... I’ve had a lot of time to prepare this week. If they don’t know what it’s all about this week, then they ain’t going to know.”
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet: “In January we were winning so many important games and it was bringing the players together. Now we need a shock to get us going again.”
Physically, mentally and psychologically, Spurs have the look of a wounded side so a matchup with Sunderland is just what the Doctor ordered. Given the Black Cats’ relegation status, a result won’t come easy for Sherwood’s men. It will need to be earned. Personally, I think they get it but if it they don’t you can bet #SherwoodOut will dominate social media come Monday night.