Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to keep their slim top 4 hopes alive when they host bottom-placed Sunderland, who are desperate to end a seven-match winless run in all competitions. And with the Black Cats fighting for their lives at the moment, everything suggests we will see a nervy affair at White Hart Lane.
Even if the early signs of Tim Sherwood’s career in the Tottenham dugout had been more than positive, it soon became clear that Spurs would not be able to mount a serious top 4 challenge in the Premier League. Team’s European campaign ended as they were eliminated by Benfica in the Europa League quarter-finals, meaning all that’s left is for Spurs to try and improve their league position between now and the end of the season. That will be no easy task seeing as how Tottenham currently sit in seventh place in the league standings, eight points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, so it would appear as though a top 4 berth is out of their reach. Securing Europa League qualification could also prove a difficult task unless Tim Sherwood’s side can end the barren run any time soon, with his charges losing three of last four league fixtures, albeit to title contenders Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. And with games against relegation strugglers coming up, Spurs will be facing side with different kind of pressure in the upcoming weeks. Emmanuel Adebayor and Vlad Chiriches should be in contention for the Sunderland clash, but Jan Vertonghen, Roberto Soldado, Kyle Walker and Erik Lamela are out injured.
Sunderland have been showing plenty of promise since Gus Poyet took over the reigns at the Stadium of Light, but the latest dismal run of results is threatening to ruin their entire season. The Black Cats impressed to reach the Capital One Cup final, where they were beaten by Manchester City, but they have now slipped to Premiership rock bottom after Fulham had won their fixture at Villa Park. Sunderland currently sit seven points behind safety and while they do have three games in hand on most relegation rivals, they still find themselves in a very difficult position. The Black Cats have been especially disappointing of late, losing six of last seven fixtures in all competitions and only sharing spoils with Crystal Palace at home. Poyet’s switch to 5-3-2 formation has failed to produce results, with the boss coming under intense criticism for leaving his star player Adam Johnson on the bench, but the potential England international looks set to be recalled after scoring the only goal for his side against West Ham. Meanwhile, Steven Fletcher is doubtful with an ankle injury, whereas Keiren Westwood is definitely out.
Neither side have been too impressive of late and chances are we will see a scrappy affair between two teams that have a lot to lose. Tottenham may be closer to victory here, but the way they have been playing of late, betting on under 2.5 goals looks a much better option.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 34/33