Tottenham and Sunderland will be looking to put a difficult week behind them when they meet in the Premier League on Monday.
Both sides have been in the headlines since last Sunday, Tottenham after yet another thrashing at the hands of a top-four side, while Sunderland have attracted unwanted attention after admitting to fielding an illegible player earlier in the season.
It emerged in the week that they had selected South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won – now on loan at Augsburg – without having international clearance to do so, resulting in a fine from the Premier League.
The club insisted there was no wrongdoing on their part and that the error was due to a technical fault, but the matter will still come as an unwelcome distraction for Gus Poyet’s side, who remain embroiled in the scrap to avoid relegation.
With just one point and three goals from their last six top-flight outings, the initial lift given to the club by Poyet’s arrival seems to have worn off, and the Uruguayan returns to the club where he spent three years as a player hoping for the win that could kick-start their survival push.
Captain John O’Shea believes it is time for the players to start taking responsibility for their own performances.
“You have to look at yourself and take things on board that you need to do better,” he told The Sunderland Echo.
“No player wants to get relegated. We’re going to do everything we can to stop that.
“It’s about Sunderland and making sure we continue our run of seven successive seasons in the Premier League.”
Tottenham, meanwhile, showed further evidence of their defensive culpability when they went down 4-0 at Liverpool on Sunday, which represented another blow to their hopes of qualifying for Europe.
And head coach Tim Sherwood, who played alongside opposite number Poyet at Spurs, is desperate for a win on Monday to put their Anfield nightmare behind them.
“It’s been a difficult week,” he said. “We’re all upset after Liverpool. We have to put it right and the way to do that is by winning on Monday.
“We have six games remaining and they’re all cup finals. It’s important for pride and for the fans. It’s important we bounce back.”
Sherwood will be boosted by the news that top scorer Emmanuel Adebayor is back in contention after a heel problem, as is defender Vlad Chiriches (back) and Paulinho (conjunctivitis).
Missing for the hosts are Jan Vertonghen (knee), Roberto Soldado (ankle), Kyle Walker (groin) and Erik Lamela (back) while Sunderland are without Kieren Westwood (shoulder), and Steven Fletcher remains doubtful with an ankle problem.
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