Tottenham v Sunderland, Premier League, November 7, 2009
Spurs are likely to be fired up for this one as they aim to bounce back from their chastening experience at the Emirates last Saturday. The 3-0 defeat handed out by Arsenal has firmly put Tottenham in their place and the club need to return to winning ways in the league after consecutive defeats to Stoke and the Gunners.
Harry Redknappâ€™s side fell away somewhat in October and rode their luck picking up a draw at Bolton and a win over Portsmouth and were also fortunate to face a tired Everton side in the Carling Cup. The poor results recently can be put down to Jermain Defoeâ€™s suspension and the lay-off for Luka Modric which were then compounded by Aaron Lennon picking up an injury at home to Stoke.
Defoe was in sensational form prior to his red card at Fratton Park and Spurs have missed his explosive finishing and dynamism up front. Modricâ€™s absence is quantified by the fact that Spurs have picked up just seven points from the seven league matches the Croatian playmaker has missed. And Spurs sorely missed Lennon at Arsenal last week as they didnâ€™t have a player to get in behind the Gunners defence.
Of the three, only Defoe (13/2 to score first & Spurs win) will return for the visit of Steve Bruceâ€™s Sunderland and Harry Redknapp will have a dilemma up front. Peter Crouch (7/1 to score a brace) has been predominantly used in away matches this season and the Keane-Defoe partnership has been his preferred choice. The Republic of Ireland striker has though struggled this season at times and if it had not been for his four-goal haul against Burnley in September, he would likely not have been first choice before Defoeâ€™s suspension.
Sunderland come into this match just two points behind their hosts and if they can repeat the victory they claimed in this fixture last season would leapfrog Spurs in the table. All eyes will be on Darren Bent (8/1 to score first) as he returns to the club where he spent two unhappy seasons and he will be a threat to a Tottenham defence that has kept just one clean sheet in the league this season.
Bent, who has scored eight goals in 11 games this season, has been warned not to Twitter ahead of this match after going public with his thoughts on the website during his move to the Stadium of Light. If the former Charlton striker needs any more motivation to impress he will be performing in front of Fabio Capello in what is being billed as a straight shootout between Bent and Defoe for a place in the England World Cup squad.
Frazier Campbell, who spent last season on loan at White Hart Lane, is likely to start up front alongside Bent as Kenwyne Jones is suspended after his sending off against West Ham last week. Midfield enforcer Lorik Cana is another who misses out due to suspension and with Lee Cattermole a long-term injury absentee, Sunderland may be a bit short through the middle.
Without Cattermole and Cana, much will depend on Jordan Henderson (7/1 to score) who is one of the emerging young stars in Premier League football and appears to have a bright future in the game.
With Spurs eager to banish all thoughts of conceding two goals in 11 seconds at Arsenal and with a hungry Defoe back in the side, the home team are favourites but they will be wary of Darren Bent on a revenge mission.
101gg predicts: Tottenham 3 â€“ Sunderland 2 (25/1)
Full match odds here.