Premier League preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sunderland

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  • Spurs unbeaten in 11 vs. Sunderland
  • Last loss to Black Cats: April 3, 2010
  • Last PL meeting: SUN 0-1 TOT
  • Spurs 4th in PL; Sunderland 18th

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Tottenham Hotspur’s quest to finish in the top four of the Premier League suffered a significant blow on Wednesday, when Leicester City walked out of White Hart Lane with all three points. Having suffered their third defeat of the league season, Saturday’s date with relegation-threatened (again) Sunderland (Watch live at 7:45 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) became all the more a must-have three points.

With just one point to show for their last two league games (draw with Everton), Tottenham’s long-shot hopes of challenging for the title have surely gone, while West Ham United and Manchester United have crept to within one and two point of Spurs, in fifth and sixth respectively. On the other side, Sunderland approach Saturday’s clash at White Hart Lane having won back-to-back league games for just the second time all season (3-1 over Aston Villa; 4-2 over Swansea City).

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Former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe bagged a hat trick in the win against Swansea, while Spurs’ talismanic striker Harry Kane has failed to score in each of his last three league games (three goals in two games prior).

On the injury front, everything’s looking good for Spurs, who saw midfielder Mousa Dembele (ankle) return to action on Wednesday. Only Ryan Mason (ankle) is in doubt for Wednesday, and even he’s likely to be available. For Sunderland, former Spurs defender Younes Kaboul remains on the shelf with a hamstring injury, while midfielder Sebastian Larsson‘s knee injury persists and figures to sideline him once again.

What they’re saying

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino: “We need to be calm. There are no worries. We created a lot of chances and deserved more but in football you need to be clinical, a little bit lucky as well and we weren’t [on Wednesday]. It’s important to keep calm and keep working hard. We’ve provided the players a good assessment from the game and realise maybe we need to fix some things.”

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe: “It was an important hat trick and every win is vital now. We knew it was going to be a difficult game but we had a good plan and were organized. They want to play football and we had to try and stop them from playing, but we had great energy and I thought everyone played well so it was an unbelievable win.”

Prediction

Despite the result on Wednesday, Spurs were probably the better side with a lion’s share of possession and a number of quality chances they simply didn’t take. Spurs won’t allow the game to get stretched the way it did against Swansea, meaning the Black Cats will be forced to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense (17 goals conceded in 21 games), and do so while seeing very little of the ball. That’ll be a big ask for Sunderland. Spurs 3-1 Sunderland.