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Tottenham Hotspur take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the Premier League on Saturday night, with both teams desperate for a win, albeit for different reasons.
Spurs have endured a dismal run of results of late, managing just 1 point from three league matches, though they ended that poor streak with a 2-1 comeback win over London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage last midweek.
The victory also has helped Tottenham rise from ninth to sixth in the league table and get their top-four challenge back on track. Andre Villas-Boas' men, who now faces yet another club in the bottom three, will be keen on posting another victory, as they look to continue climbing up the ladder.
"At the moment it's going well for us. So to complete the bounce-back, if we can say that, it would be great to win at Sunderland. To do that after a midweek Premier League fixture and after a good draw against Man Utd, that would show we really are alive. And now a couple of wins could bring us back into the frame for the top four," Villas-Boas said.
Sunderland, on the other hand, remain rock bottom of the table, two points below fellow relegation battlers Fulham and Crystal Palace. However, the Black Cats were desperately unlucky to lose to Chelsea in midweek, despite managing to score three goals against the west London heavyweights.
With Palace winning two of their last three matches and Fulham improving under new boss Rene Meulensteen, Sunderland manager Gus Poyet knows they need a positive result against his former club. The Uruguayan also tried his hand in some pre-match mind games, by stating Spurs are clearly missing former talisman Gareth Bale and the new players would take some time to adapt.
"In the last year and a half, Tottenham in some games did not play very well and they won because Gareth came up with something unique. Now it's a totally different situation. Spurs have got plenty of options, plenty of new players who need to adapt to football here and to the way they play," Poyet pointed out.
"Trying to keep everybody happy and playing too many games and a few injuries, it's not easy. It looks easy from outside, but it's very difficult. It's really strange that you change so many players and the players gel together very quickly. Most of the time, you need six or eight months to make it work," he added.
Sunderland: Defender Carlos Cuellar (hip) and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) have been ruled out, while John O'Shea (groin) will have a late fitness test.
Spurs: Jan Vertonghen suffered an ankle injury in midweek and is a major doubt for tonight, while Christian Eriksen (ankle) and youngster Harry Kane (back) remain sidelined. Danny Rose (ankle) and Mousa Dembele (hip) have returned to training but the former is short on match fitness to make it to the 18-man squad.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 11 pm IST start on Saturday, with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2. You can also catch the match via live streaming by clicking HERE. To watch the action in the US, click HERE. To live stream it in the UK, click HERE. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can click HERE.
Expected lineups: Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, Brown, O'Shea, Dossena; Ki; Giaccherini, Gardner, Colback, Borini; Altidore
Spurs: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Naughton; Sandro, Capoue; Lennon, Paulinho, Holtby; Defoe
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