Preview: Season Ends At The Lane

Stu Forster

Sunderland will wrap up a wretched season in North London while the hosts still have designs on Champions League qualifications.

Sunderland Team News

Paolo Di Canio must again do without the suspended Stephane Sessegnon and Craig Gardner, whilst on-loan Danny Rose is ineligible to face his parent club.

As a result, Jack Colback looks most likely to deputise at left-back, with David Vaughan coming into the starting line-up in midfield. Connor Wickham is fit again after returning as a substitute in the draw against Southampton and could provide an alternative to Danny Graham in attack.

Tottenham Team News

Benoit Assou-Ekotto returns after a knee injury prevented him from featuring in last week's win over Stoke City. However he is the only returnee as Sandro, Younes Kaboul and William Gallas all have longer-term injuries.

Having introduced the likes of Moussa Dembele and Jermain Defoe from the bench at the Britannia Stadium, Andre Vilas-Boas has the option to play them from the start or retain the likes of Tom Huddlestone and Emmanuel Adebayor.

Predicted Lineups

Sunderland: Mignolet; Bardsley, O'Shea, Cuellar, Colback; Larsson, Vaughan, N'Diaye, McClean; Johnson; Graham

Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Dembele, Parker; Lennon, Bale, Dempsey; Adebayor

Key Matchup: Alfred N'Diaye Vs Moussa Dembele

A contest between two physical, athletic midfielders, one which N'Diaye will need to get the better of if Sunderland are going to be competitive.

Dembele is often at the heart of Spurs' play, so limiting his space and touches will be key to Sunderland's chances.

Recent Form: WDWDW

Win: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester City (Dempsey 75, Defoe 79, Bale 82; Nasri 5)

Draw: Wigan Athletic 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Boyce 11, McManaman 49; Bale 9, Boyce og 90)

Win: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Southampton (Bale 86)

Draw: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Oscar 10, Ramires 39; Adebayor 26, Sigurdsson 80)

Win: Stoke City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (N'Zonzi 3; Dempsey 20, Adebayor 83)

Last Time Around: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Sunderland, 18/12/11

Martin O'Neill's second game in charge ended in defeat as Roman Pavluychenko scored the only goal of the game.

There isn't much more to be said other than Nicklas Bendtner was unable to take a couple of late chances, and that the defeat was addressed three days later against Queens Park Rangers.

The Ref: Andre Marriner

Sunday will be the third time that Marriner has officiated a Sunderland game this season - each of the previous matches ending in goalless draws at home.

Sunderland have mainly drawn games with the West Midlands-based ref in the middle over the last five seasons; the last loss coming in December 2010 against Blackpool.

What The Managers Said

Paolo Di Canio:

I want to be clear with them because it happens that they switch off a little bit like against Aston Villa when we desperately needed the points.

You can imagine there is a habit in this environment, in the brain, because they done well in the last game - they can have a holiday.

I am not going to accept that against any side.

On Sunday we can win, we can draw, we can lose, but if we lose we lose with dignity, we respect our colours and the fans that will follow us.

Andre Vilas-Boas:

We have to do our job and independent of results elsewhere, we want the achievement of reaching 72 points. That is important for us.

We have to win and it's not that straight-forward. The ingredients of the game are dangerous. We have to be aware. We have to focus on our task.

The determination is there. We'll focus on our job, that's most important and we'll see what happens after that.

Roker Report Predicts

It will be extremely difficult to influence Tottenham's fate without so many key players, but it presents another opportunity to assess the team's shape under Di Canio. Bereft of Sessegnon and Rose in particular, cohesion will be even more important in attack and defence, but ultimately I fear a 2-0 home win.

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