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Preview: Poyet Ready To Earn His Spurs

Sunderland will look to banish all memories of defeat by QPR when resuming Premier League action tomorrow against one of Gus Poyet's former clubs Tottenham Hotspur following the two-week international break.

Johnson celebrates his opener against Spurs back in December
Johnson celebrates his opener against Spurs back in December
Chris Brunskill

Sunderland Team News

Gus Poyet will relish the welcome opportunity to select from a fully-fit squad tomorrow, with the added bonus of Sebastian Coates and Ricky Alvarez being available to him for the first time after the pair signed up on deadline-day loan deals from Liverpool and Internazionale respectively.

Meanwhile, those players away on international duty including Seb Larsson, Emanuele Giaccherini and Jozy Altidore returned unscathed and are ready to pitch in.

It'll be interesting to see if Poyet makes any significant changes to the starting line-up in light of the largely poor display at Loftus Road at the end of August, with particular uncertainty over who'll be tasked with playing wide and up-front from the outset.

Tottenham Hotspur Team News

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has a couple of new boys to call upon of his own in the shape of defender Federico Fazio and midfield man Benjamin Stambouli, with both players in the mix to make their debuts at the Stadium of Light.

Roberto Soldado is unlikely to feature and Kyle Walker definitely won't take any part in proceedings, while promising central midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is a doubt due to his late arrival back from international action with Algeria.

Pochettino favours a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Adebayor likely to lead the line once again and new signing Stambouli looking to replace Bentaleb if he is ruled out. Dembele is pushing for a start ahead of Eriksen, while former Sunderland loanee Danny Rose should make an appearance.

Predicted Line-Ups

Sunderland vs Tottenham Hotspur - Football tactics and formations

SAFC (4-1-4-1): Mannone; Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, van Aanholt; Cattermole; Johnson, Larsson, Rodwell, Giaccherini; Wickham

THFC (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose; Stambouli, Capoue; Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli; Adebayor

Key Match-Up: Lee Cattermole v Christian Eriksen

The courageous Lee Cattermole will be massively important in keeping Eriksen quiet tomorrow afternoon, with the Danish playmaker key to Spurs' success this season.

Eriksen likes to roam wherever he can find pockets of space to run into and Cattermole will be required to follow him every step of the way. His clever passing and interplay with Emmanuel Adebayor must be halted in order for Sunderland to claim the three points.

Defensive midfield dynamo Cattermole has been in fine form since the turn of the year and must do his level-best to stay on the right side of the law with the ref, while still managing to drastically reduce the impact made by Spurs' major attacking spark.

Sunderland: Recent League Form DDL

Draw: West Bromwich Albion (A) 2-2

Draw: Manchester United (H) 1-1

Loss: Queens Park Rangers (A) 0-1

Tottenham: Recent League Form WWL

Win: West Ham United (A) 1-0

Win: Queens Park Rangers (H) 4-0

Loss: Liverpool (H) 0-3

Last Time Around: Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (7/12/2013)

Sunderland gave a good account of themselves for most of the first-half when the sides last met at the Stadium of Light in December last year, as Adam Johnson gave the Black Cats the lead on 37 minutes following a mistake by Spurs 'keeper Hugo Lloris.

However, Paulinho quickly levelled matters six minutes later to deliver a real body blow to the home team right before half-time.

Things got worse early in the second period when John O'Shea put the ball into his own net in the 50th minute after good work by Mousa Dembele. Jermain Defoe went on to rattle the woodwork twice for Spurs, while Sunderland had a worthy penalty appeal turned down late on to end their hopes of restoring parity.

The Ref: Craig Pawson

Pawson takes charge of a Sunderland match for only the third time tomorrow, as he officiated in the middle for two resounding losses away to Swansea City in the league and for the FA Cup Quarter-final mauling at Hull City last term.

The South Yorkshire ref isn't too quick to show the red card generally, while only handing out a combined total of six yellows during the two fixtures he presided over involving Sunderland.

Hopefully the result will be better this time for the Black Cats this time around, though, with Pawson at the helm.

What The Managers Said

Gus Poyet:

It is a massive game against one of my old clubs.

They have great players and one of the best squads in the Premier League with plenty of options.

They also have a new manager who is a good friend which gives it something special, but it is big game for us and it will be very challenging.

We need to make sure we are at our best and control the game as much as we can, whilst being clinical in front of goal – I think it will be an exciting game.

Mauricio Pochettino:

We need to build a strong team, a confident team and a solid team. In the 90 minutes (against Liverpool), 3-0 is impossible to put forward an excuse, but when you analyse the game we get a lot of situations to improve on.

The fans watch and see that we need to improve and the changes from the past two months.

You always need time and you need passion. You also need results and I think we are heading in the right way.

Roker Report Predicts

It promises to be an exciting encounter between Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday afternoon, with the level of willingness shown from the home side to attack appearing vital to the eventual destination of the points.

Spurs remain confident despite being outplayed by Liverpool last time out, due to their hard-earned opening day victory at West Ham and subsequent thrashing of QPR. Sunderland's ability to nullify the threat posed by the likes of Eriksen, Lamela and Chadli will determine the course of the game.

Gus Poyet has some big decisions to make between Fletcher and Wickham up top, Buckley and Johnson on the right and Giaccherini and Alvarez on the left, but whomever gets the nod must be willing to run at the heart of the visitors' defence, thus giving the shaky Spurs rearguard plenty to ponder throughout the ninety minutes.

All in all, it looks like finishing all-square at 1-1 to leave Sunderland still looking for a first league victory of the season. But, maybe a bit of magic off the bench could change all that!

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