Managers: (Wins-Draws-Losses, Seasons)
Sunderland: Gus Poyet (3-1-4, 1st season)
Tottenham Hotspur: Andre Villas-Boas (42-20-15, 2nd season)
English Premier League Standings: (Wins-Draws-Losses, Points, Goals Scored:Goals Allowed)
No. 6 Tottenham Hotspur (7-3-4, 24 pts, 13:15)
No. 20 Sunderland (2-2-10, 8 pts, 11:28)
There is no question that Tottenham Hotspur has struggled offensively during the English Premier League this season, scoring only 13 goals in 14 matches, but the statistic that is very interesting is their goal total in non-Premier League matches. In those nine matches, Tottenham has scored 25 goals, nearly double their output in the league.
The number that makes this statistic even more puzzling is that Tottenham is third in the Premier League with 88 shots on goals, trailing only Manchester City and Liverpool. Tottenham has a strong squad with numerous attacking options, and AVB will need to find the right combination if he wants to keep his job.
If any team can relate with the offensive struggles of Tottenham, that team would be Sunderland. Sunderland has only managed 33 shots on goal in 14 Premier League matches this season (an average of just 2.3 shots per game). To put that into context, Manchester City is averaging 2.8 goals per game.
Obviously the biggest problem that Sunderland is having would be generating scoring chances for which the blame could be placed on the strikers; in this case, the blame needs to be placed on the tactics.
Sunderland has two world-class strikers in Steven Fletcher and Jozy Altidore, yet manager Gus Poyet favors the one-striker approach. Poyet will need to reconsider his tactics to find attack somewhere, or else the club can expect to return to the second division for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Sunderland Projected Lineup: 4-1-4-1
Ondřej Čelůstka — John O’Shea — Wes Brown — Phil Bardsley
Sebastian Larsson — Craig Gardner — Emanuele Giaccherini — Adam Johnson
Tottenham Hotspur Projected Lineup: 4-2-3-1
Kyle Walker — Vlad Chiricheș — Michael Dawson — Jan Vertonghen
Sandro Raniere — Étienne Capoue
Andros Townsend — Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson — Erik Lamela
Tottenham travels to the Stadium of Light for an English Premier League clash with Sunderland on Saturday, Dec. 7. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. ET and the match can be seen nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2, Sunderland 0
If there is a perfect time for Tottenham to get back on track offensively, that time is now. Sunderland is tied with Norwich City for last in the league in goals allowed at 28, and has not beaten Tottenham in their last six meetings. I expect AVB to throw Tottenham forward looking for goals, knowing that anything less than a win over last-place Sunderland could spell the end for AVB’s reign at Tottenham.