12th February 2011, 2:57pm
Black Cats aiming to take full advantage of Spurs who will have sights on Euro glory.
Sunderland failed in their opportunity to close in on the top five when losing at Stoke last weekend. The Black Cats twice took the lead but they eventually succumbed to Stoke’s never say die, everything including the kitchen sink approach that produced a brace of late goals to give the hosts all three points in a 3-2 win. It was Sunderland’s second successive defeat after a 4-2 home defeat to Chelsea just four days before and the two disappointing results have made a dent in Sunderland’s hopes of participating in European football for the first time since they took part in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup competition of the 1973-74 season. A knee problem kept goalkeeper Craig Gordon out of the midweek Scotland match but he’s likely to be fit in time to face Spurs but midfielder Jordan Henderson is doubtful with groin and hamstring problems that kept him out of midweek England Under-21 action.
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The long trip up to the North East is merely the beginning of a huge few days for Tottenham with a momentous trip to Italy happening just a matter of hours later for a Champions League last sixteen tie against AC Milan at the San Siro. First things first though, as the right result on Wearside could nudge Spurs up one very important place into fourth as a vulnerable Chelsea side have to wait until Monday night to make the short hop over to neighbours Fulham. Either way Tottenham will want to keep up the pressure on the West London rivals as they are the only team in the top four who are within immediate striking distance with third placed Manchester City being five points to the good. Rafael Van Der Vaart and Gareth Bale are unlikely to play due to injury but both are expected to recover in time for the trip to Italy, but Peter Crouch is expected to have recovered from the back injury that kept him out of the midweek England friendly in Denmark.
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After relying on Darren Bent for their goals for so long, Sunderland surprisingly haven’t suffered any adverse reaction on the goal scoring front since his departure to Aston Villa but the problem is that they’ve started leaking goals, shipping four goals against Chelsea and another three last week at Stoke which should fill the North London entertainers with confidence. The Stadium of Light hasn’t been the best of hunting grounds for Spurs in recent seasons though having failed to win in their last five visits, drawing twice and losing on three occasions, and with there being every chance that Tottenham will have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League blockbuster, take the Black Cats at 2.87 with Skybet to see off their distracted visitors.
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Stakes 3/10 on Sunderland at 2.87 with Skybet.