Premier League preview: Sunderland v Tottenham
By Football News
Confidence will be high amongst the Sunderland camp when they play host to Champions League hopefuls Tottenham on Saturday.
Sunderland claimed the scalp of defending champions Manchester City on Boxing Day, with Adam Johnson's second-half strike proving the difference against his former side.
The victory was Sunderland's second win in succession and third in four games, while it was their second straight clean sheet.
And despite Sunderland's position in the Premier League - 13th - they boast one of the best defences with 24 goals conceded in 19 games, meaner than pacesetters Manchester United, who have shipped 28 goals.
Sunderland's recent form has eased the pressure on manager Martin O'Neill, who was facing an uncertain future prior to the club's triumph against Reading a fortnight ago with just six points collected out of a possible 30.
The games are coming thick and fast, though, and it won't get any easier at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Tottenham, who thrashed a youthful and inexperienced Aston Villa outfit 4-0 on Wednesday, are on track to achieve their objective of a return to Champions League football.
Gareth Bale's stellar hat-trick at Villa Park, his first in England's topflight, ensured Tottenham remain ahead of Everton in the coveted fourth position and just two points shy of London rivals Chelsea.
Tottenham's lofty standing is down to their current form, which has resulted in only one defeat from their past seven league fixtures.
And recent history against Sunderland bodes well for Tottenham, who are unbeaten in four games against Saturday's opponents since losing 3-1 in April 2010.
Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown is not expected to make a return until the end of January, while bustling midfielder and captain Lee Cattermole is still over a month away from football.
Andre Villas-Boas has no new injury concerns apart from Clint Dempsey and Younes Kaboul, who both missed the Boxing Day clash.