Harry Redknapp insists his Tottenham team is doing well despite Saturday’s 4-2 defeat against Bolton at the Reebok leaving his side some way off the desired Premier League pace in seventh position.
Steve Bruce’s Sunderland team will be without their prolific goal scorer Darren Bent when they kick off at White Hart Lane on Tuesday night.
Tottenham have mustered a single point from their last three Premier League games and are now five points behind Manchester City in the race for a precious Champions League place.
Of course the scintillating Champions League display last week remains high in the mind, when Tottenham terrorised European champions Inter Milan in a famous 3-1 win in North London.
But in their two previous games, Tottenham were held 1-1 at home to Everton before losing 2-0 at Old Trafford where Manchester United kept a rare clean sheet.
Bookmakers see White Hart Lane as something of a fortress, certainly this has proven to be the case on European nights this season and Paddy Power offer the best odds for a home win at 3/5.
Visitors Sunderland are coming into the game after bouncing back from the freak 5-1 mauling against derby rivals Newcastle with a 2-0 win over Stoke on Saturday.
Steve Bruce will be relieved at the response of his Sunderland team against Stoke and will hope normal business will be resumed.
Prior the derby disaster, Sunderland had one of the tightest defences in the league and had successfully shut out Manchester City and Manchester United earlier in the season.
Sunderland have a tendency to play at their best against Tuesday’s London rivals, Redknapp readily admits his side were very fortunate to claim the points from this fixture last season and it was Bruce’s team that interrupted Tottenham’s barnstorming run in the Spring, with a 3-1 drubbing in the Stadium of Light.
Redknapp will miss the influence of his midfield playmaker, Rafael van der Vaart who has a hamstring problem and Aaron Lennon is doubtful with a similar problem.
Niko Kranjcar deputised on Saturday and may be given the nod ahead of David Bentley who replaced him late in the game.
Jermain Defoe is a week away from a return but Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko have shown they can maintain Tottenham’s goal threat with twelve goals between them this term.
It has been said that if Darren Bent doesn’t score, Sunderland don’t win; but Asamoah Gyan stepped up in Bent’s absence to score both goals against Stoke.
Gyan gets the chance for his second Premier League start looking for his fourth league goal, having scored when making his debut appearance as substitute against West Brom earlier in the season.
Online bookmaker Unibet is offering odds of 3/1 for the African Player of the Year nominee to score at anytime against Tottenham.
Central defender Titus Bramble returns from a one-match suspension and he could start at the expense of John Mensah.
Possible starting lineups:
TOTTENHAM: Gomes; Hutton, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Kranjcar, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; Crouch, Pavlyuchenko.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet; Bardsley, Turner, Bramble, Onuoha; El Mohamady, Cattermole, Henderson, Malbranque; Welbeck; Gyan.