Tottenham Hotspur Preview (H) - December 29
SUNDERLAND HOST Tottenham Hotspur in their final fixture of 2012 as they look to build on a run of three wins from four Barclays Premier League games.
A Boxing Day victory over Manchester City at the Stadium of Light saw Martin O'Neill's side record back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time this season after beating Southampton the weekend before Christmas.
New Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas has quickly won round the doubters who suggested upon his appointment that he was damaged goods following a failed spell at Chelsea.
Having tasted defeat just twice in the league since his summer appointment, the Portuguese has guided the North London outfit to fourth-place in the Premier League table and qualification for the Champions League looks a good bet at this stage.
The former of Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe has in no small part helped Villas-Boas' side to the Champions League spots, with the two men bagging 19 top-flight goals between them already this term.
Defoe, now 30, is enjoying one of his best seasons to date in a Tottenham shirt, bagging 10 of those goals already.
Often unfancied by Harry Redknapp despite being signed numerous times by the Queens Park Rangers boss, Defoe is reaping the rewards of the faith put in him by Villas-Boas and is keeping summer signing Emmanuel Adebayor a periphery figure so far.
The former Bournemouth (loan), West Ham United, Portsmouth and Tottenham forward has 151 league strikes to his name in 288 league starts and has been traded between his employers for over £30m in transfer fees.
A full England international with 52 caps and 17 senior international goals to his name. At present the Beckton-born goal-getter is the eighth highest goalscorer in Spurs history.
Welsh flyer is a man who owes his breakout to former boss Redknapp after initially struggling to make the step-up to Premier League football.
Signed for anything between £5m and £10m from Southampton in 2007, the former Southampton left-sider has become one of the most feared wide players in the world in recent years.
Pushed forward from left-back to left-midfield in recent seasons, the 23 year-old is the poster boy of Welsh football and a key man for both club and country.
Blessed with superb stamina and searing pace, the six foot Cardiff-born winger is also adept at cutting in from the right and has even been deployed, briefly, in a central role under Villas-Boas.
Between the sticks French captain Hugo Lloris has finally won the tussle for the number one jersey at White Hart Lane and looks like the goalkeeper which Villas-Boas spent £8m on, despite having the dependable Brad Friedel.
The American's performances restricted the former Olympique Lyonnais number one to Europa League appearances initially, but the 26 year-old has made the starting berth his own in recent weeks with a string of assured displays.
A veteran of 42 French captains, Lloris made his les Bleus debut in 2008 and was between the sticks for their disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign as well as the summer's European Championships.
Sunderland are without Wes Brown (ankle), Lee Cattermole (knee) and potentially John O'Shea (illness).
Danny Rose is ineligible against his parent club.
Spurs will miss Younes Kaboul (knee), whilst Clint Dempsey (groin), Moussa Dembele (hip) and Tom Huddlestone (knee) are all doubts.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar (c), Kilgallon, Bardsley; Larsson, Colback; Johnson, Sessegnon, McClean; Fletcher.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Walker, Gallas (c), Verthongen, Naughton; Lennon, Dembele, Sandro, Bale; Defoe & Adebyor.
Referee: Mr M Atkinson.
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