The last match of this Premier League weekend see us host the Black Cats with Spurs vs Sunderland at White Hart Lane.
Former Spurs man Gustavo Poyet is also in desperate need of the points with his side now bottom of the Premier League. So what can we expect and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Sunderland this time?
Sunderland tactical switch
Gus Poyet completely flipped the way Sunderland were playing when he took over from Paulo Di Canio.
The temperamental Italian was using a very high tempo pressing game and was looking to cross the ball at every opportunity during his brief time in charge.
Poyet has since introduced a ball possession and counter attacking style. Sunderland went from being frequent crossers of the ball to one of the fewest. In fact during the Uruguayan’s time in charge, only Liverpool have put less balls in to the box.
He seemed to be developing a style, but his strategy has changed with his recent formation switch. Previously he was playing 4-1-4-1 or 4-3-3, but in his last two games, he has opted for three centre backs. This has seen him use much more aggressive wingbacks who are looking to cross for two centre forwards.
Since the switch in system, the Black Cats have gone from attempting 15 crosses per game to 25 per game, a massive leap. Marcos Alonso and Phil Bardsley are the main sources, along with Adam Johnson. He has strangely had to make do with a role from bench, but has scored and created both of their goals in this new system.
Whether Poyet sticks with his 3-4-1-2 formation or returns to the 4-3-3 of old will have a significant bearing on his strategy. The former set up will mean his side will look to cross, whereas the latter will see a lot more through balls for runners like Fabio Borini.
Sunderland conceding chances
In a system with three centre backs, the space to attack is usually out wide from the zones behind the wingbacks. This naturally draws the centre backs out in to spaces they don’t always want to be in.
With Sunderland it has been no different, but they have been particularly susceptible to being attacked down their right side. This part of the formation has Santiago Vergini on the outside of the centre back trio and Phil Bardsley as a very aggressive wingback.
Sunderland have been attacking down this side when going forward, which means Bardsley can often be caught up field. Coupled with this, Vergini is not the most positionally aware and looks like a defender still acclimatising to the Premier League.
Liverpool took advantage of this to earn the foul that brought them their first goal when Poyet used this three centre back formation at Anfield. The Reds then created a several chances down or from Sunderland’s right side in their 2-1 win.
Last Monday night, West Ham also capitalised from getting in to wide areas beyond the wingbacks, again particularly from the right side as Bardsley got caught forward.
If Poyet again continues with his three centre back formation, then we need to play with plenty of width in order to stretch them out at the back.
In this 3-4-1-2- set up, the Uruguayan has gone with Lee Cattermole and Liam Bridcutt in front of the defence in order to congest the central area and screen his back three. This will see the middle become very crowded if we play narrow, so the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Sunderland need to focus on playing with as much width as possible.
Sunderland set pieces
One thing Sunderland have been and where they continue to be dangerous are at set pieces.
Gus Poyet obviously works hard on these on the training ground, as they spread the six-yard box extremely well. This gives them good coverage across this zone in order to win the first or second ball and gain control of any rebounds.
Earlier on in the season, Poyet was using five players to do this job with two at the near post, one in the middle and two at the far.
This is very reminiscent of the system used by Sam Allardyce at West Ham. However, since moving to a three centre back system, Poyet has additional height on the field to use at set pieces.
Now he uses six players across the six-yard box at corners and wide free kicks, having two at the near post, two in the middle and two at the far.
This was extremely potent against Liverpool, as Ki Sung-Yueng nodded home an Adam Johnson corner.
John O’Shea also had a late chance with a header that he put wide after failing to twist in the air and get enough contact on the ball.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Sunderland here will need to be aware of the Black Cats crowding the six-yard box at set pieces.
Spurs vs Sunderland overall
This match will be dictated by how aggressive Gus Poyet is going to be.
Recently he has moved to three centre backs with two destroyers in front of them in Bridcutt and Cattermole. This has seen them become very defensive and while stifling opponents for a while, they have had very little attacking impetus with this line-up after conceding.
The last two games that Gus Poyet has used this formation has only seen Sunderland look threatening after the introduction of Adam Johnson. With the Black Cats in desperate need of the points, Poyet may return to a back four and include the England man from the off.
A lot will be revealed in the team sheets here. A back three and Sunderland will be looking to cross through Phil Bardsley and Marcos Alonso. A back four and they will be looking to get Adam Johnson and most notably Fabio Borini in with through balls.
The Tottenham team news that we have Emmanuel Adebayor back available is good as he is excellent on crosses. We will need to stretch Sunderland’s back three if they indeed do play in this formation. Even if they switch to a back four, they are susceptible to teams that get in-behind in the full back zones.
Spurs vs Sunderland prediction: Spurs 2 Sunderland 1.