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Villas-Boas Time: Sunderland vs Tottenham Preview

A thrilling game at the Stadium of Light saw Sunderland eventually succumb to a 3-4 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. A fine strike from Jozy Altidore, as well as goals from captain John O’Shea and Phil Bardsley, who also scored an own goal, saw Gus Poyet’s side push Chelsea all the way before coming up slightly short. Sunderland fans will have taken heart from what was a much-improved performance though ahead of Tottenham’s visit this weekend.

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A thrilling game at the Stadium of Light saw Sunderland eventually succumb to a 3-4 defeat at the hands of Chelsea. A fine strike from Jozy Altidore, as well as goals from captain John O’Shea and Phil Bardsley, who also scored an own goal, saw Gus Poyet’s side push Chelsea all the way before coming up slightly short. Sunderland fans will have taken heart from what was a much-improved performance though ahead of Tottenham’s visit this weekend.

Jozy Altidore’s goal on Wednesday was a demonstration of the clinical finishing the American can display when he’s on his best form. He’ll be hoping that strike propels him forward for the rest of the season and he continues to improve upon his already solid statistics. He’s had 9 attempts on goal this season, and has the overall best shot accuracy rate of any Sunderland player (55.5%). Altidore is 31/10 to score at any time this weekend with 888sport.com.

Sebastian Larsson may be more noted for his abilities with the ball at his feet, but the Swede has shown great appetite for the defensive side of his game so far this season. He’s attempted more tackles than any other Sunderland player this season, with 41 to his name according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, and a success rate of 63.4%.

Defender Phil Bardsley had an up and down game during midweek but his performances at the back have generally been highly consistent when he’s had the chance to play this season. He’s made a defensive contribution (tackle, block, clearance, interception) on average once every 10.4 minutes he’s been on the pitch so far this campaign.

Emanuele Giaccherini has surpassed Adam Johnson as the Black Cats most prolific dribbler this term with 15 to his name, just one ahead of his midfield colleague.

A fine strike from Lewis Holtby took the pressure off Andre Villas-Boas as Tottenham claimed all three points with a 1-2 win over London rivals Fulham in midweek. AVB will be hoping his side can capitalise on this momentum this weekend.

Holtby has found his chances to impress somewhat limited this season given the raft of new arrival at White Hart Lane. However when he has been on the pitch he’s clearly determined to get involved. He’s compiled 164 passes in the opponent’s half this season, giving him the lowest average rate in the Tottenham squad with one completed every 2.18 minutes he’s been on the park. Holtby is 19/4 with 888sport.com to get himself on the scoresheet again this weekend.

Given his fine form so far this season it’s unsurprising that Andros Townsend continues to lead the way in Spurs squad for total attacking contributions (assists, dribbles, crosses, shots on goal) with 93.

Although Paulinho has brought an extra dimension to the Tottenham midfield, one area in which he yet to fully find his feet is his work in the final third. With Roberto Soldado also enjoying a relatively slow start to his White Hart Lane career, Tottenham fans will be hoping the Brazilian and his other midfield colleagues start to help him more by working on-targets attempts on goal with more regularity. So far Paulinho ranks second on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for total off-target attempts on goal with 19, meaning only 42.4% of his total shots have worked the ‘keeper this season.

Roberto Soldado has endured a mixed start to life at White Hart Lane, with his stats showing that his movement and positioning is not letting him down, just his final shot. He’s had a solid 24 attempts on goal this season, but so far only 45.8% of them have worked the goalkeeper.

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