Echo Jury: Richard Smith looks ahead to Sunderland’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur

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AFTER the last-minute drama last Sunday, I sadly feel it will be back down to earth with a bang on Sunday as we visit a Spurs side that have only lost one of their last 12 games in the Premier League.

The much-needed win last week should have lifted the mood at the AoL this week and the team’s confidence will have grown but a massive improvement is going to be needed if we are to get anything from this game.

I don’t expect to see many changes from the team that started against Blackburn. Despite his brilliant cameo, I think McClean will start on the bench again with O’Neill looking to exploit his pace later in the game if we are still in it.

The only change I could see would be Bendtner returning if he is fit in place of Wickham who, despite working hard, looked far short of match fitness.

Seb Larsson will once again be vital for us, not just as an attacking threat but defensively he needs to make sure he is available to help double team Gareth Bale who will be Spurs’ main threat. Another option would be to utilise Richardson’s pace and move him out onto the right with Larsson to the left, a move that worked against Chelsea away last season.

I’d love to think we could get anything out of the game and hopefully the O’Neill factor will help, but I just can’t see it.

Prediction: Spurs 2 Sunderland 1.

To read the rest of the Echo Jury, please see tonight’s Sunderland Echo.