Sunderland are a different force to last meeting with Spurs – O’Neill

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
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SUNDERLAND won praise from Spurs manager Harry Redknapp when the two teams met at White Hart Lane in December.

But Martin O’Neill says Sunderland are a better team now and hopes to have his opposite number reaching for even greater superlatives to describe the Black Cats’ performance tomorrow.

Recalling the 1-0 defeat in London, he said: “I think Harry Redknapp said after that game – I don’t know whether he was just being nice – that we caused them as many problems as any other team in recent times at White Hart Lane.

“At the time, we were just trying to find our feet after getting a bit of confidence from beating Blackburn.

“But I think we will be better equipped to take on Tottenham now.

“At that stage, James McClean was unknown and I was trying to find people’s best positions on the field, so we still had an awful lot on our plate.

“We were beaten 1-0, but, in fairness to Tottenham, they had a couple of other chances and certainly, when we were trying to attack, they could have put the game beyond us.

“At 1-0, though, we were still in with a chance and we kept on going and that’s probably what Harry meant.

“Hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves tomorrow and really test them, in the way that we really tested Manchester City last weekend and perhaps could count ourselves unlucky not to get all three points.” O’Neill knows though that tomorrow’s task at the Stadium of Light (12.45pm kick-off) is likely to be just as difficult for Sunderland as the game was against City at the Etihad.

“Spurs are a very, very fine team, a very strong squad and we know it will be tough,” he said. “Having watched Spurs against Swansea last weekend, it looks as though they’re back to their best again.

“I heard someone saying a few weeks ago that most teams suffer a little loss of form during the course of the campaign, but I don’t really know when Spurs have particularly done that.

“I think they lost their first two games of the season, roared back after and have never really been out of Champions League contention ever since and even at one stage they were talking about possibly challenging for the title.

“I think they do have a squad to genuinely challenge for the title, but then they had a blip – rather than a loss of form.

“I’m not sure why that was, I think you’ll have to ask the Spurs players about that.

“All I can say is that having watched the game against Swansea and they showed the sort of form which had people talking about them challenging for the title.

“They looked up for the last charge and we know we’ll have our work cut out for us.

“It’s a home game though, a game to savour, and we’re looking forward to it.”