Sunderland v Tottenham: Three key battles that will decide today’s Premier League clash

Younes Kaboul in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa
Younes Kaboul in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa
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Sunderland go into today’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur looking for their first league win of the season.

The Black Cats have been boosted by the permanent signing of Fabio Borini and loan capture of DeAndre Yedlin (ineligible to play against his parent club) since the draw with Aston Villa.

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane

But can Sunderland secure their first three-point haul of 2015-16?

These are the key battles they are going to have to win, if Dick Advocaat & Co are to be celebrating later this afternoon.

Younes Kaboul v Harry Kane:

England and Spurs star Harry Kane enjoyed a fine debut season in the top flight but he has yet to reach those heights second time around.

Fabio Borini in action

Fabio Borini in action

Is it a case of second season syndrome? Far too early to judge.

Despite not scoring in the league so far this season, Kane has bagged two goals while away on international duty in the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

So, can the Sunderland defence and ex-Spurs centre-back Younes Kaboul stop him?

The 29-year-old centre back signed from Spurs in the summer and has the advantage of knowing Kane’s game intimately.

Jack Rodwell in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa

Jack Rodwell in action for Sunderland against Aston Villa

Kaboul will have to be on the top of his game if the Black Cats are to triumph.

Fabio Borini v Jan Vertonghen:

Will he? Won’t he? In his pre-match press conference, Dick Advocaat was being coy over whether Sunderland’s new signing Fabio Borini would make his second debut for the club against Spurs.

The striker hasn’t seen much action in recent months and could be restricted to a role from the bench.

But that would come as a big surprise.

Surely Borini has to start? If he does then the man likely to be tasked with keeping him quiet is Jan Vertonghen.

This will be a key battle at the Stadium of Light.

Jack Rodwell v Ryan Mason

When the two sides played each other last season, midfield duo Christian Eriksen and Moussa Dembele ran the show for Spurs.

But neither will play this afternoon.

Great news for Advocaat. The mantle of running the Spurs midfield is likely to rest on the shoulders of England midfielder Ryan Mason.

The confident midfielder believes Spurs’ results will soon match the performances.

He is likely to be facing Jack Rodwell, who Advocaat has called on to show more of his “nasty” side.

An intriguing battle awaits.