Tottenham’s Lewis Holtby is optimistic for Sunderland clash despite restlessness at Spurs

Lewis Holtby. Tony Marshall/PA Wire
Lewis Holtby. Tony Marshall/PA Wire
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TOTTENHAM midfielder Lewis Holtby is convinced his side can still make an impression at the top of the Barclays Premier League table despite the restlessness over Andre Villas Boas’ White Hart Lane reign.

Holtby’s winner against Fulham on Wednesday night eased the pressure on the Spurs boss and left them just three points off the top four as they prepare to head to bottom club Sunderland on Saturday.

Holtby said: “Now we need another three points from the Sunderland game. There are games every three days in December, so we have to be up for it every time.

“Last season we did really well during this time and got ourselves to the top of the table. There is the possibility of picking up a lot of points.”

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet hopes his side will recover after their heroic effort against Chelsea on Wednesday night came to nothing in a 4-3 defeat.

Poyet said: “The players gave everything but we don’t have another team to go and play on Saturday, so we need to recover well and I need to pick the right team to beat Tottenham.”

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew believes his side might not get a better chance to break a 41-year-old hoodoo against Manchester United when they head to Old Trafford.

The Magpies have not won at Old Trafford since February 1972 but Pardew is hoping the increased pressure on David Moyes’ men following their midweek defeat to Everton might play into his hands.

Pardew’s men are themselves looking to bounce back from a heavy Wednesday night loss at Swansea, but Pardew said: “There’s going to be a little bit of pressure on them and we have got to try to capitalise on that and make it difficult for them.”

Pardew hopes to have Hatem Ben Arfa back available after missing the defeat in Wales due to illness, but Papiss Cisse faces a late test on a heel injury.

Crystal Palace aim to continue their upward surge against Cardiff after their midweek win over West Ham took their recent run to seven points from a possible 12 under new boss Tony Pulis.

Meanwhile, under-pressure Hammers boss Sam Allardyce heads to Anfield boosted by the news that striker Andy Carroll is nearing a first-team recall after returning to training following treatment on a double foot fracture.

Carroll told his club’s official website: “It’s been really hard watching the team while I’ve been out. We haven’t picked up the results we have deserved, so I can’t wait to get out there again and start helping the team to win some games.”

Southampton take on Manchester City at St Mary’s Stadium on the back of three consecutive defeats and with increasing personnel problems after losing both Victor Wanyama and Nathaniel Clyne to injury in the midweek defeat to Aston Villa.

Stoke take on Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium with boss Mark Hughes desperate to add reinforcements up front after a season which has yielded just 12 goals in 14 Barclays Premier League games so far.

Hughes said: “It’s an area we know we’re a little bit short in and we need to try to improve that aspect of our play. We’ll try to look at that in January but it’s not easy.”

West Brom boss Steve Clarke will bring back midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu but has lost Jonas Olsson to suspension as the Baggies aim for their first win in four against Norwich at The Hawthorns.

Canaries boss Chris Hughton is still without £8million striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel as well as Alexander Tettey, Robert Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington as his side look to bounce back from their midweek mauling at Liverpool.

In Sunday action, Rene Meulensteen seeks to stem Fulham’s dismal run of six straight losses as they face Aston Villa at Craven Cottage, while Roberto Martinez takes his buoyant Everton side to leaders Arsenal in the hunt for another top-level scalp.