Sunderland take on Tottenham Hotspur at the Stadium of Light in the Barclays Premier League. Spurs claimed a narrow 1-0 win when the teams last met.
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Sky Sports 1 HD
|Sky Sports 1 HD|
Can Gus Poyet get one over his old club or can Spurs end a run of four top flight games without a win?
A draw at home to Manchester United may have done something to quell his critics for now, but Andre Villas Boas knows that the result away at Sunderland will say just as much about his team's chances of finishing in the top four as how they performed against the reigning champions.
Just four goals from six games on the road does not bode well. Nor does the fact that the last away match in the league ended with a 6-0 defeat at Manchester City. However, our resident stats guru (and Sky Sports commentator), Martin Tyler, has some words of comfort for Spurs.
"We have seen a team lose by SEVEN goals in the past and still secure a Champions League spot. That team was Everton, who lost 7-0 to Arsenal in the 2004/05 season and still finished fourth to secure a place in the Champions League preliminary round. And that heavy loss came in the penultimate game of the season.
"Two other sides have lost by six goals and finished in the top four of the Premier League. Arsenal lost 8-2 at Old Trafford in 2011/12 and finished third at the end of the season, while Norwich City lost 7-1 to Blackburn in the very first Premier League season and still finished third in the table. So there is some hope for Tottenham fans!
"Opta have also given us four examples of teams losing by five goals and still finishing in the top four at the end of the campaign: Arsenal lost 6-1 to Manchester United in 2000/01 and ended up in second place; Manchester United lost 6-1 to Manchester City in 2011/12 and finished second; Newcastle lost 5-0 to Manchester United in 1996/97 and ended up second; and Manchester United lost 5-0 to Chelsea in 1999/00 and ended up as champions!"
So a huge defeat doesn't necessarily derail a season. But the other factor that Spurs need to consider is Sunderland's improved form the Stadium of Light since Tottenham old boy Gus Poyet took over.
The stats show three games and three wins. Should that unbeaten run be extended against Chelsea on Wednesday then it be will a tough call to decide which team starts this match as favourites.