Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sunderland: Premier League Live Score, Highlights, Recap

Thomas CooperFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2013

Tottenham Hotspur's Premier League season comes down to this.

Beat Sunderland and, with a little good luck elsewhere, they will finish in fourth place and enter the qualifying stage of the 2013-14 Champions League.

The specter of Arsenal's game versus Newcastle United will be hanging over White Hart Lane on Sunday. Just like last year, a win on the road for the Gunners will see them finish above their North London rivals.

On that occasion, Spurs won their final match against Fulham, but they still lost out on third place after Arsenal comfortably dispatched West Bromwich Albion. With Chelsea winning the Champions League a week later, the Blues took Spurs' place in the competition for the following year.

The situation is not much simpler this season. With both Sunderland and Newcastle United safe from relegation, they might not be fighting for their lives, but they may be battling to avoid accusations of not trying.

Spurs know what they have to focus on, and their manager, Andre Villas-Boas, is certainly saying the right things.

“We have to win and it’s not that straight forward," he told his club's official website. "The ingredients of the game are dangerous. We have to be aware. We have to focus on our task."

It is impossible to know which version of Paolo Di Canio's suitably unpredictable Sunderland side will turn up. Spurs cannot rely on it being the lazy Black Cats, and they will have to work hard to avoid Sunday becoming a needlessly tense affair.

Aiding those attempts should be an almost fully fit squad for Villas-Boas to choose from. Benoit Assou-Ekotto is fit again after missing the Stoke City win with a knee injury. Only long-term absentees Sandro, Younes Kaboul and William Gallas are unavailable.

Sunderland will have to make do without the ineligible Danny Rose, who, as of last Monday, has returned to his parent club. Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon are also unavailable because of suspension, though Connor Wickham is available.

Tottenham came away from the Stadium of Light with all three points when they beat 2-1 Sunderland in both club's final game of 2012. Aaron Lennon scored a second-half winner shortly after a Carlos Cuellar own goal put Spurs level following John O'Shea's opener.

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