There will be a great deal of anxiety at the Stadium of Light on Sunday as slow starting duo Sunderland and Tottenham both target their first Premier League win of the season.
Being without a victory after four games of a new term is a situation that the hosts are becoming increasingly used to, and they will be wary of the possibility of this latest sluggish opening sequence leading to another tooth and nail battle to avoid relegation. There is at least more of a goal threat this time around, with the Black Cats having found a clinical edge by scoring six goals despite having relatively few chances in their outings so far.
Questions have been asked about a perceived lack of significant investment from owner Ellis Short, but two of his new recruits responded to such scepticism by scoring to earn a point at Aston Villa before the international break. Second best for the majority of the encounter in the West Midlands, Yann M’Vila – once reportedly coveted by Arsenal – was able to show off his free-kick taking ability and Jeremain Lens was on hand to snatch a point in the second half. Tighten up defensively and the wins will not be long in coming.
Tottenham are not the most confidence inspiring club in the Premier League at present having only managed to draw their last three matches in response to losing at Manchester United on opening day. Twice leads have been squandered, while their failure to see off Everton in their most recent outing was down to a succession of missed chances, many of which were very presentable. It has been a frustrating period for manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is keen to go one step better than in 2014-15.
The final days of the transfer window were not too kind either, as prime targets Saido Berahino and Victor Wanyama were prevented by their respective clubs from making a move to North London. On the other hand, it was a boost for Spurs to see Harry Kane hit form for England by scoring in both of their recent Euro 2016 qualifiers. The crowd favourite has come under a little pressure in recent weeks after failing to find the net in the league in August, but will relish the chance now against a leaky backline.
Sunderland forked out £10m to bring Fabio Borini to the club on a permanent basis and he is likely to make his second debut for the club, but Jordi Gomez and Adam Johnson are out due to a lack of match fitness.
Son Heung-min may make his first appearance for Tottenham, who remain without the services of midfielder Christian Eriksen. Fellow midfielder Mousa Dembele limped off against Everton and also misses out.
Last Meeting: On this very weekend last season, Tottenham made their most recent visit to Wearside and came away hugely frustrated to have only come away with a point from an entertaining 2-2 draw. Harry Kane hardly did anything wrong last season, but his own goal gifted Sunderland a share of the spoils after a Christian Eriksen strike looked to have been enough to settle it. In the early stages, a Nacer Chadli goal had been cancelled out by Adam Johnson.
Played for both – Teemu Tainio: The Finland international midfielder moved to Tottenham in 2005 and was part of the side that came so close to qualifying for the Champions League, scoring three goals in 61 top-flight outings before moving to Sunderland alongside three of his teammates in 2008. His stay up north was not as successful, as he made just 21 league appearances in which he failed to score.