Tottenham Hotspur-Sunderland Preview

The Associated Press

Andre Villas-Boas feels Tottenham Hotspur's luck has changed.

Capitalising on a meeting with the club at the bottom of the Premier League may only reinforce the manager's belief.

Tottenham may have a chance at gaining a share of a spot in the top four on Sunday, when they attempt to extend their unbeaten streak against Sunderland to seven on the trot.

Spurs (7-3-4) suffered a 6-0 demolition job at the hands of Manchester City on Nov. 24, as part of a woeful 0-2-2 stretch that seemed to put Villas-Boas' job in jeopardy.

Those struggles seemed likely to continue on Wednesday, when they gave up the opening goal to Fulham before rallying through Vlad Chiriches and Lewis Holtby to emerge as 2-1 winners for a first league win since October.

Villas-Boas championed the effort, which included five saves by Hugo Lloris.

"We conceded the goal in the second half when we least expected, when we were looking more organised in our shape and we really needed to dig deep to find the strength to come back," Villas-Boas told the team's official website. "We've been a bit unlucky of late, this time we were a little more fortunate.

"It was very important for the team to get a win back in the Premier League - it almost completes our bouncing back from the City defeat."

Another win could put Tottenham in a tie for the final Champions League spot, as they sit three points behind Liverpool and Everton. Liverpool host West Ham earlier on Saturday, while the Toffees visit Arsenal on Sunday. Spurs host Liverpool next weekend.

Before that, they'll try to continue their dominance of Sunderland (2-2-10). The Lilywhites are 4-2-0 over their past six matches with the Black Cats, going 2-1-0 at the Stadium of Light since a 3-1 defeat there on April 3, 2010.

It's unclear if Villas-Boas will have Roberto Soldado back in the line-up after leaving him on the bench at Fulham. The Spanish forward isn't living up to the lofty expectations stemming from his 26 million pound transfer from Valencia over the summer. Soldado leads Spurs with four league goals, but he hasn't scored in four straight matches, while only two of his nine shots have ended up on target.

If Soldado is on the bench again, that is likely to mean that Jermain Defoe starts in his place. However, he came up empty on four shots against Fulham as he continued to search for his first Premier League goal of the season.

Facing Sunderland could be just what Soldado and Defoe need to start finding the goal with some regularity. The Black Cats have allowed 28 goals to tie Norwich City for the most in the Premier League.

Manager Gus Poyet, though, is feeling better after Sunderland's latest effort, despite falling 4-3 to Chelsea on Wednesday.

"We competed to the best of our ability against an exceptional team - they had players that are a different level and it was difficult for us to cope," Poyet told the team's official website. "I would like to think that, if we play like (that) and we fight like (that) and we do it in the way we did, we should be OK by the end of the season.

"Can we do this every week? Can we have that spirit every week? It doesn't matter against who, it's up to you, yourself, as a player representing the football club."

Poyet's comments may strike a chord with Jozy Altidore. The American forward scored his first league goal of the season Wednesday after being left on the bench during last weekend's scoreless draw with Aston Villa.

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