Sunderland 0 - 0 TottenhamKO: Sat Apr 07 12:45:00 BST 2012 Ground: Stadium of Light
Referee: C Foy live on sky sports Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 2 HD
Sunderland Manager Martin O'Neill Ready Tottenham Test
Sunderland boss eager to build on display against Man City
Martin O'Neill knows Sunderland will have to be at their best when they welcome UEFA Champions League-chasing Tottenham to the Stadium of Light.
Spurs recovered from a five-game winless run to defeat Swansea last time out and move level on points with Arsenal, narrowly behind their north London rivals on goal difference to lie in fourth place.
O'Neill's men upset the formbook in their last fixture, drawing 3-3 with title hopefuls Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, the first time this season that Roberto Mancini's men have failed to win in front of their own fans in the Premier League.
The Black Cats boss knows Harry Redknapp's men will provide another stern test, with the White Hart Lane outfit having been among the leading clubs throughout this season.
"They're a really fine side with really good players," O'Neill said. "I'm not surprised they've been challenging all year.
"I think they lost a couple of games this season but they've had a fantastic run and it's been a great season.
"I thought their efforts last season in the Champions League were terrific and if that doesn't give them the incentive to want to go again then nothing will.
"They were excellent against Swansea and they will prove a difficult task here for us."
Last week's draw with Manchester City has left the Black Cats full of confidence, according to O'Neill.
Sunderland were later charged by the Football Association with failing to control their players during the game following an incident when referee Phil Dowd awarded a penalty in the 43rd minute.
O'Neill was remaining tight-lipped about the charge, although he did admit the club would be "sending a response very shortly".
However, he admitted his side's belief is sky high in the wake of the match and, believes their performances are much improved from when they met Tottenham in his second game in charge in December.
"Particularly after the performance against Manchester City, we've got to approach this game full of confidence," O'Neill said.
"I think we're a better side now. Certainly we've got a bit more confidence about ourselves.
"Tottenham have been excellent all season. People talk about a bit of a blip or something like that but they certainly recovered against Swansea.
"I don't remember them going through a bad period in terms of performances but like everything else, sometimes you need the results to go along with it.
"It's been a great season from their viewpoint but for ourselves, it's a matter of trying to continue where we left off from Manchester City."Tottenham have been excellent all season. People talk about a bit of a blip or something like that but they certainly recovered against Swansea.Martin O'Neill
Premier League: Sunderland 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham were able to move back into third place but the uninspiring draw left plenty of room for improvement.
Spurs bossed possession at the Stadium of Light, but they were unable to break down a stubborn Black Cats outfit that was happy to sit deep and play counter-attacking football.
Emmanuel Adebayor saw a penalty shout waved away during a hard-fought first half, as his header struck Phil Bardsley on the arm, but neither keeper was overly troubled during an opening 45 minutes that brought plenty of graft but little guile.
Things failed to improve after the interval, with Spurs found to be lacking in ideas and Sunderland happy to stand firm and pick up another point.
Although a point was enough to nudge Spurs ahead of North London rivals Arsenal, Harry Redknapp's hunger for a win was obvious in his late introductions of Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe.
Adebayor, Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart all came close for the visitors who started well but faded as Martin O'Neill's resolute Sunderland held firm.
In a game of few clear-cut chances, the best opportunities for Sunderland fell to Stephane Sessegnon and Nicklas Bendtner, but there was precious little to threaten either of the two goalkeepers.
Given the attacking riches on show that came as something of a surprise, and goals certainly seemed to be in the offing in the early stages which the visitors largely dominated.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto saw his fierce low drive deflected wide, then Adebayor nudged a Van der Vaart cross goalwards but it was deflected past the post by Bardsley.
Sunderland had little to show for their efforts until a 33rd-minute mistake by Sandro threatened to gift Sessegnon a run on goal, but the midfielder responded with a fine saving challenge.
As Spurs' early pressure gradually subsided, the hosts had a loud penalty appeal for a handball against Scott Parker turned down by referee Chris Foy.
Bendtner almost turned in a Bardsley drive but was well smothered by Brad Friedel, and moments later Craig Gardner's header from a Bardsley cross was easily held by the keeper.
William Gallas stumbled attempting to clear a James McClean cross in the 39th minute and, with the Black Cats continuing to press, McClean headed over from a Sebastian Larsson cross.
Van der Vaart struck a goal-bound effort in the last minute which was blocked by Matthew Kilgallon as the two sides ended a sporadically entertaining first half on level terms.
O'Neill's men almost made a dramatic start to the second half, McClean finding Sessegnon in the box and the striker's low shot striking the legs of Gallas.
The impressive Jack Colback, playing in an unfamiliar full-back role, denied Adebayor a close-range chance in the 52nd minute when he blocked a ball into the box by Modric.
Adebayor was caught narrowly offside as he attempted to scissor-kick home a lofted ball from Van der Vaart, then Bale headed onto the roof of the net from a cross by Assou-Ekotto.
Sunderland fashioned a fine chance on the hour when Larsson's low cross from the right looked set to give McClean the simplest of tap-ins before Kyle Walker made a crucial interception.
Van der Vaart cut a furious figure in the Sunderland box in the 73rd minute when his shot was blocked by Michael Turner, with the Dutchman almost alone in claiming a handball.
Walker's foul on McClean gave Sunderland a dangerous free-kick on the left in the 85th minute, but Larsson's set-piece was powerfully headed away by Younes Kaboul.
Bale's last-minute charge goalwards was blocked abruptly by a superb challenge by Gardner, following which the Welshman hobbled gingerly to the sidelines.
Man of the match: Craig Gardner. Helped to keep Tottenham at arm's length and put in a brilliant last-ditch challenge on Gareth Bale late in the game.
Effort of the match: In a game of few opportunities, a speculative strike from Benoit Assou-Ekotto came close to catching Simon Mignolet off guard.
Moment of the match: Kyle Walker did really well to deny James McClean a tap in as Sunderland looked to snatch a dramatic winner.
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