COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Sunday 29th December 2013
VENUE White Hart Lane






With Boxing Day's 1-5 defeat at Newcastle United fresh in their mind, the Stoke team will be looking to get back on track when they come to White Hart Lane.

The side will be much reduced, with Glen Whelan and Marc Wilson being sent off at St. James' Park and Amir Begovic on the long term injury list with a broken finger, Robert Huth's knee injury and Matthew Etherington's bad back ruling them out.

Under Mark Hughes, the media were under the impression that the Stoke style had changed, but the latest match may have laid that rumour to rest. There are still the core of Pulis' team there … Shawcross, Charlie Adams, Steven Nzonzi, Peter Crouch, Jonathan Walters, Kenwyne Jones and Jermaine Pennant.

The side might not be as route one as previously, but there are still the players in place to go long if required and they have used that tactic this season. The long throws might have gone, but the set-piece situations are still being used to try to put the opposition defences under pressure. With Hugo Lloris looking uncomfortable with crosses and high balls in the area, you can bet Stoke will bombard Spurs with such service. Lacking our regular centre-halves, it might cause additional problems with the height of Crouch in the mix.

The Potters back four might be struggling, with Amir Begovic, Marc Wilson and Robert Huth all missing, meaning that new combinations at the back might lead to some misunderstanding. With Soldado looking to break through, he might not have played against anything like this defence before. But he did have 38 minutes of action against them in the Europa League two seasons ago, when he made two subs appearances. Other Spurs players will be more aware of the necessities of playing against Stoke and if Sherwood is as prepared as he says he is, he will make sure newcomers will be up to the challenge.

After the drubbing they got at Newcastle, young England keeper Jack Butland might be given the chance to start, but his form away on loan had not been great and the highs he hit when he first came onto the scene have been diminishing.  Hughes will probably start with Thomas Sorensen in goal and the veteran will need to be on top form if Tottenham can keep hitting the target.  Whoever plays, you can bet they will end up man of the match.  The keeper will find a reshuffled defence of Shawcross, Erik Pieters, Geoff Cameron and Andy Wilkinson in front of him.  The manager will probably go with Wilkinson, as Spurs are missing their pacy wingers, so he might stick with the tried and tested English option. 

The midfield of Walters, Adam and Nzonzi will have former Spur Wilson Palacios replacing the suspended Whelan, adding a defensive element to that area of the team to break up the attacks.  Other variations could include playing Jermaine Pennant as a wide man, Stephen Ireland as a busy midfielder with an eye for getting forward or Spaniard Marc Muniesa as a hard-working midfielder to bolster the numbers in the middle of the pitch. 

Up top Ousamma Assaidi, on loan from Liverpool, has been hitting the net in the last couple of weeks.  A player who runs at defenders and has the ability to score with power or placement, he is powerful on the floor and will need to be stopped before he gets within shooting range.   Another one of their strikers is well known to us, as Peter Crouch adds a towering presence in the front line and Hughes will start with him, hoping to get him to put in a starring performance against his old side.  Austrian Marko Arnoutavic is another option and is in the Crouch mould, but with a bit more attitude and a bit more skill on the ball.   Either him or Crouch will need Dawson to battle in the air with them, as this is a tactic that Stoke will employ to shake up our back four.  Kenwyne Jones is usually a sub, but might make way for a more defensive option on the bench.

Despite sitting two places below Spurs in the table, Stoke are ten points adrift and will be aiming to close that gap.  Ironically, with rumours of Internazionale and Atletico Madrid wanting to take Erik Lamela on loan, this might be a game to start him in.  Stoke had their numbers reduced, but were troubled by players running at them, most notable Hatem Ben Arfa, a left footed right winger.  It could be that the Argentinian's chance to shine could be here if Sherwood is brave enough to pitch him in against Stoke's defence.

There is always a narrow margin between the two sides when Stoke come to the Lane.  Partly as there is often a lack of ambition on the visitors side, but also because Spurs struggle to break them down.  Both teams will be missing a number of regulars, so that could add to the disjointedness of the match, but, ever hopeful, I think Spurs will just edge it to stay in and around the top end of the table.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Stoke City    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Tottenham hope to have Aaron Lennon (stomach) available for the game with Stoke City and Paulinho returns after serving a three game suspension.  Jermain Defoe's hamstring pull is making him doubtful for the match, along with Mousa Dembele's ankle injury.  Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Younes Kaboul (thigh), Sandro (calf) and Andros Townsend (hamstring) are all unavailable.  Kyle Walker's one match suspension rules him out of the game and Tim Sherwood might give a league debut to Ryan Fredericks.
Stoke City come to White Hart Lane without Marc Wilson and Glen Whelan, both sent off on Boxing Day, Amir Begovic (broken finger), Robert Huth (knee) and Matthew Etherinton (back).

Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.30 (highlights)  Also available online.

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Tottenham Hotspur  3 (1)                                                                             Stoke City  0 (0)
Premier League
Sunday 29th December 2013                                                                                                                   Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
Soldado (p) 37
Dembele 65
Lennon 69
Dembele  (Unsporting conduct)  52
Lamela (foul on Pieters)  88


Walters (foul on Dembele)  52
Shawcross (dissent)  52 


Crowd :   36,072 Weather :  Mild, dry
Referee :  Kevin Friend (Leicester) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Burt; Mr. S. Long
Fourth Official :  Mike Dean -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 5 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Stoke City : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

20  Michael DAWSON (c)
35  Zeki FRYERS

  7  Aaron LENNON    (11  Erik LAMELA 75     )
  8  PAULINHO  (15  Etienne CAPOOUE 62)
19  Mousa DEMBELE       
23  Christian ERIKSEN

  9  Roberto SOLDADO   
10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR  (21  Nacer CHADLI 80)

Unused subs: 
42  Nabil BENTALEB

  29  Thomas SORENSEN

28  Andy WILKINSON (  5  Marc MUNIESA 81)
20  Geoff CAMERON
  Ryan SHAWCROSS (c)     
  3  Eric PIETERS

24  Ousamma ASSAIDI
15  Steven NZONZI
8  Wilson PALACIOS (  7  Jermaine PENNANT 69)
32  Stephen IRELAND (16  Charlie ADAM 50)

19  Jonathan WALTERS     

25  Peter CROUCH

Unused subs: 
22  Jack BUTLAND
14  Jamie NESS

Manager :  Tim Sherwood Manager :  Mark Hughes
Sponsor :   Hewlett Packard Shirt sponsor :  bet365
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

For once, the many chances Spurs created brought a few goals and it was against a weak Stoke City side, who failed to produce a Stoke like performance and allowed Spurs to play the way they wanted. With 68% of the possession, it was a solid performance and a clean sheet too, with Hugo Lloris only having to make one save from a weak Crouch header.

With Soldado converting another penalty, Dembele finding the net in a way we would like him to do more often and Aaron Lennon popping up to score a well-taken third, Spurs earned a good three points and made it nine out of twelve over Christmas since Sherwood took over. But this was a better display and one which shows how the team might play in future, albeit, they will have to step up the level of performance against better teams.

From the kick off, Tottenham attacked Stoke and worked the ball going forward and winning a free-kick with Eriksen smacking it into the wall. Stoke almost caught Spurs out, as Assaidi's ball over the top for Walters saw the Irishman go down a bit too easily under challenge from Zeki Fryers and Hugo Lloris tidied up behind him. Using the wings, Fryers, Lennon and Soldado put in dangerous crosses, with Adebayor getting on the end of one move, only for his shot to be blocked. From the corner, Eriksen picked out Michael Dawson, but not his head and the captain's volley flew back in the direction it had come to go into the Stoke fans behind the corner flag.

Fifteen minutes in, Spurs should have taken the lead following a move on the right with Lennon released by Naughton's pass inside Pieters. The winger played the ball low across the six yard box and Emmanuel Adebayor, right in front of goal should really have scored, but he failed to get a touch and Christian Eriksen followed in behind him, seeing his shot kept out on the line by Sorensen. Then an extravagant flick by Paulinho put in Soldado in the box behind him, but the Spanish forward shot over the bar from the right side, under pressure from a defender.

When Adebayor broke free through the middle, he looked to release Lennon, but the ball didn't have enough weight on it and Nzonzi knocked it away. Sherwood's comment about the West Brom match being like a game of basketball looked like being true of this match too, as Assaidi broke into the Tottenham penalty area, but was robbed by a good Dawson tackle. However, the Liverpool loan striker went down wanting a penalty. This brought more chants of “Cheat” from the ever knowledgeable Stokies, which started with a throw on being given their way and Roberto Soldado playing on.
Their grievances were further exacerbated in the 36th minute, when Emmanuel Adebayor hit a scissors-kick volley at goal, which hit Ryan Shawcross at close range, but the defender stuck his hands up to protect his face and Kevin Friend pointed at the spot. From there, it was as close to a formality as you can get, as Soldado sent Sorensen the wrong way to put Spurs into the lead.

Soldado had gone close with a header on Fryers' left wing cross, with Paulinho closing in at the far post, but the ball bounced wide of the target. The midfielder was enjoying himself, bringing a bit of Brazilian sunshine to a chilly White Hart Lane, with his flicks and lifting the ball over Stoke players' heads time after time. He had a great chance to double the lead, when he won the ball and ran in on goal, but his finish was high and wide from 18 yards out.

Following Micky Hazard's emotional half-time interview, in which he proclaimed his love for the club, it was Paulinho who had the first chance of the second half, but with the same result as the last chance of the first half. Spurs were working hard and Eriksen did a lot of legwork in midfield and won the ball, swapped passes with Soldado, but then hit a poor shot straight at Sorensen from 18 yards.

Stoke brought Charlie Adam on as a substitute for the ineffectual Stephen Ireland, but the Scot was lost without Gareth Bale to kick. His only contribution to the game was a 30 yard free kick that he blasted wide. But his introduction to the game was an inspirational substitution by Mark Hughes, as from that point Tottenham went on to dominate.

Three passes created a fine opening for Soldado. Dembele received the ball, he put Lennon away and his ball in to Roberto was hit into the ground and Sorensen pushed the ball away. It was a good chance, but the ball was a little bit behind him when it came in.

While the visitors aimed to put Tottenham under pressure from high balls into the box, the defenders bossed Crouch and won a lot of headers. Lloris was coming for crosses and apart form one where he got under it, but the ball was too high for even Crouch, it didn't matter too much. He was even catching some, much to the ironic approval of some Tottenham fans.

A nice move between Dembele and Adebayor set up Eriksen for a shot, but it lacked power to beat Sorensen, but then, when Soldado gave him the ball to the right of the penalty area, Mousa took on Nzonzi and shifted the ball onto his left foot twice, before smashing a low shot to Sorensen's left as he drifted left across the edge of the box. This is exactly what Dembele should be doing and hopefully, Sherwood might be giving him free rein to do so.

Within five minutes, it was 3-0, as Ade spread play to the left, where Soldado chipped the ball back to him in the middle The striker missed controlling the ball and it went through to Aaron Lennon behind him on the edge of the box. The winger took the ball into the area and as it bounced up, he lifted a shot that went past Sorensen and dropped into the net inside the far post. Lennon's shot was well controlled and put Spurs in complete control.

After this, Spurs enjoyed loads of possession, as Stoke literally gave up and it became a bit like a training ground exercise. Even when we didn't have the ball we were dangerous. Substitute Jermaine Pennant (who was later to suffer a ball in the bread basket) played Adebayor through the middle of his own defence and he unselfishly played Spurs sub Lamela in on the right, but Sorensen and Pieters blocked his shot, while Ade was exasperated that he didn't get the ball back. It would have been a wonder pass if the Argentinian could have got it back to him.

The match continued in the same vein with Adebayor turning on the ball twenty yards out and shooting wide, while Stoke's only effort on target came with six minutes left. A cross from Pennant on the right hung for Crouch to head at goal, but although positioned in the middle of the goal, he got it down, but with little power, it dropped in front of Lloris, who only had to collect the ball as it bounced up into his midriff.

The game petered out and Spurs gave Stoke the runaround keeping hold of the ball to play out the game and maintain a clean sheet. Stoke were poor, but Tottenham put in a professional performance to get the points without too much trouble and despite the hard done by Stoke fans opinions that they were conned out of the game, to be fair, they are always like that and returned to Stoke for a nervous New Year, as their Christmas had been spoiled by eight goals against and two sending offs.

Zeki Fryers and Kyle Naughton had good games, rarely letting the Stoke wide-men get past, with Vlad and Daws doing well in the middle. The midfield moved the ball quicker and got up to support the attack, while Lennon and Eriksen did well giving protection to the full backs behind them. Both Adebayor and Soldado were moving well, pulling the Stoke defence about to make space for Paulinho to join them and Lamela did the same when he came on.

As the Sherwood revolution continues, maybe a new style will develop, but with the next two games against Manchester United and Arsenal, it may be that the open, attacking system might have to wait.

Steve Kirkwood


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
West Ham United 3 West Bromwich Albion 3 Saturday
Aston Villa 1 Swansea City 1 Saturday
Hull City 6 Fulham 0 Saturday
Norwich City 0 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Crystal Palace 0 Saturday
Cardiff City 2 Sunderland 2 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Liverpool 1 Sunday
Everton 2 Southampton 1 Sunday
Newcastle United 0 Arsenal 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 19 13 3 3 37 18 42 +19
2 Chelsea 19 13 4 3 35 19 40 +16
3 Manchester City 19 13 2 4 54 21 41 +33
4 Everton 19 10 7 2 31 18 37 +13
5 Liverpool 19 11 3 5 44 23 36 +22
6 Manchester United 19 10 4 5 32 22 34 +10
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 19 10 4 5 22 24 34 -2
8 Newcastle United 19 10 3 6 29 24 33 +5
9 Southampton 19 7 6 6 26 19 27 +7
10 Hull City 19 6 5 8 22 23 23 -1
11 Swansea City 19 5 6 8 24 25 21 -1
12 Stoke City 19 5 5 9 17 26 21 -9
13 Aston Villa 19 5 5 9 18 25 20 -7
14 Norwich City 19 5 4 10 16 32 19 -16
15 West Bromwich Albion 19 3 9 7 22 27 18 -5
16 Cardiff City 19 4 6 9 15 30 18 -15
17 Crystal Palace 19 5 1 13 12 28 16 -13
18 Fulham 19 5 1 13 19 41 16 -22
19 West Ham United 19 3 6 10 18 28 15 -10
20 Sunderland 19 3 5 11 15 32 14 -18


Position before match :  8th
Position after match :  7th
Position after the weekend :  7th


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