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Premier League

Saturday 09th April 2011

With our next two games after this meeting with Stoke City, Spurs face home matches against Real Madrid and Arsenal, this match takes on a big significance in any attempt the side intend ot make in gaining European football next season.  After playing 75 minutes with ten men against Real on Tuesday, it will be a tired Tottenham team that has to face Stoke City, who will give it their all as manager Tony Pulis demands that as a minimum from them.

From having to chase the ball for long periods on Tuesday, Tottenham will now have to face a different challenge in being chased non-stop for 90 minutes and they have to find strength to withstand Stoke's pressing play.  Having been established in the Premier League for a couple of seasons now, the Potters are playing a slightly different game to the long ball, set-piece reliant style of when they were first promoted.  That is still part of their game, but with two wingers in Etherington and Pennant, the visitors will try and get some width in their game to hit the front men with good crosses.

Much is made of their physical approach and it cannot be denied that they are committed, but that just means that they will not roll over and let you play your game, meaning you have to match the sweat and the hard yards they put in.  In the past, these are the sort of games Tottenham have found difficult, so, coupled with our scoring drought, it will be a tough ask to face up to Stoke's energetic approach, but Spurs do have the players to be able to overcome Pulis' team.

Amir Begovic keeps goal in the absence of Thomas Sorensen and the player who turned his back on Tottenham has now got a chance to show what he can do between the sticks after being the number two keeper at the Britannia stadium since he joined.  Big, strong and a good shot-stopper, he can sometimes give forwards a chance with his positioning and he can try to come for crosses he isn't going to get.  Sorensen has similar weaknesses and for a big man does not deal with high balls confidently.

Missing from the back four will be Danny Higginbotham, who is out for the season with knee damage, but the Stoke side are pretty strong in this area.  Ryan Shawcross is renowned as a tough tackler, but he is quick and likes to get forward too.  Alongside him will be Robert Huth, who will win everything in the air, so there is not a great deal of point playing the ball high into the box, unless it is whipped in with some pace that someone can get on the end of.  Former Portsmouth defender Marc Wilson has been playing well for Stoke and likes to support the front two, while former Manchester United man Danny Pugh might come in for Higginbotham and he also likes to overlap outside the midfielders.  Danny Collins and Andy Wilkinson could be called upon from the bench should they need replacement defenders.

The midfield usually is set up with Matthew Etherington wide on the left with Jermaine Pennant on the right.  Moving the ball out wide quickly to set them away in the hope of playing balls into the box for the strikers Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters to get n the end of.  They try to play with pace and after Tottenham's midweek exertions, they will have to be up to the task, while in the middle of the midfield four, Rory Delap and Dean Whitehead put in a lot of graft to win the ball and feed the wide men or strikers.  Glen Whelan can also play in the middle to get up and back, with other options including the giant Salif Diao and ball playing, but one paced Michael Tonge, who has played more games out on loan than he has for Stoke.

The strike force usually consists of Jonathan Walters and Kenwyne Jones, with Ricardo Fuller coming off the bench, but Pulis might pair Jones and Fuller to test the toughness of our back four, knowing that some are carrying injuries and some might be playing out of position, while most of them will be tired.  Jones has great aerial power, so giving away free-kicks will be inviting Stoke to do what they are good at, as Huth will join the forwards from set-pieces, but Jones is strong on the ball, as is Fuller, but the Trindadian is better with the ball at his feet, although both have power in their shooting.  Walters is a trickier beast, having been a wide player at Blackburn and Ipswich, so can take players on and also gets up well in the air for a well built player.

We haven't been great after Champions League games, so the extra taken out of the team might mean that we stumble yet again and with the run of draws we have had, the lack of goal power Spurs are suffering means we could end up with a point from the game with the score being ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    1      Stoke City    1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Younes Kaboul (out - thigh); Wilson Palacios (out - knee); William Gallas (doubtful - knee);  Ledley King (out - groin); Steven Pienaar (out - groin); Niko Kranjcar (doubtful - foot); Alan Hutton (out - knee); Vedran Corluka (doubtful - foot); Aaron Lennon (doubtful - illness); - (-); 

STOKE CITY :  -  Danny Higginbotham (out - knee); Thomas Sorensen (hopeful - back); John Carew (hopeful - back); Abdoulaye Faye (hopeful - hamstring); Mamade Sidibe (out - Achilles); - (-); - (-); 


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Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.30 - 23.50 (highlights)   [repeated at 07:40 Sunday]  Also available online.
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 2) - Sunday 22.35 - 23.35 (highlights)  Also available online.
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Radio :  
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 (live coverage)
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If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.


Tottenham Hotspur   3    Stoke City   2      (Half-time score : 3-2)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 09th April 2011
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   32,702
Referee :  Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, sunny, very warm
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
  4  Kaboul
20  Dawson (c)
32  Assou-Ekotto  (13  Bale 89)

11  van der Vaart
  6  Huddlestone      
14  Modric 
  3  Bale

  9  Pavlyuchenko

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini

19  Bassong 
30  Sandro
  8  Jenas
18  Defoe
25  Rose

Stoke City :

  1   Begovic

12   Wilson
17   Shawcross (c)
  4   Huth
28   Wilkinson      

26   Etherington      
24   Delap  (15  Diao 76)
  6   Whelan  (18  Whitehead 76)
19   Walters
16   Pennant
       (10  Fuller 76)

  9   K. Jones 

Unused subs: 
29   Sorenson

25   Faye
  5   D. Collins
14   Pugh

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Stoke City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Crouch 11
Modric 18
Crouch 34

Stoke City

Etherington 27
K. Jones 41

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Huddlestone (foul) 90+4



Stoke City

Pennant (foul)  55
Wilkinson (foul)  65
Etherington (foul)  86


Match Report : -  
For all the domination of the first half Tottenham had, they entered the half-time break just a goal ahead at 3-2 and faced an onslaught in the second half, as Stoke City pushed in vain for an equaliser, with the three points staying in London with no further score in the match.

And it was a match that Tottenham needed to win after faltering in the league and losing on Tuesday in the Champions League.  With some tired legs, it was not surprising that the first half display was full of verve, but with the heat from the blazing sun, the Spurs thrust faded and Stoke came into the game the longer it went on and their particular brand of football tested the resolve of the Tottenham defence to the limit.

Spurs started by moving the ball around confidently and Luka Modric stood on the ball as he went through and then Jermaine Pennant stuck his foot in on Bale after the ball had gone, after Wilkinson had deliberately run in Bale's path as he went to receive a return pass.  Kevin (the Stoke player's) Friend decided to take no action in either case.  A second tackle by Pennant on Bale brought a talking to and no booking.

It took five minutes for Spurs to have a shot on goal and when it came, it was the midfield duo of Huddlestone and Modric that created the chance for Bale to come inside from the left wing to a central position, from where he hit a left foot shot that Begovic had to dive down to his left to save.  Bale was a handful on the left and he left Wilkinson for dead, as he whipped a low ball into the near post and as Pav went for it, Robert Huth slid in just before him to kick it out for a corner.  However, in the 11th minute, Stoke could do nothing to stop Tottenham take the lead.

A short corner saw Pavlyuchenko cross to the far post, where Peter Crouch went some way to redeeming himself for the midweek sending off at the Bernabeu by getting above Ryan Shawcross to powerfully head into the net past Begovic.  It was a classic Crouch goal, but one scored with his head ... sometimes a rarity for the big man !!

At this stage, Stoke were struggling to get into the game, as Spurs were picking off their passes and picking up the loose balls, leaving the Potters frustrated and having to chase back for a large proportion of the time.  It took until the 18th minute before Tottenham breached the Stoke defence again and it was a well-crafted goal when it came.  Pav was again the creator with a little ball into Modric's path on the left side of the box and the little magician shifted the ball away from Huth as he came in, giving him enough time to slide the ball under Begovic and through his legs from a narrow angle for 2-0.

The bright beginning continued with Spurs working the ball wide to try to pinpoint Crouch's head or played through the mass of red and white striped shirts in the middle to see if there was a way through to the penalty area that route.  However, in the 27th minute, Spurs were undone and it was old boy Matthew Etherington who scored to get Stoke back in the game.  A high ball out of defence saw Charlie Corluka get stuck underneath it, leaving Etherington to take control of the ball on the halfway line, before he knocked it past Dawson and was involved in a foot race with Tom Huddlestone.  Having just come back from a long time out, Tom kept up with him to the penalty area, but once there, the Stoke winger got to the line and had Jones available to pull it back to, but he went alone and as Gomes dived, Etherington stuck the ball across him and into the net to make the margin 2-1.

Stoke's physicality knows no bounds and as Crouch went for a van der Vaart touch on, he went down under a shove from Huth, with the ball nowhere near and it ran through to Begovic, with Friend waving play on.  It was something he chose to do all afternoon, regardless of the severity of the offence and did not go back to book players when he did eventually stop the game.  However, it didn't worry Spurs, who continued to play their game and the expansive passing lead to the third goal.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto had the ball on the left and knocked it across the width of the pitch to Corluka on the right flank.  The Croat knocked it back on the volley to Huddlestone and the big midfielder crossed first time to the far post, where Crouch got the jump on Shawcross once more for a header that hit the back of the net in the middle of the goal.  At 3-1, it looked like Spurs would go on and score more in the game, but four minutes from half-time, Spurs were the architects of their own downfall

Playing a long spell of passes to keep possession and calm things down a little, the ball was played up to Gareth Bale on the halfway line and he had it nicked off him, with it running to Kenwyne Jones, who took the ball to the edge of the penalty box and thumped the life out of it as Gomes had no chance in stopping it flying into the top left corner of his goal. It was a cracking shot, but one which we should have avoided by keeping possession away from the other side and by playing the game in the other half.

With a total of four minutes to add on for nothing more than the time wasting Stoke had been employing, Tottenham did play the game in the right third for the rest of the half, but at 3-2, the game was on a knife edge for the coming second half.

Stoke started the better and with Tottenham getting pulled into situations where fouls were conceded and the referee was getting suckered into giving them, it piled pressure up on the back four.  Gomes punched one free-kick away and Huth was penalised for lurching into a Spurs defender, then the Tottenham keeper had to be alert when Pennant tried to beat him at his near post with a free-kick from out on the Stoke right in the 50th minute.  from the goal-kick, Tottenham went up the other end and Pavlyuchenko took the ball into the area, but could not get his shot on target, powering it into the side netting as he took it left.  Then the moment arrived, when it looked like Stoke had scored again.  Jones went past Assou-Ekotto on the Tottenham left and got to the dead-ball line, pulling it back, waist high across the goal, beating Gomes with his cross in the 53rd minute.  It left Jonathan Walters the simple task of putting the ball into an empty net from a yard out, but he had to stretch for the ball and with goal written all over it, the word post must have been on the other side of the ball, as it smacked against the upright and was kicked away.  It was an amazing miss and one which may be important at both ends of the table at the end of the season.

Ten minutes after half-time, Pennant went into the book at last, for another foul - this time on Benoit, while in front of goal, the sides exchanged missed opportunities from headers, with Pav diving to meet Bale's cross and not being able to run it enough to hit the target, while Jones got above Dawson to head Pennant's cross wide of the goal in the 58th minute.

66 minutes had gone when Rafael van der Vaart curled in a corner and Begovic grabbed it, but falling backwards fumbled the ball and Pav was on hand to smash it high into the net, only to hear Friend come to Stoke's aid by blowing his whistle to give a foul by Kaboul, who went up with the keeper.  Five minutes later, Begovic did better when Pav hit a pile-driver of a shot from 2r5 yards out and the keeper could only beat it out.

Gomes had to dive low to get behind a half-hit Pennant shot in the 73rd minute, while a long ball was headed down to Jones to crack a shot at goal from 27 yards out and the Brazilian stopper did well to get a strong palm on the ball to take it over the bar, as it looked like it might dip under it.  As expected, the triple substitution by Pulis was intended to give a late intensity to the game by piling the ball into the Tottenham box.

Time after time, it came in from open play or dead ball, with Huth insistent on trying to pull Gomes away when hew as trying to go for the ball and Gomes made sure he was getting something onto the ball ... usually a good punch.  When he didn't Peter Crouch was there to put in some important defensive clearing headers to protect the lead.  And on the other occasion Gomes didn't punch, he caught a high cross and then Friend finally blew the final whistle to hand the three points to Tottenham and to hand Stoke a worrying time, as they seek to stop their slump towards the danger zone.

It was perhaps a more substantive win than the score-line suggests, but the score does not tell lies and the way the two goals were conceded were of worry, with the defence contributing to both.  However, it was good to see Huddlestone back today, taking the ball off the back four and linking with the forwards through the midfield with his deft passing.

The partnership of Pav and Crouch, while an unlikely one, looked to have some merit and the movement with van der Vaart and Modric coming through from midfield caused Stoke problems until they tired.

While not well-received by certain sections of the crowd who thought this was a poor Tottenham performance, it was a much needed win that will hopefully spark a run like at the end of last season that took us to the Champions League.  Once more and without the breach and it might happen again !!

Mike Sorrell


Fan Reaction : -






Other scores this weekend :
Blackburn Rovers 1 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 3 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Wigan Athletic 0 Saturday
Manchester United 2 Fulham - Saturday
Sunderland 2 West Bromwich Albion 3 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Everton 3 Saturday
Aston Villa 1 Newcastle United 0 Sunday
Blackpool 1 Arsenal 3 Sunday
Liverpool 3 Manchester City 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 32 20 9 3 70 32 69 +38
2 Arsenal 31 18 8 5 62 30 62 +32
3 Chelsea 31 17 7 7 55 25 58 +30
4 Manchester City 32 16 8 8 50 30 56 +20
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 31 14 11 6 45 37 53 +8
6 Liverpool 32 14 6 13 45 38 48 +7
7 Everton 32 10 14 8 45 41 44 +4
8 Bolton Wanderers 32 11 10 11 46 43 43 +3
9 Newcastle United 32 10 9 13 48 47 39 +1
10 West Bromwich Albion 32 10 9 13 46 59 39 -13
11 Fulham 32 8 14 10 36 35 38 +1
12 Stoke City 32 11 5 16 39 42 38 -3
13 Sunderland 32 9 11 12 35 45 38 -10
14 Aston Villa 32 10 10 13 40 53 37 -13
15 Birmingham City 31 7 14 10 31 43 36 -12
16 Blackburn Rovers 32 9 8 15 40 52 35 -12
17 Blackpool 32 9 6 16 46 66 33 -20
18 West Ham United 32 7 11 14 38 56 32 -18
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 32 9 5 18 36 56 32 -20
20 Wigan Athletic 32 6 14 12 29 52 31 -23




Position before the match :
Position after the match :
Position after the weekend :


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