Stoke City (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 20th March 2010

One physical game comes after another in the hurly burly of the Premier League.  Blackburn Rovers at WHL proved a little less daunting than usual, but on their own turf at the Britannia, you can expect Stoke to be fired up with their noisy support behind them. 

With the tactic of Rory Delap's long throw becoming a major attacking threat, the press are cottoning on that the Potter have another string to their bow and that is to hit the wings or Ricardo Fuller early, with players getting up in support from midfield. It is a high energy style that needs to be matched to allow any chance of obtaining points from matches with Stoke.

There is no opportunity to switch off and any half-heartedness will be taken advantage of.  This means that the midfield, where Spurs have been hit hardest by injury, will need to put in a dynamic 90+ minute shift.

Thomas Sorensen has been playing well this season and now with Amir Begovic in reserve, his place is under threat should he fail to maintain a good record in goal.  Both keepers are solid enough in stopping shots, but their angles can be suspect and neither rules in the air in their box.  With the likelihood of Spurs fielding Crouch and Pavlyuchenko up front, there may be some scope for an aerial attack.  Additionally, with Bale bombing up the left wing, there could be an even more potent source of supply with low crosses into the box, which could add to our total of own goals this season.

The defence might see the return of Ryan Shawcross after his suspension for his involvement in the breaking of Aaron Ramsey's leg.  A strong tackler, he has vowed not to change his game and there can be no doubt that whoever plays in a Tony Pulis defence will not give any less than 100%.  Danny Higginbotham, Robert Huth, Andy Wilkinson, Danny Pugh and Danny Collins are all doughty defenders, who can join in to provide worries from set-plays.

While there is perhaps not the technical side to their game as there is to many other PL sides' play, they have a system that they work to and make it hard to break down.  This is based around the hard-working midfield, who cover a lot of turf.  Salif Diao might be out injured, but Abdoulaye Faye, Glen Whelan, Liam Lawrence, Dean Whitehead, Amdy Faye, Matthew Etherington and Rory Delap all run themselves into the ground for the cause.  The mix doesn't matter too much, as former Spur Etherington and Lawrence are the wide players, with an instruction to track back, but to get the ball into the front two when they are attacking.

With James Beattie out for the rest of the season, the line will be lead by Fuller, with Mamady Sidibe just behind him.  Both are strong on the ball and in the air, but neither is blessed with the greatest finishing ability.  Their goal ratios are influenced by the number of opportunities that come their way.  The more mobile and varied ability of striker Dave Kitson, who is a Spurs fan - but that doesn't stop him scoring against us - is not the first choice of Pulis, but he can come on to give some variety to the Stoke attack.

With Pulis teams always a difficult bunch to pit your wits against, it is possible to beat them and the belief in your own system must be utmost to push them back and frustrate their own attacking hopes.  At home, the pressure will be a bit more on them than on Spurs, so they might have to come out and play.  Still four points away from the magical 40 point mark, they may believe that this game gives them a good chance to get within a point of that total.  For Spurs, they need to win this game to keep the pack behind them in the chase for fourth place.

For Tottenham, teams like this cause a problem.  The result will hinge on how many problems we can cause Stoke in return.  I think that it might be a draw, with the score ending up ...

PREDICTION : -  Stoke City  1     Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


STOKE CITY :  -  Ryan Shawcross (doubtful - ankle); James Beattie (out - knee); Sailf Diao (out - calf); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -   Ledley King (out - thigh); Carlo Cudicini (out - hip and wrists); Jermaine Jenas (out - groin); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); Aaron Lennon (out - groin); David Bentley (out - hip); Tom Huddlestone (out - ankle); Jermain Defoe (out - hamstring); Kyle Walker (out - wrist); Danny Rose (out - knee);


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Stoke City   1   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Britannia stadium
Saturday 20th March 2010
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   27,575
Referee :  Mike Dean (Wirral)
Stoke City kicked off and played towards the South Stand end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Rainy, chilly
Teams : - 
Stoke City :

29  Sorensen

  3  Higginbotham
  4  Huth
25  Abdoulaye Faye
22  D. Collins

26  Etherington 
  6  Whelan  (
20  Tuncay 84)
18  Whitehead          
24  Delap

15  Kitson  (11  Sidibe 84)
10  Fuller     

Unused subs: 
27  Begovic
28  Wilkinson
  7  Lawrence
14  Pugh
42  Moult

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
20  Dawson (c)
19  Bassong
32  Assou-Ekotto

21  Kranjcar          (29  Livermore90+3)
14  Modric
  4  Kaboul
  3  Bale

  9  Pavlyuchenko (  9  Gudjohnsen 36  )
15  Crouch

Unused subs: 
21  Alnwick
30  Dervite
34  Parrett
12  Palacios
37  Townsend

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Stoke City

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Stoke City

Etherington (p) 64

Tottenham Hotspur

Gudjohnsen 46
Kranjcar 77
Cards : -  
Stoke City

Fuller (foul)  19
Whitehead (foul)  32 

Whitehead (second yellow - foul) 48  

Tottenham Hotspur 

Assou-Ekotto (foul)  63
Kranjcar (persistent fouling)  87   


Match Report : -  
In a match that featured a dull first half, you could hardly have guessed what was to come after the break, with a quick goal, a sending off, a penalty and a winning goal leaving Spurs triumphant 2-1 winners over the remaining ten men of the Stokies.

With injuries in all parts of the squad, Harry Redknapp deployed Younes Kaboul as the destructive midfielder, chosen ahead of Palacios.  In attack, the two first picks of Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko lined up at the kick off, with Crouch's height no doubt in Harry's mind to help out the defence at City's set-pieces.  And it was a combination of Gomes, Bassong, Dawson and Crouch's defending that stopped Rory Delap's flat long-throws causing the problems they usually do.  One of the keeper's charges to clear was reminiscent of last season, as he collided with Corluka, low down this time and no stretcher was required for the Croatian, as he just bumped into his goalie.

As early as inside the first minute the Irish midfielder was at it, slinging in a long throw that Dawson was there to head away.  Not all the clearances were as effective as others, with Gomes having to come through a crowd of players to punch and some of the headed clearances not going too far, but there were no direct threats from either the throws of corners that Stoke had.  It is a shame the referee did not defend Gareth Bale a bit more in the first half, when the home team's player seemed intent on putting him out of the game with three or four heavy tackles on him; some of which were punished with free-kicks, but not with cards.  In the home league match, the Stoke winner came after they had removed Aaron Lennon from the game and maybe the wing play of the Welshman was too much of a threat to allow to go un-hindered.  Fuller did get booked for a crude hack at Bale as he ran away from him, with Whitehead picking up a yellow later for a similarly rash challenge on Modric in midfield.

It took 18 minutes for a Spurs shot in anger to reach the Stoke goal, when Pav laid the ball into Nike Kranjcar's path to hit a low shot that Sorensen got behind but could not hold.  Although Crouch was homing in on the loose ball, the Danish keeper got up to grab it first.  Halfway through the first half, there was a chance at the other end, when Gomes fisted a corner away, but not far, with Whelan helping the ball back into the area, where Kitson flicked it on and Abdoulaye Faye reacted to get his head to it and if it had been on target, Heurelho might have been troubled.  Luckily, the ball flew wide off the midfielder's head.  Ten minutes from half-time the Brazilian keeper had to dive across his goal to palm out a Kitson header, but it looked a s though it was going wide.

Roman had been holding the back of his thigh for a little while and in the 36th minute was replaced by Eidur Gudjohnsen, as Spurs began to run out of strikers.  He was involved in a move just before half-time that saw Gareth Bale released down the left and as he got into the penalty area, the long leg of Faye extended to nick the ball away from him with a very well-timed tackle.  Going into added time a couple of good chances arose, but were not taken.

Fuller muscled Bassong off the ball and went into the box, but produced a powder puff shot straight at Gomes, while a 30 yard free kick at the other end failed to trouble Sorensen, as Bale dipped it too late as it went over the bar.

The interval saw no change in personnel, nor in the weather as the rain continued.  What did change was the score-line ... within just 20 seconds of the re-start.  Spurs kicked off. lost the ball, got it back and Crouch dinked a little pass over the Stoke defenders for Gudjohnsen to chase, out-pace them and then strike a powerful rising shot past Sorensen to give him no chance and give to Spurs the lead.

Things sot quickly worse for Stoke within a couple of minutes, when Modric ran through the middle of the pitch and into the centre circle, where Dean Whitehead blocked his progress and as he got up from the challenge, he found himself facing a second yellow card and a red to follow.  The extra space produced by the sending off should have been to Tottenham's liking.  Modric immediately looked more effective with a darting run that ended with a shot from 18 yards out, which required Sorensen to dive down to his left to keep out.

The chances were coming Tottenham's way more regularly now, with Kaboul skying a couple high into the stand, Kranjcar having a low shot blocked and Assou-Ekotto fired in a shot from a clearance that took a flick off a Stoke player, otherwise it might have nestled in the bottom of the net.  A cross from Kaboul on the right was almost met by the head of Bale, but it looked as tough a red and white shirted defender was pushing him as he came in, making him miss the ball.

With 62 minutes on the clock, a speculative ball into the area from the left found Benoit climbing on Kitson's back and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.  A booking for the Cameroonian, but more importantly a chance for the home team to equalise.  And Etherington took the kick, slotting it the other way to Gomes' dive to hit the net.

Playing against ten men has never been Tottenham's forte, but they needed to knuckle down, hold the ball and make Stoke do the hard work.  11 minutes remaining and Corluka puts in a poor header at a Stoke corner and the ball drops nicely for Delap to shoot at goal, but he dragged the shot across the goal front and Ricardo Fuller was there to shoot at goal.  How he managed to get it over the top when only three yards out is anyone's guess.  

It proved a costly miss, as in the 77th minute, Tottenham worked the ball down the left and Assou-Ekotto on the over-lap put a low ball back to Gudjohnsen in the box.  The Icelander stepped over the ball for Niko Kranjcar coming in behind him to smash the ball home from 13 yards out.  It was a well-created goal and one worthy of the way Spurs played towards the end of the game.

However, it wouldn't be Tottenham if they didn't do things the hard way, but a leave by Dawson and a weak back-header by Bassong left Sibide in and the big striker failed to make much contact on the ball as Gomes came out to meet him.  And with that the opportunity to get anything from the game disappeared.

In truth, Stoke deserved little from the game.  When they did pass the ball, they looked more dangerous, but they fell back on the set plays from dead balls and Spurs had a tactic to counter it with Crouch's height at the heart of the ploy.

Even with a wobble at the end, Spurs looked confident in their own ability and while the past might have seen Tottenham taken apart as "Southern Softies", they stood firm, even with a lot of players missing from the team. 

The three points keep Spurs fourth, but they have a tough programme to come and need to keep things going to have a chance of being there at the end of the season.

stanford rivers





Fan Reaction : -



A good win in a notoriously hard place to come and get points.  Harry was not happy with the penalty, that saw BAE concede a soft penno after facing up to Vedran Corluka a few minutes before.  Charlie was probably telling him not to shoot again, as he has got his goal for this season !!

Anyway, thanks to Ricardo Fuller's shinner that flew over the bar when it looked easier to score, Spurs went up the other end and finished it with a cracking goal from Niko Kranjcar.

The basis for the victory came at the back though, with solid performances from the two central defenders and Peter Crouch adding his not inconsiderable height o proceedings.  Even Delap couldn't get past that !!

Spurs have to keep it going and pick up what points they can against the top three, as this will be a more credible test of their Champions League credentials.

mike porter



Other League scores this weekend :
Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Aston Villa 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Bolton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 3 Hull City 2 Saturday
Sunderland 3 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Burnley 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Chelsea 1 Sunday
Fulham 1 Manchester City 2 Sunday
Manchester United 2 Liverpool 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 31 22 3 6 72 25 69 +47
2 Arsenal 31 21 4 6 73 33 67 +40
3 Chelsea 30 20 5 5 70 28 65 +42
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30 16 7 7 55 29 55 +26
5 Manchester City 29 14 11 4 55 37 53 +18
6 Liverpool 31 15 6 10 50 32 51 +18
7 Aston Villa 29 13 11 5 41 24 50 +17
8 Everton 30 12 9 9 48 42 45 +6
9 Birmingham City 30 12 8 10 31 34 44 -3
10 Fulham 30 10 8 12 33 34 38 -1
11 Stoke City 30 8 12 10 29 35 36 -6
12 Blackburn Rovers 30 9 8 13 32 49 35 -17
13 Sunderland 30 8 10 12 40 46 34 -6
14 Bolton Wanderers 31 8 8 15 36 56 33 -20
15 Wigan Athletic 31 8 7 16 29 59 31 -30
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 30 7 7 16 27 51 29 -24
17 West Ham United 30 6 9 15 37 51 27 -15
18 Burnley 31 6 6 19 31 64 24 -33
19 Hull City 30 5 9 16 29 64 24 -35
20 Portsmouth 30 6 4 20 28 53 13* -25

*   9 points deducted for going into administration.


Position before the match :  4th
Position after the match :   4th
Position after the weekend :  4th

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