COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 26th April 2014
VENUE Britannia Stadium






A surprising look at the League table shows Stoke City in 10th with only four points needed for a record haul of Premier League points and a top ten place for the first time in their history.  Mark Hughes has been continuing a quiet revolution there, following his installation as manager after Tony Pulis was removed from his seat in the manager's office.  They are allegedly playing much better football and are reaping the benefits of that.

Some of this may be helped by the players that Hughes has shipped out and brought in, although some more might be through the door, either way, in the summer.  Stephen Ireland has been given a boost to his career by linking up with his former Manchester City boss and brining in Peter Odemwengie from Cardiff City has been another move that has sparked a revival in the player's fortunes.  While Ireland does not have pace, he can pick out a killer pass, which the Nigerian striker has the speed to get onto and he has shown a willingness to find the net since his move to the Britannia.  Up front, he has joined Peter Crouch, Marko Arnuatovic and Jonathan Walters.  Crouch we know all about, keeping his goal-scoring going, he tops the Stoke league scorers list at the moment and his height and movement can cause opponents problems as he holds the ball up well for supporting midfielders to come on to.  Arnautovic is in a similar mould, but he prefers to attack from a little deeper rather than being the furthest man forward.  His skill could pose a few issues and Jonathan Walters is a runner with the ball, but he lacks the blistering pace to make him highly dangerous.  Still pops up with his share of goals and is god from a dead ball situation.

While there may be a new wind blowing through the Stoke stadium (quite literally most of the time), there is still some rubbish to be wind-blown out of there.  Charlie Adam is still there and Steven Nzonzi seems to want away, with Glenn Whelan another who might make way in the next transfer window.  The midfield contains Oussama Assaidi, who is on loan from Liverpool and has scored a couple of screamers this season, but has been getting a first taste of the Premier League, but Matthew Etherington will be missing the game against one of his former clubs, due to a back injury.  That leaves a more workmanlike four of Adam, Nzonzi, Whelan and Ireland to face the Spurs five, but Walters might play in the hole, where he can roam across the line to cause problems popping up in places the Spurs players might not have been aware that he had moved into.

The defence has been missing Robert Huth and Asmir Begovic for a while and the return of the keeper has strengthened the back line, although Huth will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.  Marc Wilson has popped up one defensive side, with Eric Pieters having been missing, but the Dutchman will return, probably with Geoff Cameron on the other side.  Both are hard-working full backs, who like to get forward, but Hughes will need to instil the discipline to cover the spaces they leave.  Central defence will be filled by Ryan Shawcross and the aforementioned Wilson, but there could be some advantages for Emmanuel Adebayor as his movement might pull players not used to playing alongside each other apart.  Shawcross thinks he is a hard man defender, but he showed at White Hart Lane that it is not hard to take him apart, so there could be a weakness there.

Stoke have a very good home record and Spurs a very good away record, so you might think that this would end in a draw, but I think Spurs will now fancy their luck at Stoke.  Having been scoring freely in the last few matches, with Sherwood no doubt working on how to stop them conceding a first minute goal, Spurs might be a bit more difficult to break down, but whether this will affect their attacking intentions, we will see.  City have still been finding goals hard to come by, so might be grateful of any helping hand Spurs can proffer. 

A narrow win for Tottenham is my view, but it depends which Spurs and which Stoke turn out.

PREDICTION Stoke City    1         Tottenham Hotspur    2
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
A pub in Hanley, Stoke on Trent would like to offer travelling Spurs fans the use of the facilities on match day v Stoke City as there are no pubs by Britannia stadium for away fans.
They already offer away fans for Port Vale games and as we are central we would like to offer travelling fans going to the Stoke City game the same.
They operate a closed doors policy on match days and are strictly away fans only. If you would like to use the pub, the number is 01782-861273 and ask for Paul.

MEHSTG is merely passing this information on as a service to travelling Spurs fans and takes no responsibility for any issues arising from a visit to the premises.
Etienne Capoue (ankle), Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Erik Lamela (back) and Kyle Walker (hip) are definitely out, while Mousa Dembele is doubtful with an ankle problem.  Michael Dawson returns after pulling a hamstring in the Liverpool match.  .
Eric Pieters is back at full back after missing the last match through illness, but Robert Huth (knee) and Matthew Etherington (back) miss out.

Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.30 (highlights)   [repeated at 07:35 Sunday]  Also available online.
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 1) - Sunday 22.25 (highlights)  Also available online.

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Stoke City   0  (0)                                                                                    Tottenham Hotspur  1  (1)
Premier League
Saturday 26th April 2014                                                                                                                    Kick off 15:00
Britannia Stadium
None Rose 33
Shawcross (foul on Eriksen) 45 
Arnautovic (foul on Kane) 90+1

Shawcross (second yellow - foul on Rose) 52 

Naughton (foul on Muniesa) 44
Rose (retaliation on Cameron) 65


Crowd :   26,021 Weather :  Sunshine and rain
Referee :  Andre Marriner (West Midlands) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Burt, Mr. S. Beck
Fourth Official :  Craig Pawson -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Boothen end in the first half.
Game time : -   90 + 5 minutes.
Stoke City : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit
  1  Asmir BEGOVIC

20  Geoff CAMERON
  Ryan SHAWCROSS (c)              
12  Marc WILSON
  5  Marc MUNIESA

32  Stephen IRELAND (  3  Eric PIETERS 55)
  Steven NZONZI
  6  Glenn WHELAN
10  Marc ARNAUTOVIC     

25  Peter CROUCH (24  Ousamma ASSAIDI 61)

Unused subs: 
29  Thomas SORENSEN
16  Charlie ADAM
  8  Wilson PALACIOS
19  Jonathan WALTERS

  25  Hugo LLORIS

16  Kyle NAUGHTON     
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  4  Younes KABOUL
  3  Danny ROSE        (35  Zeki FRYERS 69)

  7  Aaron LENNON  (17  Andros TOWNSEND 78)
23  Christian ERIKSEN
Nacer CHADLI (22  Gyfli SIGURDSSON 73)

10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR
37  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL

42  Nabil BENTALEB
  9  Roberto SOLDADO

Manager :  Mark Hughes Manager :  Tim Sherwood
Sponsor :   Bet 365 Shirt sponsor :  Hewlett Packard
Kit Supplier :  adidas Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

Tottenham sent the Potters support home grumbling about everything and anything, but what it all came down to was a single goal victory for Tottenham over a Stoke City side that only played when the team were down to ten men.  However, their failure to score goals cost Stoke here, as it has done away from home on a regular basis.

Spurs brought back Michael Dawson in the heart of the defence as a counter to the threat in the air from former Spurs striker Peter Crouch.  Other than that, the Tottenham team was the same as it has been in recent weeks, while Stoke went with their settled line-up, not risking bringing back Eric Pieters into the starting XI.

From their kick off, Spurs almost had a quick start rather than conceding a goal in the first minute.  Nacer Chadli ran at the defence, who backed off and his shot was not too far away from the top corner.  After that the game had a cagey start, with the most notable thing being Shawcross going down under challenges by Lennon and then Adebayor, where he needed lengthy treatment, as he claimed he had got an elbow in the face.

Aaron Lennon came close to scoring in the 10th minute, when he teased Steven Ireland on our right wing, before switching to his left foot and putting a shot in that Begovic had to fumble around his near post as the ball headed towards the area just below the crossbar and post.

Lloris had to come for a high ball hanging in the breeze when it was headed back towards goal from a cross on the other side of the pitch.  He got under it a bit and had to go over Crouch, but managed to recover the ball on the ground.  There was a bit of passing on the ground, but the tackles still flew in with full force and not always winning the ball.  It was like watching Stoke of old, with set pieces being lumped into the box, but Stoke were also conceding free-kicks at regular intervals, with Eriksen's whipped in dead ball delivery nearly found a head to glance it past the keeper, but it thumped into Begovic's chest instead.

Dawson had been busy, keeping Crouch at bay and also throwing a block to thwart a Whelan shot following Spurs losing the ball far too easily out on their left wing.

Tottenham's build-up wasn't too bad, but the final ball failed to penetrate the back four, with some passes not very good, as they never looked like reaching their target.  When Stoke broke, they did look dangerous, with Ireland cutting inside to curl a right foot shot a foot or two side of Lloris' far post, then Kane was weaving into the box at the other end, but was unable to find a low shot that would beat the goalie.  What did beat Begovic was a neat little goal created by Adebayor.  He touched the ball on one side of Whelan in the area on the right side, then had the nous to stand up a cross to the far post where Danny Rose flew in to power a header past the keeper to hand Spurs the lead with 32 minutes gone.

Adebayor got involved with Charlie Adam, who wasn't even on the pitch, but stuck as leg out as the Spurs man ran after a ball that went off the side of the pitch.  Adam was warming up, but took the opportunity to wind Emmanuel up.  After that, the rain started pouring down and with a corner cleared and Dawson kicking out a curling low cross from Whelan, there wasn't too much to get excited about, unless you were a Stoke supporter, who, knowing little about football, claimed a handball against Kane in the Tottenham box, when it clearly hit him in the stomach.  Spurs did have a decent attack, with Kane cutting back on a defender and having his shot blocked, with Adebayor receiving the ball in the second phase of play to lay it into the path of Lennon, just inside the box, but the winger's touch was awful and the ball was cleared.

Both sides traded yellow cards, with Naughton pulling Muniesa down when he threatened to go past him, after Lennon had lost the ball, then, unsurprisingly, Shawcross joined him, when he made sure Eriksen didn't nutmeg him by bundling him over without any attempt to go for the ball.

There were no changes at the break, so  the game should have continued in the way it had been going, but Arnautovic held off Naughton on the left hand corner of the box and hit a fierce shot at goal, but it ended up a good couple of yards wide.  Spurs then showed what they could do going forward and Kane played a reverse ball to Eriksen, who ran across the face of the box and hit a shot that Nzonzi blocked.

Six minutes into the half, a ball hung up in the air and Danny Rose won the ball, knocking the ball away, but Shawcross, as he does all too often, took his challenge through and dragged his studs down Rose's shin, luckily only earning a second yellow card, which added up to a red.

I'm not sure whether Mark Hughes' persistent shouts of "Shite" were aimed at the referee or his side.   And while the Stoke crowd might be the loudest, they are the most ignorant.  Cries of "handball" were laughable in their incredulity.  They shouted that almost as much as their manager was criticising the match official.  Shawcross has played over 200 Premier League game sand should know better.  I don't know how many games the Stoke supporters have ever seen, but their booing of Danny Rose was a joke.

With the extra man, Spurs had to make it count and Kane's low ball across the box in the 55th minute found Lennon, who saw his effort blocked by a lunging dive.  It was almost ten minutes before Stoke made any indent into the Spurs defence, when a cross from the left found Odemwingie coming in, but his header flew over.  Unfortunately, Rose let the barracking get to him and when Marriner failed to punish Cameron for a late chop at his ankles, he followed the Canadian and pushed him in the chest.  He got a yellow and might have been lucky to avoid getting a red, although he didn't raise his hands to the Stoke man's face.

Arnautovic had a chance when Stoke broke through the middle of the Tottenham defence, but Kaboul put him off with a good tackle, then a cross from the right just failed to be close enough to allow  Nzonzi to get full contact with his header.  Stretching, he put it wide.  Lloris had to dive low to keep a shot from Nzonzi out with his legs ... his first save of the game.

Rose was taken out of the firing line, as it looked like Stoke were planning to wind him up into a sending off, with Zeki Fryers coming on and when a cross from the right failed to find Adebayor, with Wilson clearing, Fryers bent in a cross that Kane met, but without conviction and he sent it over the bar.  The game descended into a mess, with players dwelling on the ball and getting caught in possession and passes not finding their man.  The slippery surface only contributed to the lack of quality.  Tottenham seemed to lack the urgency to go on and kill the game off.  Happy to keep hold of the ball, they failed to make a telling pass around the edge of the area.

When Tottenham did get a shooting opportunity, Eriksen shot over from about 23 yards out after Whelan had pulled down Sigurdsson, on as a sub for Chadli.  Kane got away from Muniesa, but his low ball in didn't look for a dark blue shirt.  Another sub, Andros Townsend was almost immediately injured, when Pieters cleared him out with his trailing leg and injured the winger's ankle.  I fully expected the home crowd to be howling for a foul, as they had done for most of the game, but then they wouldn't know one when they see one.  They thought they saw one when Dawson slid the ball away from Assaidi, but if they shout you know it is the opposite of what they want.

Whelan put a good ball across the face of goal, but Arnautovic had two chances; one which he blazed over and then a second when he got away from Dawson and just inside the box, he could only hit it low straight where Lloris was.  Nzonzi had a shot with three minutes left, but again, it was aimed straight at the French keeper.  Then Cameron crashed a shot way over the bar, when the blood went to his head.  Stoke were making more of a game of it with ten than with eleven.  What does that say about Shawcross ??  But in truth, Townsend was nothing more than a passenger.

There was one bright moment, when Younes Kaboul went on an eighty yard run up the line to the dead ball line.  However, when he got there, he couldn't quite pick out a Spurs man in the goalmouth.  They decided to run down the clock when they got a centrally placed free-kick a couple of yards outside the box, after Arnautovic scissored Kane's legs and got a yellow card for his trouble.  Begovic was required to save with his foot, as Paulinho burst through into the area onto Sigurdsson's pass and tried to slip a low shot past him deep into added time. 

Hilariously, before the final whistle was greeted with boos by the Stokies, they were singing "1-0 to the referee".  It was a much louder song than any that were urging their team on.  They got what they deserved really and the sense of disgruntlement they showed was borne of having had a decent run at home and not being able to accept that their captain had given the referee no option other than to send him off.

Mark Hughes is obviously trying to turn the culture of the Stoke team around, but he needs to try harder and they could be a good team if they tried to play a bit more football.  They don't need to go out to be far more physical than the opposition, as that way lies madness.  Until he can get the footballing best out of his players, the club will always be striving to be a top half team.  Lacking a top striker and players who can make the right decisions at the right times, they might have to wait a while for that to happen.

Pete Evans


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What you thought
Stan Chun Mark Hughes must have had his Arsene Wenger glasses on or he was judging Shawcross' second "tackle" on Rose as fair, but only from the "Mark Hughes Book of Tackling" !
Benny The Ball Loved the David Moyes song !!!!!
Karen Goodman What is Hughes on about ?  Every yellow card was correctly awarded; even the Tottenham ones.  You can tell that he used to play for Man U, expecting every decision.  What it came down to, was that even when your ten men were on top, they still weren't good enough to score once, let alone twice to get a win.  It was interesting that he reckoned they would have won if they had eleven men for the whole game.  They weren't great with 11 for 52 minutes !!
- -.



Other scores during this week :
Fulham 2 Hull City 2 Saturday
Southampton 2 Everton 0 Saturday
Swansea City 4 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Manchester United 4 Norwich City 0 Saturday
Sunderland 4 Cardiff City 0 Sunday
Liverpool 0 Chelsea 2 Sunday
Crystal Palace 0 Manchester City 2 Sunday
Arsenal 3 Newcastle United 0 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 36 25 5 6 96 46 80 +50
2 Chelsea 36 24 6 6 69 26 78 +43
3 Manchester City 35 24 5 6 93 35 77 +58
4 Arsenal 36 22 7 7 65 41 73 +24
5 Everton 36 20 9 7 57 36 69 +21
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 36 20 6 10 52 49 66 +3
7 Manchester United 35 18 6 11 60 40 60 +20
8 Southampton 36 14 10 12 52 45 52 +7
9 Newcastle United 36 14 4 18 39 57 46 -18
10 Stoke City 36 11 11 14 39 50 44 -11
11 Crystal Palace 36 12 4 19 28 43 43 -15
12 Swansea City 36 10 9 17 51 52 39 -1
13 West Ham United 36 10 7 19 38 49 37 -11
14 Hull City 35 10 7 18 36 45 37 -9
15 West Bromwich Albion 35 7 15 13 42 54 36 -12
16 Aston Villa 35 9 8 18 36 53 35 -17
17 Sunderland 35 8 8 19 37 57 32 -20
18 Norwich City 36 8 8 20 28 60 32 -32
19 Fulham 36 9 4 23 37 79 31 -42
20 Cardiff City 36 7 9 20 31 69 30 -38


Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  6th
Position after the weekend :  6th

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