Tottenham and Stoke are both in need of a win from their Premier League game this afternoon. Spurs to bring an end to their run of home matches without a win and Stoke as a response to their heavy loss at Newcastle on Boxing Day. Whose desire for a win will be the greater?
The visit of Stoke City gives Tim Sherwood another opportunity for a win at White Hart Lane before Spurs face two difficult away matches at Old Trafford and the Emirates in the coming week. While Spurs have shown a greater tempo in their play since Sherwood took over, the end result in home games has been the same, an inability to break down well-drilled defences. Spurs can expect more of the same today as Stoke try to put their 5 – 1 defeat at St James’ Park on Thursday behind them.
It was on the weekend before Christmas that Stoke came to White Hart Lane last season and Tony Pulis’ side defended well and held Spurs to a scoreless draw. Last season Stoke, at that time, had an excellent defensive record having conceded only 13 goals in 18 league matches and were in 8th place after an unbeaten run of eight games. Stoke deserved their point for a well-organised defensive display but it took an exceptional save in the final minute to foil Spurs as Sandro’s cross found Sigurdsson whose header went low to the goalkeeper’s right. Begovic got a hand to the ball for his 9th clean sheet of the season.
Spurs Home League Record against Stoke (inc. PL)
P 38 W 28 D 8 L 2 For 81 Ag 31
Premier League record against Stoke at White Hart Lane
P 5 W 2 D 2 L 1 For 7 Ag 5
Spurs Home Record Against Stoke (prior to 2012): Read more
Stoke are currently 12th in the League, 4 places and 10 points behind Tottenham. Their away form is poor with only one win, two draws and 6 defeats. They have scored only 8 goals while conceding 20 on their travels. It is their home form where they defeated Chelsea at the beginning of the month and have lost only once which has kept them five points ahead of Fulham in 18th position, the first of the relegation places.
It could make for an interesting match – Spurs who can’t win at home against Stoke who can’t win away – or perhaps a stalemate.
Stoke’s only away League win came at the end of August, a 1 – 0 success over West Ham. They started the season by losing at Anfield (1 – 0). After the win in London, their next two visits to the capital ended in defeat at Arsenal (3 – 1) and Fulham (1 – 0). They lost at Old Trafford (3 – 2) and shared six goals at Swansea for their first away draw. At the end of November they were beaten 4 – 0 at Everton but took a point at Hull in a scoreless draw before the defeat at Newcastle. That was only their second defeat in a run of 9 League games.
Mark Hughes, since taking over from Tony Pulis, has tried to alter Stoke’s style of play and move away from the high ball, long throws, high intensity play that Stoke were famed for under their former manager. It has had it’s successes at the Britannia Stadium but less so away from home.
Former Tottenham striker, Peter Crouch is Stoke’s leading goalscorer in all competitions with 5 goals. Charlie Adam who has form against Spurs and Kerwyn Jones have scored 4 each. Also in the Stoke squad will be the former Spurs player Wlson Palacios who joined Stoke at the same tine as Crouch.
Spurs are slipping further behind the top teams with each passing game so can’t afford to drop any more points or the season, in terms of a Champions League place is going to be over very soon. They are only 5 points off 4th place but the teams above them are showing remarkable consistency – Liverpool and Everton – while Newcastle and Manchester United have rediscovered their form and winning ways.
Spurs may be under new management but so far there’s little indication that there’s going to be much change in results. The team may be trying to play in a more expansive way and at a greater tempo but they still can’t find a way through a well-organised defence or take goal scoring chances when they come along. Defensively, Spurs have been very shaky in recent weeks, conceding goals from mistakes and set-pieces. Greater concentration and endeavour is required to cut these out to avoid additional difficulties and pressure of their own making.
Tim Sherwood’s explanation of the difficulties against WBA sounded rather familar. He told @SpursOfficial,
The shame is that we scored a goal, a fantastic free-kick from Christian, but before we drew breath they equalised.
At the beginning of December, in the draw with Manchester United, Andre Villas-Boas made a similar comment after United’s second equaliser from the penalty spot.
Daniel Levy looked rather glum-faced during the draw with Albion, if Spurs don’t manage to take the three points this afternoon and the quiet boos which greeted the final whistle against Albion on Thursday increase in volume, gaining further support, he may reflect on his recent decisions.
Spurs are still without their long-term absentees through injury – Jan Vertonghen, Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Andros Townsend while there are doubts over Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Mousa Dembele. Paulinho is available again following his three game suspension but Kyle Walker will be missing as he picked up his 5th yellow card against Albion and has a one match suspension.
Stoke are hit with suspensions as Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were sent off against Newcastle. Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is out with a broken finger but his replacement Thomas Sorensen has shown excellent form in previous games at White Hart Lane for Aston Villa and Sunderland.
Spurs are in need of a morale boosting win this afternoon to end the year on a high with such big games coming up in the next week. With supporters’ expectations low after a difficult month everyone is looking for a positive response from the players and an indication that they are beginning to come together as a team. All of them need to step up to the mark and show their true form and that they are capable of performing in the Premier League.