Tottenham’s Task More Difficult After Charlie Adam’s Dismissal


Tottenham defeated Stoke with a late goal but they faced a more difficult task after Charlie Adam had been sent off early in the second half. The dismissal changed the nature of the game.

Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal saved the day for Spurs. [Photo: Jav The_Doc_66]There is a general assumption that a team with eleven players is going to win whenever their opponents have a man sent off. This is not always the case as a team who has seen their player dismissed can regroup and put up stubborn resistance to deny their opponents and sometimes even cause an upset.

Tottenham went on to take the three points at the Britannia Stadium but the game changed very early in the second half. Adam had been booked for a challenge on Jan Vertonghen just before the interval and then within 90 seconds of the restart he was shown a second yellow card for another foul on the full back. It was an unnecessary challenge as there was no danger and there were other Stoke players around to deal with the situation.

Adam has a history against Tottenham dating back to his Blackpool days when his tackle on Gareth Bale brought the winger’s season to an early end in 2011. Early the following season he was dismissed in Liverpool’s defeat at White Hart Lane for a challenge on Luka Modric. Last summer in a pre-season game in America he caused further consternation with a tackle on Bale in the match against Liverpool.

Fast Tempo, Open Game

In the first half it had been an open game played at a high tempo with both sides looking to get forward whenever possible. Tottenham had dominated the possession and had territorial advantage during the first 45 minutes but they had found room to get forward and trouble the home defence with Gareth Bale requiring Begovic to make a couple of saves.

Dogged Defensive Display

After the sending off Stoke retreated to the edge of their penalty area and with two close lines of 4 denied Tottenham the space to play their passing game. Stoke are a well-disciplined, organised side and are accustomed to keeping it tight at the back as they did at White Hart Lane in December to deny Spurs.

With Stoke having eight men defending in front of the penalty area there was no room to create a pass and Spurs were struggling to make headway. The space on the wings was well covered with Stoke’s wide men playing deep so Tottenham had to be patient in their play. The Spurs defenders often pushed forward as they were unable to pick a pass with everyone tightly marked and this only added to the congestion in midfield.

Stoke are also past masters at delaying and disrupting tactics to prevent their opponents getting any tempo or rhythm into their game which only added to Tottenham’s frustration.

With Tottenham having so many men forward probing for a way through when Stoke did make the occasional foray in attack Spurs were not as organised at the back as they had been which caused a few anxious moments. All Stoke needed was one free-kick or corner and they could have made Spurs pay for any slackness. Thankfully Spurs didn’t fall prey to a rare attack and were able to repel the goal attempts.

Just as it looked as if Stoke’s tactics were going to be rewarded, Tottenham got the breakthrough with Emmanuel Adebayor’s goal seven minutes from time.

Attack or Defend

Having taken the lead, Spurs  then faced a new dilemma – defend to hold the lead or attack as they had been doing? In truth, Spurs stopped playing once they were ahead which allowed Stoke to come forward as they had nothing to lose. It led to a nervy few minutes but Spurs won through for the deserved three points.

In his post-match interview on the BBC web-site, Andre Villas-Boas commended his team for their patience.

"“What we did was we kept the patience. It would have been very easy for us to lump it forward. We were rewarded in the end for that patience. In the end we got what we deserved."

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