What Tottenham Can Expect from Stoke in Carabao Cup?

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur shoots at goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Bet365 Stadium on April 7, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - APRIL 07: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur shoots at goal during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur at Bet365 Stadium on April 7, 2018 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images) /

Tottenham Hotspur face Stoke City at bet365 Stadium Wednesday evening, what should the team and Spurs fans expect from the Potters in the quarterfinal matchup?

When Tottenham Hotspur take on Stoke in the Carabao Cup, Spurs can expect a team “with energy and freshness” according to Coach Michael O’Neil. When it comes to Stoke energy and freshness mean a difficult matchup is coming, so what can Spurs expect from O’Neil’s team?

Stoke is Beat Up

The fact that Stoke City currently sit 7th and out of the Championship playoffs only on goal difference is a testament to the quality of the staff and commitment of the players at the club. I say that, because Stoke City has been bitten bad by the injury bug this season and, in some areas, it is just ridiculous.

Tottenham Hotspur suffered a bit from losing Hugo Lloris last season. Now imagine that Spurs also lost Paulo Gazzaniga as well. Spurs would have then been down to Alfie Whiteman or Brandon Austin. Now imagine both Austin and Whiteman get hurt.  That is the situation Stoke find themselves in with their keeper this season, where they have four goalkeepers out right now.

With the current situation at keeper Stoke are only down to two options. The first is 19-year-old Cameroonian Blondy Nna Noukeu who would be making his first career senior start for the Potters if he gets the call. Alternatively, O’Neil can go with 37-year-old journeyman keeper Andy Lonergan who has been with the club since December 1.

Besides the keeper issues, Stoke will be without John Obi Mikel, who has provided real stability across more than 1200 minutes for the team. Maybe most frustratingly for Potter fans was the recent season ending knee injury to Tyrese Campbell, who at just 20 has come on this season with six goals and five assists for the Potters. So bad is the injury situation that club captain Ryan Shawcross has only played 41 minutes all season.

Tough to Break Down

Regardless of the injuries, Stoke have maintained and are in the conversation for the promotion playoffs. Maybe more relevant to Spurs fans is the fact that to get to this point in the tournament Stoke has already beaten two good Premier League sides in Wolverhampton and Aston Villa. Even more impressive has been the Stoke goal record in the Cup.

Thus far in the Carabao Cup Stoke have played four matches and have yet to concede a goal. While they did concede four penalties in a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Blackpool in round 1 of the competition, they have not conceded in 360 minutes of Cup action. This good defense is not restricted to Cup action either.

Stoke have held a clean sheet in six of their last seven matches in the Championship, losing only once in that space to Cardiff 1-2. Those two goals were shipped on December 8 and Stoke have not conceded since in three matches. So, while the team has gone through keepers like most folks do socks and have had injuries across the pitch, their team defense and ability to keep a clean sheet have persisted.

Playing for Penalties

It is not that Stoke City does not score, they do, they have 25 goals in 20 Championship matches this season, which is five more than they have conceded. However, Stoke is not an offensive juggernaut and plays a more conservative approach akin to José Mourinho’s preferred style. Stoke is not going to outscore you, they are going to beat you or at worsts draw you, because they defended really well.

In the Carabao Cup, there are no draws, and more significantly there is no overtime and extra time. If fans harken back to the Chelsea match-up, it was just draw and on to a shootout. With this idea of drawing and then entering the crapshoot that is a shootout, Stoke could play very conservatively.

Add in the fact that O’Neil is already talking about going 90, but not having to deal with extra time on the Stoke website and you start to get the idea that maybe these guys want to keep it scoreless and get to a shootout. Stoke have three goals in their four wins in this competition thus far this season, with the first victory being in a shootout after a zero-to-zero draw.

Based on the evidence, it would not be out of character for Stoke to play for a 0-0 draw. In fact, in their last three Championship matches, while they have not given up any goals, they have only scored 1. Stoke is not going to outscore Tottenham, but they can beat them if they do not give up any goals, especially in a penalty shootout where anything can happen. With this in mind, Spurs need to come ready and not give Stoke the chance.

Next. Three Things We Want to See from Spurs v Stoke. dark