The FourFourTwo Preview: Tottenham vs Stoke
Kane, Moses, Adam and other less Biblical concerns...
- Asteras 1-2 Spurs (EL)
- Villa 1-2 Spurs (Prem)
- Spurs 2-0 Brighton (LC)
- Spurs 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
- Spurs 5-1 Asteras (EL)
- Stoke 2-2 West Ham (Prem)
- Stoke 2-3 So’ton (LC)
- So’ton 1-0 Stoke (Prem)
- Stoke 2-1 Swansea (Prem)
- S’land 3-1 Stoke (Prem)
Charlie Adam isn't a particularly popular footballer; he's unlikely to ever be respectfully applauded off the pitch by opposition fans - but his unpopularity at White Hart Lane is at an altogether different level.
Since the burly Scot clattered a wet-behind-the-ears Gareth Bale with what we'll diplomatically call a 'clumsy' challenge in a match between Spurs and Blackpool in 2011, he has been public enemy No.2 in N17 (Sol Campbell is still No.1, let's not kid ourselves).
The following season, Adam - by now at Liverpool - was sent off for a high challenge on Scott Parker (having already had another nibble at Bale), and the following summer he was labelled a 'coward' by Bale following a tackle that saw the Welshman limp out of a pre-season match in the USA.
The following May, Adam faced Spurs as a Stoke player, and was again sent off, after twice fouling Jan Vertonghen. Seven months later, Adam put Spurs' Brazilian midfielder Paulinho on the sidelines for five weeks with a full-blooded and full-bodied challenge.
Paulinho's compatriot Sandro took to Instagram (because this is 2014 and this is how we do things now) to warn Adams [sic] to watch his back, among reports the Spurs players would refuse to shake the Stoke player's hand before the return fixture in the Potteries in April. The handshakes took place, and nobody was maimed, so maybe it's time to move on, eh?
In any case, the teething trouble that followed Spurs' attempts to change gears and playing styles over the course of the last few months has meant there is far less pace in their attacking play - far fewer rapid bursts.
In short, there will be less need and opportunity for Adam to boot anybody up into the air, which is probably good news for all concerned.
Stoke too are still slowly adapting to a new style, with Mark Hughes gradually eking more and more tippy-tappy dribbly-dribbly play from his charges.
On-loan Victor Moses and summer recruit Mame Biram Diouf have joined Marko Arnautovic in adding a little more pizzazz to proceedings. The Britannia Stadium outfit are now easier on the eye than they once were, but they still feel like a work in progress.
The result is that these are two slowly-improving teams currently struggling for identity and consistent fluid attacking movement. Should be some spectacle, then...
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is likely to shuffle his pack after Thursday's Europa League jaunt to Greece. Hugo Lloris, Younes Kaboul, Kyle Naughton and Emmanuel Adebayor were all left in London, meaning they should be fresh for the weekend fixture. However the Togolese may still not make the first XI, with Mauricio Pochettino under increasing pressure to hand a first Premier League start of the season to young hotshot Harry Kane. Kyle Walker (pelvis), Nabil Bentaleb (ankle) and Aaron Lennon (hamstring) remain sidelined.
Stoke will likely once again be without centre-back Robert Huth, who suffered a calf injury while on the comeback trail from knee surgery. Glenn Whelan, Peter Odemwingie are both out for the long haul.
Key battle: Danny Rose vs Mame Biram Diouf
Senegal striker Diouf has certainly caught the eye in a Stoke shirt - even if his form hasn't been entirely consistent. The former Manchester United reserve's performances may have at times been a little erratic, but he has still scored four goals in 11 matches (netting with 3 of his 4 shots on target in the Premier League) since arriving from Hannover in the summer, the most notable being the winner at the Etihad.
Last weekend against West Ham, he played as a central striker, where he had a mixed afternoon. He struggled with the aerial battle, winning only won 2 of his 6 aerial duels, but did score the Potters' second in a 2-2 draw. The return of Peter Crouch from suspension should see Diouf move back to the right wing.
If so, he'll come up against Rose. The former England Under-21 international was expected to lose his place to White Hart Lane noob Ben Davies this season, but has so far started every league match. His performances have generally been good, although against Aston Villa he showed the old habit of being caught out upfield on several occasions - that could and should be something Diouf looks to exploit.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Stoke 0-1 Spurs (PL, Apr 14)
- Spurs 3-0 Stoke (PL, Dec 13)
- Stoke 1-2 Spurs (PL, May 13)
- Spurs 0-0 Stoke (PL, Dec 12)
- Spurs 1-1 Stoke (PL, Mar 12)
The two previous meetings between Pochettino and Hughes ended all square. Pochettino's Southampton famously fell behind to a first-minute Asmir Begovic long-ranger at the Britannia last November, before levelling through Jay Rodriguez. The reverse fixture, in February of this year, saw Saints and the Potters share four goals.
Facts and figures
- Tottenham have won 6 and lost just 1 of the last 9 Premier League games against Stoke.
- Lloris has parried more saves back into a dangerous scenario than any other goalkeeper this season (12).
- Only 4 players (Fabregas, Sigurdsson, Tadic and Baines) have assisted more Premier League goals than Erik Lamela (4) this season.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Adam to not kill anybody, and another meeting between Pochettino and Hughes to end all-square. 1-1.
Back 1-1 at 7/1 with Bet365. Odds right at time of publication