Tottenham Hotspur travel to Stoke to take on a revitalized Potters team on Saturday. For Spurs, the memory of their very good performance against Manchester City should hopefully spur them onto a similarly solid match. Despite Stoke being a difficult place to play, Spurs have experienced a pretty good record there, winning their last two trips to the Brittania and three of the last four matches against the Potters. However, Stoke beat Spurs 2-1 at White Hart Lane in November off of goals by Bojan and Jon Walters.
Do you remember Tony Pulis' Stoke City? Defensive, dour, and boring, Stoke became synonymous with anti-football and the Potters became renowned for defending deep, lobbing balls over the top, and leg-breaking tackles. Well, Pulis is gone, Mark Hughes is in, and Stoke don't really play that way anymore. Despite likely finishing at about the same position in the table that Pulis used to (i.e. the middle), Stoke are looking much more open, attacking, and positive. Sure, they still have Charlie Adam, but Gareth Bale's not around for him to go in two-footed anymore. And Stoke are still pretty good at home. This isn't a cake-walk for Spurs; they'll need a good performance to get the points.
Date: Saturday, May 9, 2015
Time: 3:00 p.m. (UK) 10:00 a.m. ET
Location: White Hart Lane, London, England
TV: BBC Radio (UK), NBC Sports Network (USA)
Well, now we know why Mousa Dembele and Andros Townsend didn't make the squad last week: because they were both injured, and nobody bothered to actually tell anyone. Now both are healthy again, which means the only injuries of note are Kyle Walker and Ben Davies, who are both out for the year. It's as healthy as Spurs have been in a while.
For Stoke, Jack Butland started between the sticks for the Potters last week but it's unclear if he's now moved ahead of Asmir Begovic in the pecking order or if it was Mark Hughes sending a message. Victor Moses and Bojan remain sidelined with injury, and Marc Wilson will not feature after picking up a red card against Swansea last week.
Projected Tottenham lineup
Mousa Dembele and Andros Townsend are back, everyone! That's fantastic! But it probably doesn't mean anything to Tottenham's starting 11. Erik Lamela has played well enough that there's probably no chance he gets benched against the Potters, and though we continually dream of Andros on the left in place of Nacer Chadli, pretty sure it won't happen either. It's reasonable to expect that both will be on the bench. Defensively, I think we'll continue to see Jan Vertonghen pair with Federico Fazio; Mame Biram Diouf is fast, but he's no Sergio Agüero. Wide right, I think we'll continue to see Eric Dier deputize, and there's no reason to expect anything different in the center of midfield. In other words, business as usual.