Tottenham Hotspur get their home opener tomorrow, as the team returns to White Hart Lane on the back of a testy season opening loss away to Manchester United. It was an interesting game, as Spurs arguably outplayed Manchester United on the back of a dominating performance by Christian Eriksen, but a Kyle Walker own goal doomed Spurs to a 1-0 defeat. The remade defense showed well, as the new Belgian pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld gave the dynamic Manchester United attack fits.
Arriving at North London is Stoke City, who lost 1-0 themselves in their season opener to Liverpool. Stoke City was boosted by the news this week that Swiss midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri had been acquired from Inter Milan, but the new signing will miss out the Spurs match due to a suspension earned in Italian play. In his place, some of Stoke City's new summer arrivals will look to star. Ibrahim Affelay will look to be one of the major attacking pieces in the Potters' midfield, while Liverpool arrival Glen Johnson will look to keep Spurs out of goal from fullback. And there will of course be bad blood if Charlie Adam features, as the Stoke midfielder has a history of bringing injury to Spurs players.
This looks to be an absolutely crucial match for Spurs, as manager Mauricio Pochettino looks to get goals out of a Spurs' attack that looked inconsistent in both preseason and their season opener. The key may be getting striker Harry Kane going, as the young English star made headlines today as he proclaimed in an interview with The Telegraph that, "I want to become a Tottenham legend and change the image of players representing England." Big words for the most lauded Tottenham homegrown talent since Ledley King.
Can Kane take the next steps towards making his words come true, and in turn give Tottenham their first victory of the season? We shall see.
Date/time: Saturday, August 15, 2 p.m. (UK), 10 a.m. (USA)
Venue: White Hart Lane, London, UK
Official: Robert Madley
TV: NBCSN (USA), Not Televised (UK), Sportsnet (Canada), Fox Sports 2 (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBCS Live Extra (USA), audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com
Well, despite the loss, last week's lineup wasn't actually that bad. I suspect we'll see something similar to last week with a few notable exceptions. We should expect to see Hugo Lloris back in goal, and Danny Rose return to the lineup at left back. Otherwise, I'd guess we'll see the same Alderweireld-Vertonghen center back pairing we saw last time. The big question, again, is in the center of midfield: Nabil Bentaleb will likely have a chance to atone for his horror-show last weekend, but who will partner him? Wouldn't surprise me to see Ryan Mason back in the lineup now that he's healthy and we're playing a team that won't relentlessly press. I also hope we'll see Alex Pritchard and Tom Carroll make the bench for this match as well.
As for the Prediction League, Mechanick and Ed both opened up the league with perfect predictions in the loss against Manchester United. The rules remain the same in the Prediction League -- one point for a correct prediction and a bonus point for getting the score correct. Here are the current standings:
|Earl of Shoop||1|
Michael Caley: Our first match was a good sign that a full offseason and some personnel changes have mostly fixed our defensive crisis. Stoke are good, and their results against us last season were no fluke. By xG, the Potters were simply the better side last year, and they have made a number of quality additions. Home advantage plus my wishcast that 90 good minutes mean we're no longer a mess have me picking Spurs, but I'm not crazy about it. 2-1 Spurs
Bryan A.: Stoke bought a lot of good attacking talent, but their back line still consists of Glen Johnson and Geoff Cameron. I am not impressed. 3-1 Spurs
GN_Punk: The defense looked great last week, and I expect it to continue. Spurs attack breaks through after a tough outing last week. Kane takes a brace, Eriksen gets some insurance, and the defense puts up a clean sheet. Spurs 3-0
Mechanick: This has to be the game Kane gets going, I think his skill will cause Cameron and Muniesa fits. This Stoke team is going to be dangerous when Shaqiri can play, but as long as Charlie Adam is filling that role instead, count me out for believing in this Potters' attack. 2-0 Spurs
Ed F.: 1-1 Draw, the "spoils" are shared.
Skipjack: Spurs' defense looked solid against United but our attack was still a bit suspect. Not sure if that had more to do with us or United. Guess we'll find out on Saturday. 2-1 Spurs.
Dustin Menno: Shaqiri? I ain't scared. Spurs looked pretty good away from home against a much better team than Stoke City last weekend. With nearly everybody healthy and the press looking decent, I'll bet Spurs will get much better chances at home against a Stoke side that's decent but not at the same level as United. 2-0 Spurs, Kane and Eriksen score.
Brett Rainbow: Spurs' defending against United was excellent, and I expect that to continue against Stoke. Kane scores a brace and we win 2-0. 2-0 Spurs
Ben Daniels: Stoke schmoke. For all their fancy new Stoki-taka football, they still play guys like Glen Whelan and Charlie Adam in their midfield. They're dangerous, but they're not there yet. 2-1 Spurs.
Kevin McCauley: I have a sneaky feeling we're bad and Stoke are good. 2-1 Stoke
55thVin: After being shamed into analysis, here is mine: I don't like Stoke City. 3-1 Spurs
Earl of Shoop: I understand our opponent this week is the club formerly known as the Cleveland Stokers. I instantly feel better about our chances. Our sometimes-sputtering offense finds its footing against a less talented midfield, our defense stays solid, and Kane and Chadli seal the win comfortably. Bonus! In a minor miracle, no Stoke player cripples anyone with a ridiculous tackle this week. Spurs 2-0
Luke Zimmermann: Spurs looked the part in the season opener and while Stoke aren't exactly world beaters, I'm playing the intangibles card and expect this to be a let down match. I'm optimistic (just barely) enough to think Spurs don't botch this in the worst of ways, but a would be 3-point opportunity will leave somewhere between something-to-much to be desired in a 1-1 Draw.
Salmon Chase: Do I still work here? How much did we sell Kane for? I'm thinking our offense comes alive like Frampton this weekend. 2-0 Spurs