Opportunity. Leicester City's nail-biting draw on Sunday, combined with the red card to Jamie Vardy that will see the striker miss at least one more match, has given heart to Tottenham Hotspur's waning title hopes. Spurs now lie eight points behind Leicester with a game in hand, with a win on Monday closing the gap to five points. Tottenham is bringing its best team for the final push though, as vice-captain Jan Vertonghen returned last weekend in the 3-0 win over Manchester United, giving Mauricio Pochettino is full stable of starters for the first time since January. Perfect form may needed if Spurs hope to win the league, so the test will be if Tottenham can get a needed Monday night victory on the road.
Spurs travel away to face a Stoke City team that sits in 9th place. The Potters have been boosted by a combination of tough defense and resolute home form, as Mark Hughes team is having another strong season. Stoke has been beset by injuries and suspensions though, as Hughes will struggle to get the best out of his team that was eviscerated by Liverpool in their last outing. There are scoring threats on Stoke, as Joselu, Xherdan Shaqiri, Bojan Krkic, and Marko Arnautovic (if healthy) will look to break down a Spurs defense that is still settling in Vertonghen. The Stoke defense has been cratered and failed to keep a clean sheet in over a month, so the Spurs attack led by Harry Kane will certainly look to break down The Potters as they push for a needed three points.
Can Spurs close the league title gap to five points with a win? We shall see.
How to Watch
Date/time: Monday, April 18, 2016, 8:00 p.m. (UK), 3:00 p.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Official: Neil Swarbrick
TV: NBC Sports Network (USA), Sky Sports 1 (UK), TSN4 (Canada), Fox Sports 4 (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also BBC Radio London and TalkSport
Fit. Manager Mauricio Pochettino finally had his first choice team healthy last week against Manchester United, as Jan Vertongen returned to the lineup after being out since January 23rd with an MCL injury. We expect Spurs to repeat their first choice lineup against Stoke City, especially after the 3-0 win they produced against United. It would not be a shock if Kevin Wimmer or Son Heung-Min return to the lineup, but it seems very likely that Pochettino repeats last week's lineup as he returns to his Belgian duo in central defense.
As for the Prediction League, Matthew and Mechanick both foresaw the Spurs win over United, although no writer guessed the 3-0 scoreline. 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||15|
Dustin Menno: The weather forecast for Stoke-on-Trent for Monday says it will be neither cold nor rainy on Monday night. Therefore: we win. 2-0 Spurs
Skipjack: 2-2 Draw, because Lester is such a great story.
Ben Daniels: Not worried. 3-0 Spurs
55thVin: As long as the linesman/woman doesn't have a shocker that leaves them eating a bacon sandwich at 1:00am, saying "f*** me, what have I done?" , we get the three points. Our midfield is too good for them. I see them sneaking a goal because they're at home, but we will deal with it. 2-1 Spurs
Luke Zimmerman: 2-0 Spurs. After Leicester falls at the hands of West Ham, Spurs will be empowered to get back within 4. There's no stopping this train.
Earl of Shoop: Stoke at one odd point in football history played in Cleveland, OH, as the Cleveland Stokers. No one shoulld be afraid of a football team of any variety from Cleveland. Spurs 2-0
Matt Pachniuk: Stoke City has had a fine season and are perennially annoying at the Britannia. But, you know, we are witnessing a stupidly awesome season so everything will continue to be fantastic. 2-0 Spurs
Jake Meador: 2-1 Spurs
GN Punk: Stoke are kind of a mess. They're without their fantastic goalkeeper. We're flying high after thumping United. The beatings will continue until morale reaches a level that can't be measured. Spurs 3-1
Brian Mechanick: A first choice Spurs team buoyed by an opportunity to close the league lead gap? I am enthused. 2-0 Spurs
Ed F.: I seem to be reverse jinxing Spurs into keeping a fingernail grip on the title race at the moment, so I'll just continue in a similar vein and say 2-1 Stoke. Crouch brace, natch(os).
Bryan Ashlock: Other people have already predicted a draw or a loss, so I can do real and thought provoking analysis of this one. Uh.... Hmmmm... 1-0 Stoke because why would anything good ever happen.