Tottenham Hotspur travel to the Britannia, ahem, The bet365 Stadium on Saturday to face Stoke City in the fourth game of the 2016-17 season. The Potters sit dead last in the Premier League with a negative four goal differential and just one point gained from their first three fixtures.
Regardless of their current standing and form, this is a more palatable Stoke City side than in years past. Stoke has real quality going forward in Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautović, and Bojan Krkić who can all provide bona fide moments of brilliance on their day. The summer transfers of Joe Allen and deadline day signing Wilifred Bony look to be smart additions too. A hungry Allen, coming off a stellar Euro, brings a link to Stoke's midfield and Bony has proven to be a handful to defenders throughout his Premier League career.
The Potters are not without injury though. Jack Butland, Ibrahim Affelay, and Stephen Ireland are all out long term, while Shaqiri is a question mark, and Glen Johnson a likely miss for Saturday's match. From a Spurs perspective, Mousa Dembélé will miss the final game of his suspension dating back to last season and Danny Rose will be out of the lineup with the knock he picked up against Slovakia.
Spurs haven't had the easiest of run-ins thus far and The bet365 Stadium, despite Stoke's standing, is never an easy place to play. Deadline day is over and Spurs are through the dreaded early season international break; its time to let the Premier League season rip.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, September 10th, 2016, 3 p.m. (UK), 10 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: The bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Official: Anthony Taylor
TV: CNBC (USA), not televised (UK), Sportsnet (Canada), SBS One / Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
Hugo Lloris has been cleared to play and will travel with the team to Stoke. Michel Vorm was wonderful in his absence, but will relinquish the starting spot back to Tottenham's captain. Danny Rose's injury will provide Ben Davies his first appearance of the Premier League season too. The Welsh international has been an able deputy for Rose in the past and will slot directly into the left-back position for Saturday's match.
Erik Lamela's sixty-seven minutes on Tuesday in Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Uruguay puts his place in the squad into question. That Spurs have their first Champions League match of the year on Wednesday, against Monaco, muddies the water for his inclusion even further.
My guess is that Erik Lamela doesn't start on Saturday. The two players who are in contention to replace him are Spurs new £30 million man, Moussa Sisokko, and Son Heung-Min. What I would LOVE is for both players to make the first eleven at the The bet365 Stadium. If Victor Wanyama or Eric Dier is rested, then Sissoko can play in the box to box role of the double pivot, with Sonny replacing Lamela directly in the attacking band. This would allow two players who haven't been involved this campaign to get their first minutes and ensure that three players (Dier/Wanyama, Moose, & Lamela) in the front six would be fully rested for Monaco.
What I think will happen is a different story. The season is still in its infancy and Poche wants these points. While this is a galaxy away from a must win, with two draws and a late 1-0 victory over Palace, I don't think Pochettino is too worried about rest and rotation just yet. Moussa Sisokko will get the nod and make his debut as a direct replacement for Lamela on the right. Add Lloris and Davies to the mix and there will be three changes from last week.
Four people correctly predicted a draw from the Spurs-Liverpool match two Saturdays ago. Both Matthew Pachniuk and GN Punk meddled with the dark arts, rendezvoused with a nefarious entity, and sold a piece of their soul to nail an exact score. Luke Zimmerman retains his early season lead, with a ravenous horde of CFC writers clamoring at the door.
|Earl of Shoop
Dustin Menno: Stoke look deceptively decent to my eyes. They have a number of good players with Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Bojan, and now Bony. I also remember that stupid, shitty game last season where we dropped two stupid goals and two stupid points to stupid Stoke last season about this time. I'm actually more worried about this match than I was about any of the last three. Going with a 1-0 Spurs win, and at least one confrontation between Dele and Charlie Adam.
Matthew Pachniuk: Stoke has been poor thus far and Spurs attack is primed for a breakout. Can that floodgate open with a Dier-Wanyama partnership though? Stoke has genuine talent that can change a game on a dime and that is scary, but they also don't instill confidence in their own defense. At some point we see Sisokko take on the Moose role and this leads to multiple ripples in the back of Stoke's net. Spurs 3-1.
Bryan A: Stoke are Stoke and are especially Stoke when they're Stoking in Stoke. Sure, Mark Hughes has them Stoking much less and they have some skillful players, but they can still Stoke up a match when they need to. So, Spurs get Stoked, in Stoke, because Stoke. 1-0 Stoke.
GN Punk: Last time we went to the Britannia Stadium, it was a 4-0 rout even with Eriksen banging one off the crossbar and Dele Alli's epic miss that Eric Dier will never let him forget. No Moose for one more match means another match of probably middling around for 70 minutes before getting a winner late. Stoke do scare me a bit with a solid attacking band, but I'll say the defense holds steady. Spurs 1-0.
Ed F: Stoke made some baby steps towards fixing their biggest area of weakness over the summer in adding Joe Allen and I'm terrified of Wilf Bony, but they still ain't all that. 2-1 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: Stoke, with the likes of Arnautovic and Shaquiri, are making strides as they step further away from the Stoke of old, making them tough competition. It'll be close, but Spurs should be able to handle the task. Tottenham 1-0.
Luke Zimmerman: Here's the thing about Stoke: they aren't great. Of course, that's never stopped Spurs from finding a way to snatch one-point from the jaws of three. I imagine this one will be closer than it should. Heck, Spurs may even trail at some point. I'll go 2-1 to Tottenham, against my better judgement.
Jake Meador: Stoke is easier on the eyes these days but I'm not sure that they're actually a better team. Spurs 2-0 and looking decent for the first time this season.
Alex Greenberg: I still have nightmares about Charlie Adam. His teeth and late tackles on Spurs players will haunt me until my dying days. But he's old now and won't play, so Spurs make it through without any Adam Attacks and Tottenham win 3-1.
Ben Daniels: Stoke were largely excellent last year, but have struggled to get going so far this season—they even resorted to starting Peter Crouch up top last time out. Unluckily for Spurs, they just signed Wilfried Bony and Shaqiri should be back from injury. Luckily for Spurs, we're still better and we should win. 2-0 Spurs.
Brian Meyers: I think we come out of the international break a little sloppy. Kane will stay cold and we will get a lucky goal from a midfielder. Spurs 1-0.
Skipjack: I think Kane, Son, and Sissoko will be too much for Stoke. Much like the heat death of stars will be too much for life throughout the universe. 2-0 Spurs.
Earl of Shoop: Kane and Janssen score. No more talk of scoring droughts or flops. Good players score against less good teams, and Stoke are less good than Spurs, who are much gooder. Stoke are what, 20th at the moment? Sure, it's just a bit early in the season to care about table positions, but Stoke are bad, Spurs are great, Lloris is (probably) back - Spurs 2-0.
Brian Mechanick: I just can't see Harry Kane staying cold much longer. Sissoko comes to play, Jan and Toby go nuts, and give me a 2-0 Spurs win.