Tag Archives: Stoke City

Our wait for a win is over! Tottenham 3 Stoke City 2

The weather was bright and sunny in North London yesterday and it matched our first half performance. After the disappointment of Madrid this was the way we wanted to perform and had it not been for two moments of individual excellence from Stoke we would have run in at half time three up and on our way to an impressive victory.

It was only after Etherington’s superb run down the left around the back and firing home that we looked shocked and unsure for a few minutes but then we conspired to score a terrific third goal from Tom Huddlestone’s perfect cross.

Along with Tom, Younes Kaboul and Pav returned to the starting line up and it was Pav who turned provider for our first two goals reacting quickly to allow us to catch Stoke cold with a short corner and perfect cross and then playing in Modric to shoot through the keepers legs for our second. 

At that point we were so dominant that it looked like we should add more goals and even at 3-1 we were playing it around with much confidence until Bale allowed himself to be robbed resulting in Jones hitting an unstoppable shot into the top corner from the resulting break. 

Five goals in an excellent first half but as Stoke got two of them Tony Pulis was able to reorganise his team at half time and the second half became somewhat nervy as we failed to add to our total. We did have the ball in the net and it looked like a lot of the goals Stoke score so it may well have been a tough decision on us to rule it out. 

They too had chances. Walters hit a post when it looked easier to score but the cross had some power and Gomes may have got a touch. He certainly got a touch on Jones second pile driver and we ended the match defending valiantly with nearly everyone in our box. 

Ekotto was forced off close to the end with a knock and was replaced by Gallas. Despite being left back for Chelsea for a period he played right back and Corluka switched across. Having won a free kick Charlie floated it right out of play and from the resulting throw Stoke attacked and won not one but two free kicks just outside our box.

Us Spurs fans watching the Milan game heard Ray Wilkins telling us time and time again “stay on your feet” and “keep the ball”. As the game closed out we did neither well and most of us would not have been surprised had we conceded a late goal.

Jones had a tough first half in the air against Dawson but more success in the second against Kaboul and with Fuller coming on late we were put under more pressure. Unfortunately our failure to add more goals left us in this vulnerable spot and by the final whistle we were just delighted to have won three points once more.

Having said that it was not from want of trying and we had some decent interplay amongst our midfield and attack in the second period but blockers were more in evidence and the first half space no longer existed.  After a disappointing performance Modric was back on song and controlled much of the midfield.

Van Der Vaart too was lively but like Modric took a roving role and consequently Charlie had a lot of work to do out on the right. As a consequence Tommy was on occasions left to playing short balls to Rafa as the game went on rather than looking to the sort of expansive passes we saw from him early doors which helped open up Stoke. 

Having said that we did see a full 90 minutes out of Rafa which was pleasing though I would prefer to see him holding a wider position if he replaces Lennon to allow Tom to get balls out to him so that he could hurt them from a wide position. With us unable to add to our total the last 20 minutes became a little worrying and as I said earlier we ended up hanging in whilst willing the referee to blow up.     

Having not won for a six games it was pleasing to hear the victory anthem blast out at the final whistle and whilst the goal difference was only one it is the points that count for us till the end of the season. So we wait to see if Liverpool can do us a favour and defeat Manchester City – its not often we support teams in red!        

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Let’s not potter about: Spurs V Stoke preview

It has always been said that Champions League teams are vulnerable on the Saturday after a midweek match and I for one have bad feelings about today. Recent form has been patchy particularly in front of goal and with the amount of injuries we have in the squad keeping players off the pitch plus some of those available not looking to be at full fitness a visit from Stoke on the back of a hiding is probably the last thing we need.

Its so easy to say “pick yourselves up and go out and win the next game” but when you are low on energy its much harder. When we were playing really well earlier in the season the confidence that produced helped us through the next game but it’s not so easy now and I fancy the crowd have an important role to play today in getting behind the team particularly of it doesn’t start so well with Stoke’s spoiling tactics. 

In these games an early goal is vitally important to make them come out and play. If we can achieve that we may avoid for example, minutes being run of the clock every time they win a throw in or dead ball situation. The quality of their tackling and dead ball tactics also leave a lot to be desired in my opinion. 

Shawcross gets a lot of credit in the Potteries but for me its nearly a foul every time he goes near an opponent, Huth reminds me of Nat Lofthouse when he attacks a dead ball situation taking everything in his path into the net and they added Carew to their ranks which adds to the pain of defending against them. Certainly we will need to decide our defensive tactics for this afternoon and then stick to them if we wish to keep a clean sheet.  

But there could be some good news on the horizon. I saw on Sky Sports News last night a suggestion that Younes Kaboul could be fit to return and if that were the case he might well slip in at right back adding some extra aerial ability to thwart the Stoke offensive. Maybe this is also the match to put Tom Huddlestone back into the team after his long absence to try and unlock them with some of his longer passes. 

We also know Gallas has been struggling for a couple of weeks with a knee injury. If Kaboul is available I would be tempted to put Gallas on the bench for some rest and play Bassong alongside Dawson. I’ve noticed that whilst Bill is tremendous on the deck he does not win as many balls as I would have expected in the air and with Stoke’s height Bassong might prove a better option allowing the rest to give Gallas better fitness for some of the top four games on the horizon.   

Much has been said about Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon’s nights on Tuesday. If fit Lennon will undoubtedly return to the team but maybe better to leave him out and get him fully fit for his next outing. Crouch may well be on the bench though once again with his height he may be needed to help out in defensive situations.  If he does not feature that may be another reason for Tommy to come back into the team.

If he does whose place does he take? Sandro has done particularly well in recent weeks and would be unfortunate to be dropped. Luka Modric had a poor game on Tuesday but maybe because he was overrun immediately because Madrid recognised his threat and he has been our talisman this season. It therefore depends on Bale’s fitness and whilst he may still not be properly match fit only more games are going to put him into that position. 

And so to Van Der Vaart. It would be nice to see a full 90 minutes or him leaving the pitch with the game won. I fancy he will play in Lennon’s spot today but if not he needs to be more advanced up the pitch as by not doing so it leaves us with only one man up front. Who that other man should be is a difficult question. Pav likes to play a deeper role so that leaves no one up front and Defoe has been unlucky in front of goal too often since his return. An early goal would settle him down but will he be able to take it?

It’s difficult to predict a side with all these options but here goes: 

                          Gomes

     Kaboul    Dawson    Bassong    Ekotto

Van Der Vaart     Sandro     Modric       Bale

             Defoe                Crouch 

Prediction: We need a win that’s for sure and 2-0 would be nice. Tough ask but achievable if we set about them early.

Bale strikes, Crouch blocks as Spurs hold on. Stoke 1 Tottenham 2

As I thought Harry didn’t line up as I suggested but he did make changes bringing in Kaboul for Bassong and adding Jenas into midfield leaving Kranjcar on the bench. I’d suggested that we leave Corluka and Ekotto out following the performance in midweek but praise where praise is due both were very good in a first half performance that offered us the opportunity to put Stoke to the sword and dead and buried for the second half.

Unfortunately Jenas, the architect of a good move with Bale on the left, was unable to bundle the ball into the net after Sorensen saved his first effort and momentum saw him passing the ball as it popped up a second time.  So how did Jenas play? I thought it was a decent performance for whilst those annoying return balls to the centre back were still there on occasions he did hit some attacking options and had Bale chipped the keeper for his hat trick Spurs would have scored two astonishingly good goals in one game.

Despite conceding a poor equaliser from a corner the first half talked more about how Spurs took to playing in a new formation. I’m not sure Crouch is robust enough to do it week in week out but with Lennon and Bale offering options from the flanks in terms of crosses we managed to play really well in the first period. Tom Huddlestone was good at spreading the play and Dawson and Kaboul looked pretty comfortable with super support from the full backs.

Without the injuries I doubt we would have tried out 4-5-1 and had we been 4-4-2 I think that we may not have won the game and probably got a draw at best. The extra man in midfield did us well and it was noticeable that Palacios was not being asked to thrash about all over the place to put in challenges. Predictably he did pick up a yellow card but in trying to win back a ball he’d overrun rather than sliding in after arriving from distance. There may be other away games when we should consider this formation particularly with Sandro now arriving.    

The second half was somewhat different. As I’d expected the Stoke bombardment took place and I was left thinking two things about them as a side. Tuncay caused havoc so why does he not start and how did Shawcross manage to survive so long without a yellow card? Whitehead was booked immediately and his only defence was “come on ref Huth and Shawcross foul every time the ball is near and you let them off”.  

In the end we survived. Gomes looked uncomfortable and made some poor decisions which could have caused us to concede. Punching off Daws head allowed Shawcross a relatively easy shot and Tuncay should have hit the target with a free header. He did though make some decent saves during the game when required which will give him confidence. Having said that we held out and with Bale having the aforementioned chip saved and Lennon getting the ball trapped under his feet when running clear in open play we had opportunities to put them under more pressure.

So was the Crouch block a goal? From the camera angle I could not say it was all over the line and so it’s not conclusive. Harry says it was in but that Huth had committed a foul so justice is done but I can’t quite agree as Chris Foy should have blown for a foul if it was committed. Huth blocked Gomes all afternoon in a Jack Charlton like way so we need to be prepared to counter that with some support for our keeper.

What we know is play to the whistle and we did with a clearance and danger over. In the past we would probably have stopped playing and allowed them to get it in so well done to us for being professional. No one has congratulated Crouchy for getting down so low so quickly so well done Peter you earned us two points!

Finally our goals. Both started by Lennon and finished by Bale. The first a painful smack in the face the second one of the best volleys you’ll see. These three points will loom large at the end of the season and congratulations go to all the players for keeping going during a tough second half.

And so onwards to Wednesday night and the return of the Young Boys to determine whether we go Champions or Europa League. This game is on grass so let’s show them what we can do.

Come on you Spurs!