Spurs travel to the Britannia Stadium this Saturday for a Premier League meeting with Stoke City. Tim Sherwood will be looking to build on last weeks win at Fulham, a decent result but an unconvincing performance. With persistent rumours that the Spurs coach will be replaced in the summer, these last three winnable games provide a chance for Sherwood to prove his ability, with a view to finding another management position.
Tottenham can also cement sixth place to guarantee Europa League football next year. Some cynics would suggest missing out on this competition may be a positive – Liverpool’s fantastic performances in the league this year have shown the benefit of a lack of European distractions. On balance, I would still like Spurs to be in Europe, especially as the winners of next seasons competition will earn a Champions League place.
Stoke have had a successful season by their standards, and sit comfortably in mid-table. Mark Hughes, who took over in the summer, has rebuilt his reputation after a stormy spell at QPR. Following on from the seven year reign of Tony Pulis was never going to be easy, but he has coped well.
The midlands club are in good form, with only one loss in their last eight games, a 3-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge. In that run they have picked up 17 points from a possible 24, including wins against Newcastle, West Ham and Arsenal.
Hughes has subtly changed the team’s style of play. After regularly featuring at the bottom of the possession and pass success tables under Pulis – his Palace team currently sit bottom of both – they now are now mid-table. However, he has retained the aerial prowess and aggression. The potters have committed the most fouls in the league, sit fourth in tackles and are comfortably top in aerials duels won.
Stoke normally line up in a 4-2-3-1, with Spurs old boy Peter Crouch as the spearhead of their attack. The tall front-man is their top scorer in the league with eight goals, with five assists. They like to get in wide positions and put crosses into the box, so Tottenham’s centre backs will have to be strong in the air.
Odemwingie and Anautovic pose a threat going forward, while Charlie Adam will worry Spurs after a history of disgraceful tackles against us, the most recent of which saw Paulinho sidelined for several matches. After that incident, serial social media user, Sandro, took to Instagram and Facebook to send the message: ‘Charlie Adams – THE BEAST IS WATCHING YOU’. There are even suggestions that Spurs players may refuse to shake the midfielder’s hand in the prematch lineups.
Stoke will be without Etherington and Huth, while Pieters has been suffering from an illness. Spurs will miss long term injury victims Walker and Lamela. The Argentine has apparently recovered from his back problems but is still not match fit. There is a remote chance he may make an appearance before the season end, which would be important, both for his confidence and the morale of the supporters; even if it is just a cameo appearance as a substitute.
Vertonghen and Dawson may return, while Capoue is back in training. The big Frenchman is another player I would like to see back in the side. He has had a turbulent start to his career at White Hart Lane but I think he could be a real asset. At his best he has the destructive power of Sandro but much better ball skills and distribution, important in a modern deep lying midfield player.
It will be interesting to see if Sandro returns to the squad after last weeks twitter controversy. I would keep Harry Kane and Adebayor up front, but pick a more defensive midfielder to partner Eriksen in the centre – maybe Dembele, Bentaleb or even the young Veljkovic. Playing 4-4-2 with a core of Chadli and Paulinho is far too open away from home.
I would drop Rose and put Fryers at left back. If fit, Dawson’s heading ability would be useful against Peter Crouch. Lennon has improved in the last two games, and was involved in creating goals in both matches, so has finally justified his place in the side.
Here’s my team:
Would you play this team? Please leave your comments in the section below.