Stoke City (Home)
Premier League

Saturday 24th October 2009

With Tottenham winning away from home for fun, it is the home form which will now be tested when Stoke City roll into the Lane on Saturday.

A tough physical game last week resulted in ending the game with ten men, as Jermain Defoe saw red and kicked back at Mokoena before being shown red.  This week's match will be no different, with Stoke City being strong at closing the ball down quickly and try to break quickly with the strength of James Beattie and Ricardo Fuller holding the ball up.  They run at players with the ball well and both are good in the air.  Crosses are usually played into the box to utilise the height of the team, so with Jermain Defoe suspended, the inclusion of Peter Crouch might have two benefits for the Spurs side - both at the front and the back.

Of course, crosses are not always necessary, as Rory Delap's long throws are a potent weapon which Stoke play for, so as well as Crouch, the importance of the central defenders' aerial ability will be tested, so the presence of Heurelho Gomes could be useful in goal after last week's good performance.  His height in coming for the ball and reaching over players might be crucial, as Carlo Cudicini lacks those vital inches.  While Gomes might not get every ball cleanly, he can reach the ball and as long as he doesn't take too many of our own players out (as he did to Corluka at the Britannia Stadium last season), it could be a sensible selection.

Matthew Etherington is a well known face to Spurs supporters and he is bound to get a rough ride from the crowd, who will not have forgotten his response to them just before he left for a bigger club in West Ham United. 

Thomas Sorensen has had a new lease of life at Stoke following an unhappy time at Sunderland.  His experience is vital in marshalling his defence, but he lacks the agility of his younger years, but his positioning makes up for it a little bit.  In reserve, the Potters have Steve Simonsen, who is an experienced stand-in, but one who perhaps lacks the sharpness that regular first team football brings.

In defence, Ryan Shawcross has been winning rave reviews and has been courted by Spurs, among others including his former club Manchester United.  Strong on the ball and in the tackle, he is developing into a very good player.  Stoke will be without Robert Huth, who is serving a three-match ban for clumping Matthew Upson in last week's match.  Andy WIlkinson may be favourite to replace the German, but other options include Leon Cort, Danny Collins and Rory Delap, who has been playing in midfield.  Andy Griffin is a veteran at right back, while another former Man U defender Danny Higginbotham is on the other side of the back four.  One more former Red Devil is Danny Pugh, a defender who has just signed a new five year contract with the club and is often called upon from the bench.

With manager Tony Pulis putting an emphasis on the need to prevent the other side from having time on the ball in midfield, the Stoke engine room contains some athletic players, who have great stamina.  Irishman Glenn Whelan, former Liverpool and Senegal midfielder Salif Diao, ex-Sunderland captain Dean Whitehead, Amdy Faye, Liam Lawrence, Tom Soares, Michael Tonge and new Uruguayan Diego Arismendi will all hassle and hustle the Tottenham players and make sure they are not allowed time nor space to hurt them.  Whitehead, Faye, Delap and Etherington have made up the midfield quartet recently, but Faye and Arismendi might play some part to give the team fresh legs.

Of the other forwards available, former Reading striker Dave Kitson has returned to the Potters after a loan spell at his former club and seems to be settling in better this time, while summer signing Tuncay Sanli, from Middlesbrough, has not been a regular this season, but as we know from last season, he is capable of scoring goals - both simple and out of the blue.

Pulis has developed a method of play which suits the players available to him and while it might not be to everyone's taste, it is effective in what is achieves.  Stoke are better at home than they are away, but having survived comfortably last season, they will no doubt be looking to improve season on season, so picking up more away points might be their aim this season.  For that reason, they will be keen to take something from this game and their formation might feature only one forward in an attempt to swamp the midfield and keep Tottenham bogged down there.  While Spurs are playing well, it might be one game in which they find it hard to break the opposition down, as they found against Birmingham City a few weeks back.

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Stoke City  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Luka Modric (out - broken leg); Giovani dos Santos (out - ankle); Jermain Defoe (out - suspended - 1 of 3 games); Jonathan Woodgate (doubtful - groin); - (-); 

STOKE CITY :  - Abdoulaye Faye (out - back); Mamady Sidibe (doubtful - knee); Robert Huth (out - suspension - 1 of 3 games); Liam Lawrence (out - virus);  


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Tottenham Hotspur   0    Stoke City   1      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 24th October 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,031
Referee :  Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
Stoke City kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Drizzly rain; sunshine in second half
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32  Assou-Ekotto
19  Bassong
39  Woodgate  (20  Dawson 14)
22  Corluka

  7  Lennon
12  Palacios
  6  Huddlestone  (  8  Jenas 71)
21  Kranjcar

15  Crouch
10  Keane (c)  (  9  Pavlyuchenko 61)

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini

  2  Hutton
  3  Bale
16  Naughton

Stoke City :

  1  Simonsen

22  D. Collins
24  Shawcross
25  Amdy Faye (c)
19  Wilkinson

15  Daio     
24  Delap  (  6  Whelan 57       )
18  Whitehead
26  Etherington

  9  Beattie (20  Tuncay 70)
10  Fuller       (  3  Higginbotham 89)

Unused subs: 
  5  Cort
  7  Lawrence
14  Pugh
12  Kitson

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Stoke City
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur


Stoke City

Whelan 86

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  




Stoke City

Fuller (dissent) 30
Whelan (foul) 76
Diao (foul) 83


Match Report : -  
While the Stoke City style of play may be effective for their purposes, it is not to the liking of my taste and from the booing, quite a few supporters who sat near me, who watched Spurs be bored into a 0-1 defeat by some of the most blatant gamesmanship seen in many a long year.

Eighteen minutes had passed when the first instance of time-wasting occurred, to be followed by kicking the ball away, constant dissent to match officials and when all three Tottenham substitutions had been made, some rash challenges which saw Aaron Lennon have to leave the field and leaving Stoke to enjoy the space that ten men left them to score the winner.

It was only three minutes into Jonathan Woodgate's return to the middle of the Spurs defence that he sustained an injury that saw him substituted after 14 minutes, with Michael Dawson coming on.  A long ball to the far post was hit down into the ground by Etherington and the shot deflected off Kranjcar, taking it over Gomes, but Woodgate made a brave clearance off the line with Beattie closing in and they clashed heads before the ball went out for a corner.  Woody staggered off and rejoined play, but it was only temporarily, as Daws came on and did a good job in his place.  Ledley King had not been selected, perhaps with the Arsenal game in mind, but it left another new partnership in the middle of the back four, as Spurs started to build moving forward again.

Stoke were quickly getting two lines of five back behind the ball and Spurs were aiming towards the far post, where they hoped to get Peter Crouch in behind the back.  Unfortunately, not all the crossing was of top quality and when they did, his efforts on goal were kept out one way or another and he had a good game, but an unlucky one.  His first header was looping into the goal just inside the post until Simonsen, a late replacement for Sorensen, who went down ill in the warm-up, used his feet well to get across his goal and push the ball wide.

Kranjcar was coming inside to trouble the Stoke defence and his rasping shot from outside the box dipped just before it reached the Potters' keeper and he had to fall on the parried save to ensure the ball didn't get away from him.  Aaron Lennon was giving the visitors' defence the run around and he picked up the ball on the right and raced across the pitch as he headed for the corner of the penalty area, but quickly stopped, sending two defenders to continue running, before curling a right footer that would have gone in had Simonsen not made another very good save in the 24th minute.  From the corner, Simonsen did well to knock away the second ball back in aimed at Crouch, but it dropped in front of Sebastien Bassong, who volleyed wide from a few yards out beyond the far post.  If only it had fallen to one of our attacking players. 

In the 27th minute, Tottenham came even closer to scoring, with a cross from Lennon on the right finding Crouch's head and his effort was placed over the keeper and seemingly into an empty net, but James Beattie came from nowhere and hooked the ball away before it crossed the line with his left boot.  And still the bad luck dogged Spurs, when, a minute later, as Niko Kranjcar struck a low shot that beat Simonsen this time, but didn't beat the goal-post, as the ball bounced off it and away to safety.

Spurs had dealt well with the low trajectory long-throws of Rory Delap and there had not been another effort direct on goal after Woodgate's clearance.  One of the worries at the run-around was the lack of success in converting the chances made in the first period.

Within the first five minutes of the second half, Tottenham had chances to go ahead.  A sloppy foul, one of many that the over-lenient referee Probert allowed to go unpunished, as well as taking an hour to speak to the Stoke keeper about taking a long time over each goal kick, gave Spurs a dead ball situation in a central possession.  Kranjcar took it and hit the target, unlike Huddlestone and Jenas later, but Simonsen grabbed the ball before Keane pounced.  Then a well worked passing move saw Palacios play Keane in on the right side of the box and he turned to hit a low shot that Simonsen stopped and two defenders managed to get away before Crouch could get to the loose ball in the six yard box.

A warning was handed to Spurs, when a long cross was won in the air by Beattie and he put it wide, but then Tottenham had a chance of their own with another Crouch far post header jointly cleared on the line by the keeper and Beattie, only for the ball to bounce off another visiting defender to fall into Simonsen's arms.  Pavlyuchenko came on for a disappointing Robbie Keane and he worked a yard for himself, but hit his shot over the top and then a few minutes later, the Russian hit one straight at the goalie.

The turning point of the game came when Stoke substitute Whelan had three goes at kicking Lennon as he took the ball back towards his own goal, before succeeding in putting him out of the match and obtaining a yellow card.  There was so much foul play by Stoke that it came as a surprise when Probert eventually booked Diao for the mildest of his four fouls.  Down to ten men and with two players hobbling after picking up kicks following Lennon's departure, the consequences of the lack of bookings and the ability to have a go at a Spurs player, meant that the obvious was coming.  Tuncay manoeuvred around Assou-Ekotto and pulled his shot across the face of goal before a break down the right saw Fuller turn inside and slip pass into the path of Whelan, just inside the right hand corner of the area.  He steered his shot past Gomes and into the far side of the goal to give the Potters a lead with just four minutes left.

Stoke then brought a defender on for a forward and although Spurs piled forward, with Bassong in midfield and Dawson up front, the ball would not sit kindly for our players in the box and when Kranjcar ran across the penalty area and went down under a challenge, there was no interest from the referee, who had barely given one outside the area all game.

It was always going to be a tough game, as Stoke's way is to hustle and give other teams little time to do what they do best.  Sometimes the Tottenham players were knocked off the ball too easily, sometimes they played with little urgency, but there were still enough chances to win the game, but on the day it wasn't to be.  Gomes had little to do in comparison with Simonsen, but with the bulk of possession and opportunities, Tottenham should have won it.

Games like these have always caused us problems.  We still need to learn how to dismantle a packed defence and although we were lacking the guile of Modric, we need to find a way to win such matches without him.

burton coggles


Fan Reaction : -



For Wyart Lane's view of the defeat by Stoke, click here for the Times Online Fanzine Fanzone entry.
Disappointing -- a match we should have won quite easily and one we was expected to win -- made more painful by Arsenal and Man Utd slipping up the next day.

If we really want to be a top four side we should be putting teams like Stoke to the sword.  Even Garth Crooks said the last 10 minutes Stoke outplayed Spurs.

Let's not get carried away by our great start to the season and think we just have to turn up to win these games.  Lick your wounds Spurs; re-group and start again against the Arse next week !



While Stoke play to their strengths, it is their strength which is their strength.  

Look at the size of their players.  But Tottenham were not bright enough to break them down.  The preview was right about teams like this giving us problems, as Bolton and Birmingham had already this season, while Portsmouth also gave us a tough match.

Not every team is going to come and play football like Burnley or West Bromwich Albion before them, as they suffer for their playing to their beliefs.  What anyone who follows Stoke believes, I don't know, but I guess that they get the result they want and don't worry about how it comes.  Perhaps it is the Stoke Way ?

the funky phantom




Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 2 Sunderland 1 Saturday
Burnley 1 Wigan Athletic 3 Saturday
Chelsea 5 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Hull City 0 Portsmouth 0 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Manchester United 0 Sunday
Manchester City 2 Fulham 2 Sunday
West Ham United 2 Arsenal 2 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 3 Everton 2 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 10 8 0 2 24 8 24 +16
2 Manchester United 10 7 1 2 21 11 22 +10
3 Arsenal 9 6 1 2 29 13 19 +16
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 10 6 1 3 21 14 19 +7
5 Liverpool 10 6 0 4 24 13 18 +11
6 Manchester City 9 5 3 1 18 11 18 +7
7 Aston Villa 9 5 2 2 13 8 17 +5
8 Sunderland 10 5 1 4 18 15 16 +3
9 Stoke City 10 4 3 3 9 11 15 -2
10 Wigan Athletic 10 4 1 5 12 17 13 -5
11 Burnley 10 4 0 6 10 22 12 -12
12 Bolton Wanderers 9 3 2 4 14 15 11 -1
13 Fulham 9 3 2 4 10 12 11 -2
14 Everton 9 3 2 4 12 15 11 -3
15 Birmingham City 10 3 1 6 8 12 10 -4
16 Blackburn Rovers 9 3 1 5 11 22 10 -11
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 10 2 3 5 9 16 9 -7
18 Hull City 10 2 2 6 8 22 8 -14
19 West Ham United 9 1 3 5 11 15 6 -4
20 Portsmouth 10 1 1 8 5 15 4 -10


Position before the match :   3rd
Position after the match :   3rd
Position after the weekend :  4th


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