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22 December 2012
• White Hart Lane, London
Referee: L. Mason
• Attendance: 35702
90' + 5'
FULL TIME! All over and it finishes Tottenham 0-0 Stoke. Frustration for the hosts who just could not find a way past a determined Potters team. Spurs drop down to fifth while Stoke are just five points behind in eighth.
90' + 4'
Walters is booked for time-wasting as Stoke look to cling onto a precious point. Time rapidly running out for Spurs at White Hart Lane.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Jonathan Walters
90' + 1'
Into FOUR minutes of added time on here and it's all Spurs. Sigurdsson is the latest to go close but his superb header is saved by Begovic.
Bale goes tumbling in the box! The Welshman is played in by Adebayor but Jerome is there with a challenge which leaves Bale on the turf. No penalty says the referee.
Chance for Spurs! Defoe is fouled on the edge of the box and the hosts have a free kick. Up steps Bale but his effort is deflected wide for a corner.
Scott Parker comes on for the tired Dembele, but apart from freeing up more creative players, throwing on a holding midfielder will hardly enable Spurs to go gung ho.
In truth, the hosts have lacked dynamism today. There has been no real pace, no cutting edge and nothing to suggest they are ready for a Champions League place. Perhaps things could be different for AVB's side when Bale returns to peak fitness, but that's quite an 'if'.
Sigurdsson's first real action - a corner - finds its way (you guessed it) straight into Begovic's arms once more.
The last throw of the dice from AVB as Gylfi Sigurdsson enters the fray. Spurs have 10 minutes to score a winner if they want to finish the day in third place.
Yellow Card Steven N'Zonzi
Geoff Cameron and Stephen Nzonzi get their names written into the book, with Stoke now having four players on cautions. There has certainly not been a shortage of yellow cards today.
The resultant free kick is hit by Walker, but straight into the hands of Begovic once again. Both keepers are now getting more into the game, but more collecting lifeless crosses rather than stopping ferocious shots.
Yellow Card Geoff Cameron
Bale fires a curling shot at goal straight down the other end, but it is no trouble for the onlooking Begovic.
Stoke push forward and have a cross blocked; can they snatch a win here?
In sending on more attackers, the away side have interestingly seemed to slow the game down. The hosts remain in control of the lion's share of possession, but have been unable to do anything of note with the ball for quite some time now.
The chance of regaining third spot looks to be slipping away for the home side, but all it takes is one goal...
Huth launches a robust last-ditch challenge to prevent a certain shot on target for the visitors.
And he arrives... Crouch comes on against his former club and Pulis now appears to have changed the visitors' shape to a 4-3-3.
Spurs fans may be beginning to fear a 0-0 draw here... Stoke have, after all, collected eight clean sheets and drawn nine games this season.
Pulis introduces Cameron Jerome in place of Jones, leaving Peter Crouch on the bench. For now...
Yellow Card Dean Whitehead
Things are livening up in the middle of the park here - but still no real action in the final third. Vertonghen is wrestled to the ground by Dean Whitehead, who has only just come on...
It is all Spurs at the moment as the home side win their fifth corner of the game. Significantly, that is now more than the visitors - but goal-wise, they have all still come to nothing.
Defoe has a shot deflected wide and out for a corner, but the visitors are more than a match for it once more.
Jones is given offside for the visitors as they look to break out of their current defensive groove.
The visitors, meanwhile, have a chance of their own after superb work down the right-hand side. But Ryan Shotton appeared to misplace his shooting boots as he fired a weak hit straight into Lloris' grateful gloves.
Still, Spurs are preferring the aerial route, which is questionable against any Pulis side.
CHANCE! Lennon whips a cross into the box and Bale leaps high into the air to meet it, heading just wide. The pair have evidently switched wings and are causing all sorts of problems for the visitors now.
Does Villas-Boas need to change anything here? His side are huffing and puffing, but the Stoke house remains unhinged at present.
Etherington plays a free kick in from the left but Shawcross heads way over - the centre-half is yet to open his goalscoring account this season.
Vertonghen cuts inside and has two shots blocked by defenders positioned outside the danger area, while Defoe attempts to pass across the box but is denied by yet more solid defending from the away side.
Etherington does a Bale and whips a threatening left to right cross into the path of... well, there's no one there.
Nothing of note so far in this second half as Defoe fires over from outside the box. This 45 has continued in the same fashion as the first, though - Spurs on the attack and in control.
Yellow Card Andy Wilkinson
And Tottenham get the action restarted here in north London as both sides re-emerge unchanged from the first 45.
The visitors will have Spurs just where they want them, but can AVB inspire an energetic second half for the home side? Bale has been lively, Vertonghen even livelier... if Defoe and Adebayor can just see more of the ball, that Stoke back line may just be breached. Join us for more when the second half resumes.
And it's HALF-TIME here at White Hart Lane. A 45-minute period of Spurs dominance intermittently peppered with spurts of imagination from Tony Pulis' Potters has ended all-square. Anyone with a bet on for less than 2.5 goals being scored today - well played.
Dembele fires a shot just off target as two minutes of added time are announced here in north London.
Anticipation amongst the White Hart Lane faithful is rising...
It's a frantic finish to this first half, which could still have life (and even goals) in it yet. The hosts are enjoying the lion's share of possession but are still being kept at bay by a defence that has conceded only 13 goals so far this campaign.
Defoe gets his first strike of the game in, but it won't be his best this season as it fizzes out for a goal kick.
Huth attacks the corner but to no avail, and Walters is penalised for his overt aggression in attempting to win the ball back for the away side.
A series of corners for the visitors now, either side of an Adebayor foul on Nzonzi.
Another left to right ball from Bale is this time met by Adebayor, but the Togolese forward is unable to direct his header towards goal. The home side are knocking on the door, however, and it seems but a matter of time before they open their account.
It's just a thought... but there might be some value to playing Bale through the middle in a game like this, especially with Vertonghen running the shift down that left side, anyway.
A corner for Spurs now as Bale sends an absolute stinger of a cross into the box and Shawcross does his utmost to clear it behind on the stretch.
The hosts are still in full control, but their first shot of the game - which says a lot after 30 full minutes of play - is a weak Vertonghen strike that wouldn't have hurt a fly, let alone trouble Asmir Begovic. Vertonghen, however, has looked like Spurs' biggest threat today.
Yellow Card Jan Vertonghen
Referee Lee Mason has booked Vertonghen, who has otherwise had a productive first half so far.
Shock horror as the visitors enter the Spurs half, but Jonathan Walters hits a cross way off target, resulting in a goal kick to the home side. One questions who Walters was aiming for when he appeared to be the only Stoke shirt for 30 yards.
The hosts are now well on top, controlling possession and dictating the game. But, as Bale sees the ball trickle off for a goal kick, the question of penetrating the Stoke back line still remains.
Kyle Walker sends a curling free kick in from the right-hand side, but again there is no one there to meet it. The home side have clearly identified looped crosses as a way to break through the Stoke defence, but so far it has bore them no fruit.
The hosts are getting a lot of joy down that left-hand side as Vertonghen whips yet another ball into the box, with Adebayor this time failing to get on the end of it.
Jan Vertonghen darts towards the edge of the area and sends a pacy cross into the area, but Defoe can't get on the end of it, meaning there has only been one shot on goal after 20 minutes of action.
The possession stats have evened out now, but in terms of clear-cut chances, it's the visitors who have had the most to write home about.
It's fair to say the game has come to life after that spurt of attacking movement, but will either side capitalise?
End-to-end stuff now as the visitors hit back on the break, whipping in a cross of their own, but no one can get on the end of it.
A first real chance for Spurs as Bale storms down the left, showing just what he's all about to whip a cross in to the near post. It's cleared but presented a breakthrough threat nonetheless.
No clear-cut chances so far at White Hart Lane, however, and Mousa Dembele is now down on the turf after a clash with Nzonzi.
In fact, with 63% possession, one might go as far as saying the visitors are the dominant side here.
Etherington whips in another corner but it is dealt with calmly by the Spurs defence. It's been a calm, slow game so far - just how Stoke like it.
Yellow Card Sandro
The visitors have had a firm footing early on here and refuse to be intimidated by their north London opponents, who could climb to as high as third with a win today.
The game's first corner falls to the visitors as Sandro hooks the ball behind.
The home side are lining up with a bog-standard 4-4-2 today with Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe providing the threat up front. Stoke have gone for a similar shape and will hope to use the aerial threat of Jones - who scored his first goal in 28 Premier League matches last weekend.
CHANCE! Kenwyne Jones comes close as it is the visitors who have the first chance of the game.
The visitors' team news for you: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Shotton, Whelan, Nzonzi, Etherington, Walters and Jones start, while Sorensen, Upson, Palacios, Whitehead, Kightly, Jerome and Crouch form the Stoke bench.
Gareth Bale makes a welcome return for Spurs today, with Scott Parker also on the bench. The hosts' starting line-up for you: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele, Bale, Defoe Adebayor. Subs: Friedel, Naughton, Gallas, Livermore, Sigurdsson, Townsend, Parker.
The hosts come into today's encounter having won four of their last five and all three of their last home games. The visitors, however, are unbeaten in seven and have the best defence in the Premier League.
Greetings all and welcome to Goal.com's LIVE! play-by-play commentary of Tottenham Stoke at White Hart Lane. I'm Tim Poole and I'll be bringing you today's action.
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