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Premier League Preview: Stoke City – Tottenham Hotspur

By Richard Parry

Eidur Gudjohnsen of Tottenham celebrates scoring the first goal with team mate Niko Kranjcar during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Tottenham(Getty Images) gig
Stoke City welcome a weakened Tottenham Hotspur side to the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, in the knowledge that Harry Redknapp’s side will have one eye firmly fixed on their midweek Champions League tie against Young Boys.

Tony Pulis will see this as an ideal time to face the boys from White Hart Lane, as the Potters target a win that would kick-start their season, after a disappointing 2-1 opening day defeat at Wolves.

As for Spurs, after 45 minutes last Saturday you could see why Redknapp refuses to rule his side out of the title race, as they tore Manchester City to shreds. They should have been at least three goals up at the interval, and without the heroics of Joe Hart in the City goal, they would have been.

At full-time, the goalless draw brought mixed emotions for the fans. On the one hand it was two points lost, but that very fact was encouraging – they clearly outplayed the big summer spenders.

An away trip to Stoke between two Champions League qualifiers hardly looked ideal when fixture lists were released; and after the shambolic first-half performance against Young Boys in midweek, which saw Spurs concede three goals in the space of 30 minutes, the contest becomes even more daunting.

Spurs are set to be without Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe on Saturday, after both were forced off in Switzerland through injury.

Clearly, Spurs have a squad strong enough to cope with such situations, but Redknapp will be wearing of suffering more casualties against a side who can play on the parameters of fairness and vigour. And this fixture has a habit of shaping Spurs’ season.


Red face disgrace | Redknapp was stunned by Spurs first-half midweek meltdown


Stoking the fires of despair

Other than Spurs' 1-0 away victory last season, the forgotten step in their astonishing end of season run, Stoke have been a catalyst for Spurs before.

An away trip to Stoke City in 2008, just four days before a Europa League clash with Udinese, set Juande Ramos on a collision course with his P45.

Spurs suffered a 2-1 defeat at the Britannia; a match in which Spurs went down to nine men following the dismissals of Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson, while Vedran Corluka was knocked unconscious by a flapping Heurelho Gomes. Then came the European night, and Spurs crashed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Italian, with yet another player seeing red, Jamie O’Hara.

Now going into Saturday’s clash, Redknapp’s job is a million miles away from being under threat, such were his achievements last season, but the similarities are there for all to see.

Should Spurs lose at Stoke — a feasible outcome, the Potters are no pushovers — and then fail to overturn their shock 3-2 defeat by Young Boys and Tottenham miss out on the group stages of the Champions League, then what of ‘Sir Arry’?

It’s a funny old game.


Happy Potters

Tony Pulis is quietly going about reshaping his side into a side that can not only hold their own in the top flight of English football, but also play a bit as a well.

He has shifted the deadwood and the uninspired from the club, with the likes of James Beattie heading to Scotland, and brought in Kenwyne Jones from Sunderland, for a club record £8 million – a player who wanted to be a part of the Stoke setup so much he was willing to take a pay cut.

Unfortunately for the home side, the aforementioned acquisition is set to be unavailable for Saturday’s match with an ankle injury; but such is the attitude and team spirit at the Britannia, they’ll merely roll up their sleeves and carry on.


Team News

Stoke City


Tony Pulis could be without two of first-team players on Saturday, with Republic of Ireland international Liam Lawrence unavailable while Jones is struggling to be fit in time.

The midfielder is ruled out with a groin strain, and it is unclear when he will be make a comeback, while Jones’ ankle problem yet to fully heal, although his manager has insisted that he has an ‘outside chance’ of featuring.

Possible starting XI: Sorensen; Higginbotham, Huth, Shawcross, Faye; Whelan, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington; Tuncay Sanli, Fuller.


Tottenham

Harry Redknapp’s main concerns surround Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe, who were both replaced during the midweek defeat to Young Boys.

Both suffering with hamstring injuries, they’ll join O’Hara (back), David Bentley (ankle) and Jonathan Woodgate (groin) on the sidelines.


Possible Starting XI: Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Huddlestone, Bale; Keane, Crouch.


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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
29Thomas SørensenGoalkeeper
5Danny CollinsDefender
17Ryan ShawcrossDefender
4Robert HuthDefender
25Abdoulaye FayeDefender
6Glenn WhelanMidfielder
18Dean WhiteheadMidfielder
24Rory DelapMidfielder
26Matthew EtheringtonMidfielder
10Ricardo FullerStriker
19Jonathan WaltersStriker
1Asmir BegovicGoalkeeper
28Andy WilkinsonDefender
-Danny PughMidfielder
23Michael TongeMidfielder
11Mamady SidibeStriker
17Tuncay ŞanlıMidfielder
1GomesGoalkeeper
22Vedran CorlukaDefender
20Michael DawsonDefender
4Younes KaboulDefender
32Benoit Assou-EkottoDefender
7Aaron LennonMidfielder
8Jermaine JenasMidfielder
8Tom HuddlestoneMidfielder
8W. PalaciosMidfielder
11Gareth BaleMidfielder
25Peter CrouchStriker
26Ben AlnwickGoalkeeper
16Kyle NaughtonDefender
5S. BassongDefender
3Danny RoseMidfielder
14Jake LivermoreMidfielder
2Kyle WalkerDefender
Probable Lineups
Thomas Sørensen 29
Danny Collins 5
Ryan Shawcross 17
Robert Huth 4
Abdoulaye Faye 25
Glenn Whelan 6
Dean Whitehead 18
Rory Delap 24
Matthew Etherington 26
Ricardo Fuller 10
Jonathan Walters 19
Gomes 1
Vedran Corluka 22
Michael Dawson 20
Younes Kaboul 4
Benoit Assou-Ekotto 32
Aaron Lennon 7
Jermaine Jenas 8
Tom Huddlestone 8
W. Palacios 8
Gareth Bale 11
Peter Crouch 25
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