Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City
If you were looking for a name for this match it could easily be called the “redemption derby” after both teams earned very disappointing results in their last English Premier League matches.
It was the first match for Tottenham Hotspur after taking the caretaker tag off of Tim Sherwood and signing him to an 18-month contract, but it was not the result they wanted being held to a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Tottenham is having a very strange season in the league as they are playing very good football on the road, but they are struggling mightily at White Hart Lane.
Away from home Spurs have amassed a record of 6-1-2 compared to their mark of 3-3-3 in their friendly confines. A look at their fixtures so far show why they have the marks that they do. The road wins for Spurs have come at Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, Aston Villa, Fulham, Sunderland and Southampton. Southampton is the only club of those six that is ranked in the top ten while — save for Aston Villa — the other four are ranked in the bottom 5.
The other glaring mark that is cause for concern for Tottenham supporters is their record against the clubs that currently rank above them in the Premier League standings, Spurs is currently is eighth position only three points off of a Europa League place. Against the seven clubs ahead of them, though, they have zero wins, three draws and four losses with a minus-13 goal differential.
Stoke City was riding a wave of good results in the league entering their Boxing Day match at St. James Park with Newcastle United having been unbeaten in their last four league matches. The wheels on that train came off in a major way during the match, though, which ended as a 5-1 defeat and saw Stoke have two players and their manager sent off.
The red cards dealt a major blow to the already depleted defense of the Potters who were already missing goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and center back Robert Huth to injury; now they will be without defensive utility player Marc Wilson and defensive midfielder Glenn Whelan in a match that they will need to get a result in as eight of their next ten league matches are against teams currently in 11th place or better including big home matches with Everton and Liverpool to start this critical stretch of matches.
It will be very interesting to see the lineups for this match since both clubs played two days earlier and both clubs have arguably bigger matches two days later on New Years Day with Stoke hosting Everton and Tottenham playing at Manchester United. I expect to see most of the regulars get the day off or see substitute roles with not much offense being generated.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 0, Stoke City 0