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By Charlie Eccleshare
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Charlie Eccleshare casts his eye over Stoke City as Tottenham visit the Britannia Stadium this afternoon (3pm).
Stoke have enjoyed an encouraging first season under Mark Hughes and need four points from their last three games to secure their highest ever Premier League points tally.
The manager has attempted to change Stoke’s reputation as a long-ball team and has signed players like Marko Arnautovic, Stephen Ireland and Peter Odemwingie, who have added guile and subtlety to the attack.
But Spurs should not be fooled into thinking that this has made Stoke any less solid defensively – they have only conceded 15 league goals at the Britannia all season and have beaten Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United at home.
The Potters also go into today’s match in excellent form, with five wins, two draws and just one defeat from eight games.
Ones to watch…
Spurs will need to keep a close eye on ex-Lilywhite Peter Crouch, who has 10 goals in all competitions.
Like Tottenham, Stoke’s star man is arguably their goalkeeper. Asmir Begovic, who has had another impressive season and attracted interest from Real Madrid.
But the Lilywhites should also be wary of Charlie Adam, whose tackling has sometimes been just as dangerous as his set pieces.
The midfielder, who has been sent off twice against Spurs, injured Gareth Bale twice during the Welshman’s time with Tottenham, and he also put Paulinho out of action for five weeks in December. The subsequent abuse prompted Adam to tweet: “I don’t and never have had anything against Spurs”.
Tottenham have a good recent record against the Potters, with just one defeat in the last nine meetings.
Spurs fans may reflect wistfully on a superlative Bale brace in a 2-1 away victory in August 2010, including a memorable volley at shoulder height.
Last season, the sides drew 0-0 at the Lane while Tottenham won 2-1 at the Britannia in the penultimate game of the season, with Clint Dempsey equalising before a late Emmanuel Adebayor winner.
In December, the Lilywhites ran out 3-0 winners at the Lane with goals from Roberto Soldado, Mousa Dembele and Aaron Lennon.
Stoke are tough to beat at home, but Spurs could exploit their lack of pace defensively – 1-1.