Stoke City v Tottenham: Premier League preview
IT HAS been an unusually quiet summer on the transfer front and the start of the Premier League season did little to persuade clubs to part with their cash. It certainly wasn t a good weekend for debutants...
PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW BY BEN PEARCE
Stoke City v Tottenham, Saturday 3pm
IT HAS been an unusually quiet summer on the transfer front and the start of the Premier League season did little to persuade clubs to part with their cash. It certainly wasn't a good weekend for debutants.
Manchester City's new boys did little to justify their exorbitant fees (and wages) and, at Anfield, Liverpool's Joe Cole and Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny were both dismissed.
Meanwhile, at Wolves' Molineux, �8million man Kenwyne Jones limped off just 10 minutes after making his bow for Stoke City, having just become the club's record signing.
Initially it was feared that the Trinidad & Tobago international would be ruled out for months, but scans revealed only minor ankle ligament damage.
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The physical frontman is likely to miss Saturday's clash with Spurs, but Tony Pulis expects him to return in "days, not weeks or months".
Jones had only completed his move from Sunderland two days previously, having apparently taken a wage cut to facilitate his switch to the Britannia Stadium. However, Harry Redknapp seems to know more about the deal.
"It was lovely to see Kenwyne Jones taking a wage cut, I saw Tony saying he's taken a wage cut," said Redknapp last week, with more than a hint of sarcasm. "I thought that was really lovely of him. I know Sunderland paid him �2million to go but it was still really nice of him. You've got to admire these boys haven't you."
Jones has replaced James Beattie, who has moved to Scotland to join Rangers, and he made his debut against Wolves alongside Ricardo Fuller.
That is likely to be Pulis' first-choice strike force, particularly as the City boss appears to have mixed feelings about his reserves.
Mamady Sidibe replaced Jones on Saturday, but the substitute suffered the humiliation of being substituted himself five minutes after half-time as Tuncay entered the fray. Jones may have made all the headlines in the last week but there has been little other movement in the Potteries, and the hosts will have a familiar line-up in their first home fixture of the new campaign.
Thomas Sorensen will start in goal ahead of No2 Asmir Begovic, the ex-Portsmouth keeper who pulled out of a move to Spurs at the 11th hour back in January.
Tottenham's route to goal will be blocked by the giant quartet of Abdoulaye Faye, Ryan Shawcross, Danny Higginbotham and Robert Huth, whose attempts to subdue Gareth Bale in the same fixture last season had various percentages of legality.
Glenn Whelan will line up in the centre of midfield alongside Dean Whitehead, another former Sunderland man, who was sent off when the sides last met at the Britannia in March.
Meanwhile, on the flanks, ex-Spurs winger Matthew Etherington will provide pace on the left, while Rory Delap will offer his usual threat from throw-ins.
City demand respect at the Britannia Stadium and, having eliminated Arsenal and Manchester City from the FA Cup last season as well as holding City, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton in the league, they have proved their ability to frustrate their supposed superiors - particularly if their visitors are ill-prepared or unfocused.
Spurs may well fall into that category this weekend as they travel north in between their all-important European play-off ties. However, the Lilywhites won this fixture last season, and Stoke's home form is not quite as daunting as it sometimes seems.
City only won seven of their 19 home games last season and they lost six, taking 27 points from a possible 57 - a relatively ordinary total compared to Blackburn Rovers, who picked up 36 points at Ewood Park, Fulham (36) and Sunderland (34), let alone the top sides in the league.
Prediction: It took a massive effort for Spurs to win this fixture against 10 men last season and, with European distractions, this could be a draw: 1-1.