Saturday’s clash between Stoke and Tottenham Hotspur sees two teams at the opposite ends of the spectrum, both in league position and form. Stoke currently sit in 19th place, drawing two and losing four of their last six. This is in stark contrast with Spurs, who have won all six, remaining the only team in the league unbeaten in 2018. If form doesn’t favour Stoke, neither does history.
Spurs have made light work of Stoke in recent years, scoring a staggering 19 goals in the last four encounters, conceding only one. History goes out the window, however, when there is this much at stake. Stoke lie three points from safety with six games remaining. Each game is now a cup final with survival being the prize. Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, will look to build on a vital win at Stamford Bridge and cement their top four place over the coming weeks. Nothing short of a win is good enough for either team.
Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur: The Tactics
Tottenham will head into the weekend full of confidence after dismantling Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Dele Alli will be keen to push on after grabbing two goals. In addition, Kane will view this as an excellent opportunity to reduce the gap with Salah in the running for the Golden Boot. As shown by last years end to the season, Spurs will give 100% until the last kick of the season.
The tactics will not change much going into this game. Spurs will look to be quick off the mark, be fluid in possession and tight at the back. Pochettino will demand a fast start. An early goal could quickly knock the wind out of Stoke’s sails. Likewise, early pressure from Stoke will encourage the fans and the Stoke players alike. Expect a fast start and plenty of possession.
Stoke manager Paul Lambert faces a difficult tactical decision regarding Stoke’s approach to the game. A team in Stoke’s position would generally shut up shop against one of the bigger teams, with a draw good enough and a win a bonus. However, after conceding nine in the last six, scoring only three, perhaps a different approach is needed. Stoke have only three remaining home games, including Saturday’s fixture. Stoke have picked up a total of eight points on the road this season, meaning these last home games are vital. The fans will most certainly be expecting more than simply sitting back, before eventually getting rolled over. Lambert will be wary of being sliced open if Stoke try to match Spurs. He will most likely flood the midfield, press high and make it as scrappy an affair as possible.
Harry Winks is reportedly the only player unavailable for selection. Toby Alderweireld’s fitness is also in question. Recent absences have increased the surrounding transfer speculation. If he is in the squad, it will likely be on the bench. Harry Kane’s remarkably quick return hands Pochettino a major boost. Having been in such good form since his injury, it will be interesting to see who misses out on a starting place.
Stoke missed several key players for their trip to the Emirates last weekend. The likes of Maxim Choupo-Moting and Kurt Zouma both missed out. Choupo-Moting remains sidelined, while Zouma and Mame Douf face late fitness tests. This could be a real blow for Stoke, who are currently extremely reliant on Shaqiri for goals. Choupo-Moting is the only other player to have scored in the league since mid-January.
Spurs should be far too strong for Stoke on this occasion and could come out with yet another big victory against Stoke. Stoke have the worst defensive record in the league and will struggle to keep out so many threats. The return of a hungry Harry Kane is also ominous for The Potters.
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