Monday, September 19, 2011

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur Carling Cup Preview

Battle of Europa League Qualifiers

This Carling Cup tie in surely one that neither of these clubs wanted.  Having travelled across Europe to play last Thursday, followed by a Premier League game on Sunday - an exhausting schedule, both clubs would have preferred a free week to recover both mentally and physically.

Tottenham and Stoke meet in a League Cup (Carling Cup) tie for the first time.  The clubs have met occasionally in the FA Cup and with Stoke re-establishing themselves in the top tier of English football in recent years they have become regular combatants in the Premier League.  Since returning to the Premier League in 2008 after a twenty three year absence, Stoke have become a force to be reckoned with under manager, Tony Pulis, reaching the FA Cup Final last season.  The clubs have met six times in the Premier and Spurs have won four matches, including the last two visits to the Brittania Stadium.  On the last visit at the beginning of last season, two goals from Gareth Bale secured a 2 - 1 victory.

Stoke have made a sound start to the season, coping with the demands of European competition although they suffered at the hands of Sunderland on Sunday, losing 0 - 4 at the Stadium of Light, having played in Kiev during the week.  This was their first defeat of the season and they are currently 5th in the Premier League.  Stoke started the season with a scoreless draw at home to Chelsea and followed it with a 1 - 1 draw at Norwich.  A last minute goal at West Brom secured their first win and then they had a good home win over Liverpool with a penalty from Walters.  They have made good progress in Europe and secured a 1 - 1 draw in Kiev last week.

Tottenham's form has picked up after two difficult games to open the season, with victories secured against Wolves and Liverpool.  The new signings have made an immediate impact on the team with Adebayor scoring three goals in his first two games, Scott Parker forming a good partnership with Luka Modric and Brad Friedel keeping two clean sheets in the last two games.

Stoke have strengthened their side with the signature of three Spurs players in the summer to play with former Spur, Matthew Etherington.  However, Jonathan Woodgate is unlikely to play as his new club endeavour to manage his injury difficulties by being selective in the matches he plays.  This one is unlikely to be a high priority as Tottenham will also decide about Ledley King.  Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch also made the end of August move to Stoke but who will be selected by Pulis is unknown as he will try to rotate his squad but whatever the formation and composition of the team, Spurs can be assured of meeting a team fully committed and competitive.

Harry Redknapp will have to decide how many of his first team should play alongside some of the younger players who did so well in Greece.  The basis of the team will probably come from the substitutes who were named on Sunday plus Heurelho Gomes may start for the first time since at Hearts in August and with Sandro and William Gallas possibly available after injury but whether the rest of the team is strengthened by other first team players is in the hands of the manager.
Latest Team News from THFC: V Stoke City (CC)

Last 6 Matches
Apr. 2011 PL (h) Won 3 - 2 Crouch (2), Modric
Aug. 2010 (a) Won 2 - 1 Bale (2)
Mar. 2010 (a) Won 2 - 1 Gudjohnsen, Kranjcar
Oct. 2009 (h) Lost 0 - 1
Jan. 2009 (h) Won 3 - 1 Lennon, Defoe, Dawson
Oct. 2008 (a) Lost 1 - 2 Bent

In the Cup v Stoke City
Tottenham and Stoke have been drawn together on only five occasions in Cup football.  The first two occasions were while Tottenham were playing in non-League football:
1895-96 FA Cup 1st R:  (a) Lost 0 - 5
1898 99 FA Cup 3rd R:  (a)Lost 1 - 4

They then met twice after the 2nd World War:
1946-47 FA Cup 3rd R: (h) Draw2 - 2
                         Replay: (a) Lost 0 - 1
1949-50 FA Cup 3rd R: (a) Won 1 - 0 Baily  (Tottenham's promotion season)

The last meeting was in season 1975-76, again in the 3rd Round at White Hart Lane when Terry Neill was manager.  The match was drawn 1 - 1 with John Duncan scoring the goal.  Spurs lost the replay 1 - 2 with Steve Perryman scoring.  This was a period when Tottenham went out of the FA Cup in the 3rd Round for five successive seasons starting in 1973-74.  

The match will be decided on the night with extra-time and penalties if necessary.  Spurs have a poor Cup record against Stoke City but this game will have no comparison on previous meeting in the Premier league as both managers are likely to field weakened teams.  However, it is a competition that both clubs will want to take seriously as it is one that either could win if other teams don't take it seriously enough.  It will be fascinating to see which team has the greater desire to win and gives the commitment it deserves, with Wembley and a possible trophy only a further five games away games away.  Spurs have experienced the joy of winning this Cup on four previous occasions and supporters enjoy a trip to Wembley.


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