Thursday, December 08, 2011

Spurs Record at Stoke City

Tottenham face a difficult task in their visit to Stoke City as they seek to extend their impressive Premier League record, undefeated since the end of  August.  Both clubs have experienced Europa League football this season and while Spurs are on the verge of going out at the Group stages, Stoke have qualified for the knock-out stages.
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Stoke are eighth in the Premier League with 18 points although there is a gap of five points to Liverpool in seventh.  Stoke are undefeated in their Europa League group games but have suffered the problems of maintaining their form in League matches following European travels, especially with defeats at Sunderland (0 - 4) and Bolton (0 - 5).  However, both clubs have had a free week so there can be no excuses and Stoke have an impressive home record with wins over Liverpool, Fulham and Blackburn.  They also drew with Chelsea and Manchester United at the Brittania Stadium but their two home defeats have been at the hands of QPR and Newcastle United.  Last weekend they enjoyed a single goal success at Everton with defender Robert Huth scoring early in the game.  Spurs know the difficult task they face having already played Spoke in a goalless match in the Carling Cup with Stoke winning the penalty shoot-out.  Spurs must again be prepared for an aerial bombardment, something they have coped with quite comfortably in the past two seasons, recording wins on both occasions.  In those matches, Peter Crouch was  a useful aide in thwarting Stoke attacks at throw ins, corners and free-kicks but on this occasion he will be another target for the Stoke missiles.

Stoke have a number of players who have provided their goals this season, Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters are joint top scorers with six each.  Jones has only one League goal but four in Europe and a Carling Cup goal.  Walters who thought he had scored late in last season's game has four goals in the League and two in Europe.  Crouch has contributed five with three in the League and two in Europe.

Stoke's team has the potential to contain four former Spurs players.  Peter Crouch, Wilson Palacios and Jonathan Woodgate joined during the summer while Matthew Etherington joined from West Ham in 2009 after spending six years with the club following his transfer from Tottenham.  Palacios has had little opportunity to impress since his transfer due to injury which he has recently recovered from but Woodgate and Crouch have been regulars in the side.  Woodgate has overcome the problems which so restricted his playing time at White Hart Lane and is part of a powerful, experienced defence in front of goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen who was injured last weekend but is expected to recover.  Etherington who scored in last season's game at Tottenham, has been an important player for Stoke, helping them to become established in the Premier League and reaching last season's FA Cup Final.

This will be a very difficult match for Spurs who will need to be prepared to match Stoke's hard work ethic and stand up to their powerful play.  However, Spurs have the players in Gareth Bale, Rafael Van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon to create problems for the Stoke defenders but it will require the same intensity of performance which saw them through difficult times at both Fulham and West Brom.

Tottenham's Premier League Record at Stoke
The clubs have met on three occasions at Stoke in the Premier League.  Spurs have won the last two with Stoke gaining the upper hand in the first match in October, 2008.

Oct. 2008  PL  Lost 1 - 2  Bent
This was the first meeting with Stoke in top flight football since season 1985-85 and the match summed up Gareth Bale's early days at Spurs and the abysmal start Spurs had to the 2008 - 09 season but it was also a turning point as Juande Ramos had departed and Harry Redknapp arrived before the next weekend's game.  Spurs were a goal down and a man down after eighteen minutes.  Gareth Bale was sent off after making a mistake and then conceding a penalty in trying to rectify the error.  Surprisingly, Darren Bent equalised within seven minutes but Stoke scored a second shortly after the interval.  Vedran Corluka was stretchered off after sustaining an injury and his replacement, Michael Dawson was sent off in the final minute. As if Spurs hadn't had enough, eleven minutes of added time was played as Spurs finished the day with '2 points from 8 games'.

Mar. 2010  PL  Won 2 - 1  Gudjohnsen, Kranjcar
After a scoreless first period, Spurs went ahead in the opening minute of the second half.  Eidur Gudjohnsen who had replaced Roman Pavlyuchenko scored his first goal for the club.  An Etherington penalty brought the game level but Nico Kranjcar restored Spurs' advantage with a great strike following a Gudjohnsen dummy which created the space for him.  Spurs remained in fourth place as they battled for a Champions League spot.

Aug. 2010  PL  won 2 - 1  Bale (2)
Bale set aside the ghost of his previous indiscretions at the Brittania Stadium and proved the match winner.  All three goals came within eleven minutes of each other during the first half.  Bale scored from close range after Crouch had headed on Lennon's cross after nineteen minutes but Stoke equalised six minutes later following a corner.  He restored Spurs' lead with a wonderful left foot volley after half an hour to give Spurs their first win of the season.

League Record at Stoke (inc. PL)
 P  36  W  11  D  9  L  16  For  40  Ag  49

Memorable Matches
The previous meeting in the 1st Division in March, 1985 had seen the game settled in Spurs' favour with a goal by former Stoke player, Garth Crooks.  

The previous season, a Mark Falco penalty had earned Spurs the three points.

In October, 1980, Spurs won  3 - 2 with Chris Hughton, Steve Archibald and Peter Taylor (pen) scoring.

All of the results since their first away meeting in the 2nd Division in April, 1920 have been quite close.  On that occasion Spurs won 3 - 1 on their way to promotion as Champions after one season in the lower Division following Arsenal's unscrupulous dealings to gain a place in the top flight ahead of Tottenham when the Division was increased in size after the 1st World War.   Spurs legend, Jimmy Seed and that old man again, Jimmy Cantrell (2) providing the goals.  

In those days clubs met on successive weekends and the previous Saturday, Spurs had won 2 - 0 at White Hart Lane through goals from two other Spurs legends for their earliest days, Jimmy Dimmock and Arthur Grimsdell.

The largest win that Spurs have enjoyed at Stoke came early in September, 1951.  Spurs had won the 1st Division title the previous year for the first time and won 6 - 1 after a shaky start to the new season.  At the beginning of the month they had lost 2 - 7 at Newcastle but recovered to dominate Soke with goals from Alf Ramsey (p), Sonny Walters, Les Bennett, Les Medley (2) and Sid McClellan.  At the end of the season Spurs finished as runners-up, behind Manchester United, while Stoke avoided relegation by one place.

Although their first League meeting wasn't until season 1919-20, Tottenham and Stoke have been linked since Spurs entry into the Football League.  Spurs played in the Southern League and although they had turned professional in 1895 and won the F.A.Cup as a non-League club in 1901, the club had not applied for a position in the Football League.  However, at the end of 1907-08 season they resigned from the Southern League and applied for a place in the Football League but were not voted into the League, a major problem for the club.  However, in mid-June, 1908 Stoke City resigned their place in the Second Division for financial reasons, creating an opening which Spurs were able to fill, being elected to the Football League at the end of the month.  Stoke, however, further added to the confusion when they tried to change their decision on resigning.

A tough match can be expected as Stoke are inclined to raise their game when faced with top opposition, always making it difficult for them.  The latest team news is that Bale and Jermain Defoe are doubtful with injuries, Ledley King may not have recovered from the problem which kept him out of last week's match and Sandro is still doubtful.  On the bright side, Rafael Van der Vaart has recovered from the hamstring injury which has troubled him for the past couple of weeks.  It's at this time of the year as injuries start to take their toll that the depth of the squad will be tested so hopefully any of the players who come into the team will be fully committed now that an opportunity has arisen for them so enabling Spurs to continue with their ascent of the Premier League table.


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