Tottenham Hot. - Stoke City

After nine rounds left, Tottenham hold the third place and after many years seem as a serious contender to break top-four of English football end earn a Champions League spot. With “’Arry” in charge, team finally looks more than competitive. Only two failures came after the clashes against probably the best league clubs Man.Utd.(1-3 at home) and Chelsea (0-3 on the road) and those are the only two games where Spurs didn’t score at least twice! Also, they look in a great shape recently, with three wins (Preston North End 5-1, Burnley 5-0 and Portsmouth 2-1) and a draw (Bolton Wanderers 2-2) in last four competitive games. Main story in English press is missing of excellent Jermaine Defoe who got a red card against Pompey. In my opinion it won’t be such a big lose, ‘cause his replacement Peter Crouch could be more useful against the team who will defend with 10 players, which Stoke surely plan to perform. Jonathan Woodgate played in a midweek friendly against Dag&Red and could make his first-team comeback this weekend, while Modric stays absent with a broken leg. 

Stoke have been noticing their dream start of the recent campaign. And while their tough performance at Britannia Stadium were expected, their recent good run on the road with three undefeated encounters (all three draws, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and Everton) looks a little bit surprising. They play tactically almost perfect with strong defense displays (Huth, Shawcross, Collins and Faye back), waiting a chance from some set piece or counter attack. However, those chances haven’t come too often, Potters have some problems to score on the road and they also don’t have an away win so far. Considering statistics as well, they’ll have to wait more for it, as Stoke have only beaten Tottenham once in 29 attempts at White Hart Lane - a 2-0 win in 1975. They’ll have a chance to take something from this match as far as they manage to keep the clean sheet. Missing of key defender, Robert Huth, who has been banned for three matches for punching West Ham defender Matthew Upson, surely won’t help. Irish Glenn Whelan should return, but fellow midfielder Liam Lawrence is doubtful after missing training with a virus.

Tottenham possess more than decent quality, big spendings finally started to produce some results on the field, team looks in a great shape and they’re clear favorites here. Stoke have decent run of results, but the problem is they play over their real capabilities. Drop in form is unavoidable and I think it starts at White Hart Lane. My pick is home win with -1 handicap, bet365 offer 1.75.

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