Premier League 17/18 Week 33: Stoke City vs Tottenham Hotspur -Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Potters edge ever-closer to the last chance saloon as they look to pick off the Spurs and put their current run of bad luck behind them
15:00 BST, Saturday 7th April, bet365 Stadium (Stoke, England)
Paul Lambert’s side have avoided victory in all but one of his games in charge, a fact compounded by three successive defeats that have left them severely endangered. With missed penalties, calamitous keeping, bad weather and a fatal lack of goals all conspiring to hinder them in recent weeks, they now have an uphill fight to keep their Premier League status.
This weekend’s opponents are not just a team in a rich vein of form, they’re a team who have scored a minimum of four goals against the Potters during each of their last 4 meetings. With 5 consecutive wins in the league and an unbeaten run which reaches back to their defeat by Manchester City in mid-December, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have made themselves firm favourites to finish in this season’s top-four. Another league victory this weekend will be Spurs’ 20th of the season and provide further confidence they can finish in third ahead of Liverpool.
Last Time Out
Arsenal 3-0 Stoke City (Premier League)
The Potters crumbled in the final 15 minutes after a robust performance had frustrated the Gunners with some stubborn defending. While Stoke were offering little as an attacking entity, they proved hard to break down and were rarely troubled by Arsenal’s forwards which led to the home team being booed from the pitch at half-time.
Although the scoreline ultimately flattered Arsenal, Stoke’s downfall was entirely of their own doing. Two penalties were conceded during the closing stages to sandwich a header that was aided by some loose defending of a corner. Having defensively tightened up under Lambert in recent weeks, this will be a particularly displeasing setback for the manager to deal with on the training ground this week.
Chelsea 1-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League)
Spurs claimed their first win at Stamford Bridge in 28 years with a thoroughly deserved victory that takes them a giant leap towards securing a top-four finish this season. While this match had a hauntingly familiar start to proceedings when Chelsea opened the scoring on the half-hour mark. It could have been worse for Spurs but for Hugo Lloris making a fine save from Marcos Alonso, however, Spurs were unfazed and held their nerve to record a deserved victory.
Pochettino had made a surprise move in playing Erik Lamela as the lone striker with Heung-Min Son playing the left wing and both players fit well into their respective roles. It was Christian Eriksen who again impressed in midfield and he scored with a wonderful long-range strike to level the scores just before half-time. With Dele Alli stepping up with two second-half goals that completed the swing in the momentum of the game and a late cameo from fit-again Harry Kane, there were more reasons than just the result for Spurs to leave happy about.
Stoke City Lineup
Konstantinos Stafylidis has been ruled out with a rib injury while Eric Choupo-Moting (knock) and Charlie Adam (suspended) are also unavailable. There are small doubts regarding both Kurt Zouma (knee) and Mame Biram Diouf (knock), however, both are expected to begin this match for the Potters as is Geoff Cameron is available for selection again this weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur Lineup
Harry Winks is the only player unavailable for Spurs this weekend due to an ankle injury which leaves Pochettino with plenty of options ahead of this match. Toby Alderweireld is again expected to miss out, although, Harry Kane should return to the starting lineup.
Key Battle: Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City) vs Dele Alli (Tottenham)
The Swiss midfielder’s comments which were published a week ago may have been from an interview made many months ago, however, the timing of its release has proved of concern to the club. The only thing Shaqiri can now do is push these remarks to the back of the fans mind with a performance which underlines the quality which he believes he possesses and hope to be proven wrong regarding the skills of the teammates who will share the pitch with him this weekend.
Alli is another player who has had more than his fair share of critics this season, however, he went a long way to answering them with two goals last week. As a player who enjoyed a prolific spell at this stage of last season and someone hoping to have a major role to play in this summer’s World Cup, another vibrant display will give both his image and his confidence a significant boost.
Lacking in quality
Shaqiri’s comments on his fellow teammates lacking quality may have been aimed at their footballing skills, however, another quality has been found in short supply in the Stoke dressing room this week.
The news of Saido Berahino turning up late for training twice within three days this week shows a massive lack of professionalism by the striker. He may not have featured prominently in the first team this season but, as the club’s sixth-most expensive signing, much more is expected of the way he conducts himself.
As the oldest club in the Premier League, Stoke have a rich heritage behind them. With many fans recently left questioning the resolve of many of their senior squad who have lacked a desire to turn around their fortunes on the pitch, this news will further decrease Berahino’s stock.
A familiar London tale
Now fully recovered from a hamstring injury which has sidelined him since October, Alderweireld still finds himself on the periphery of the senior squad. Davinson Sánchez has been a revelation for Tottenham this season in the Belgian’s place, however, an unsigned contract offer for Alderweireld continues to attract speculation he’s reaching the end of his time in North London.
With two years remaining on Alderweireld’s current contract, Spurs are the party in the stronger bargaining position. A similar story unfolded last season when Kyle Walker made his intentions of a move away from the club known and Danny Rose has also found match-time in short supply following his media remarks earlier this season.
With Spurs set up to support players who prove themselves through performances on the pitch, these two players could continue to find themselves “frozen” out of the starting lineup in the coming weeks. This could also serve to maintain Tottenham’s levels of play during the final matches which could see them carry good form into their approaching FA Cup match.
Prediction: Stoke City 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
With these teams occupying opposite ends of the table and in form which reflects their respective positions, the result of this fixture seems like a safe bet. There have been fewer surprise results from this type of fixture this season compared to last and this seems more like a case of how many rather than who will win.