At the beginning of the season, Stoke City’s trip to face Tottenham at Wembley wouldn’t have been given a second glance, but it is now looking like a must win match for the home side. They have endured a poor run of form since the injury to Toby Alderweireld, which has seen them fall to 6th position. The Spurs’ supporters will have had hopes of challenging for the title this season after pushing for it during the last two campaigns. However, they have seen a decline in their performance level and their results have suffered.
A major reason for their run of poor form has been the injuries to key players. It is generally agreed that Alderweireld is one of the best defenders in the league, while Victor Wanyama has also been absent with injury. That provides problems for their defensive shape and it doesn’t help that Eric Dier has been forced to push back into the centre-back position in the absence of the former. Moussa Sissoko has been given a prominent role in the centre of the park and he doesn’t have the quality that the other centre-midfield options possess. A win in the Champions League will have given them some confidence, but they must return to winning ways in the league, sooner rather than later.
Stoke City are enjoying another mid-table campaign, but the competitiveness of the division means that they will have one eye on the teams below them in the table. Xherdan Shaqiri is threatening to fulfil his potential and in a World Cup year, the winger is arguably the club’s most important player. They are facing Tottenham at the best possible chance and they have an opportunity to take something from the game if they are disciplined in their approach. West Brom were the last visitors to Wembley and they managed to avoid defeat. There is no reason why the Potters can’t aim for a similar result.
Christian Eriksen registered his first assist since the opening weekend of the season last weekend against Watford.
Stoke City have only kept two clean sheets during this Premier League season. It would be a surprise if they were to deny Tottenham for an entire 90 minutes.
The Danish international has the opportunity to go to his first World Cup this summer and he will be keen to enter the tournament in good form. It would be unfair to pick him out for criticism after Tottenham’s recent form, but every player will be looking to do better over the coming weeks. There is no arguing against Eriksen’s importance to the team and he is extremely influential on the pitch. The problems have been organisational and tactical ones, but the attacking players have also been wasteful at times. Stoke City will look to cram as many bodies behind the ball as possible and frustrate the home supporters. Eriksen has the quality to pick their defence apart and create chances for the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli. Until Alderweireld and Wanyama return, Mauricio Pochettino can’t rely on his defence to keep clean sheets. This means Tottenham will need goals to win matches and as the main creative presence, the former Ajax midfielder must step up, as he hasn’t been productive enough this season.
The former Bayern Munich and Inter Milan winger caught the imagination of the English footballing public when he arrived at the Bet365 Stadium. There was expectation on him to immediately stand out in the team and help move the club in a positive direction. He hasn’t managed to do that and there has been a lot of frustration that he hasn’t stood out more. There have been a few nice goals that will be involved in highlight packages for years, but he hasn’t emerged as a great player. The winger has scored three goals and contributed two assists during the last five matches. He has hit a rich vein of form and he will be the main threat to the Tottenham defence this weekend.
Davinson Sanchez will be serving the first of his three-match suspension after receiving a red card last weekend. This could see Tottenham revert to a back four. Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier and Christian Eriksen are all expected to be restored to the first eleven after being rested for the Champions League game.
Bruno Martins Indi won’t be fit to start for the visitors after picking up a groin injury. Peter Crouch is expected to feature against his former team and he could pose a real threat against a weakened Tottenham defence.
Despite their poor form in recent weeks, Tottenham are too good to continue dropping points and this fixture offers them a great chance of returning to winning ways. They will have taken confidence from their victory in the Champions League and a return to a four-man defence could help them improve at the back in the absence of Toby Alderweireld. Stoke can cause problems for any team, but their inability to keep clean sheets means it is difficult to see them taking anything from this match.
Tottenham 3-1 Stoke City