Tottenham Hotspur are being touted as contenders for the Premier League! Next
up is Stoke at the Britannia on Sunday, in a game that will significantly affect
their title odds and show if they have genuine credentials.
Tottenham take a trip to Stoke coasting on their best run since 1984/85 and if
Spurs can avoid defeat at the Britannia, they'll stretch their unbeaten league
run to a massive 12 matches! They have once before managed 11, under Gerry
Francis in December 1995. There’s even been talk of Spurs as possible
contenders for the league this year and in recent days I’ve seen two reports on
the “Five Reasons Spurs Can Win the League”.
Undeniably we are looking at the best Spurs side since Terry Venables'
FA Cup winners, and Harry’s boys have the potential to go even further. Spurs
are as low as 14/1 (with some sportsbooks) to win the league, and 2/5 on a top
four finish. For his sterling work, Jamie Redknapp’s dad is fourth favourite at
8/1 to be crowned manager of the year.
Paper and form point towards a Spurs victory
Spurs are on six
successive league victories (for the first time since 1990), they have won
their last three Premier League away games (never before have they won four in
a row), they are currently third in the Premier League (ahead of Saturday’s
games) and have won 10 and drawn one of their last 11 matches (that 2-2 draw
was when Spurs succumbed to a late equaliser at St James’ Park spoiling the
The plaudits go on…Spurs have scored three goals in four of their last five
league games and have failed to score just five times in all games this term
(that’s 21 matches). If that doesn’t impress you much, you should know that
Spurs have failed to score in just ONE league game, and that was their season
opener against Manchester United (which ended 3-0 to the Champions). In case
anyone doesn’t remember, Spurs are just five points behind Manchester United and
still have two games in hand, this one and one against Everton.
But what about Stoke?
currently eighth in the table, but could drop as low as 14th by the time they
kick off against Spurs (depending on the Saturday fortunes of the six teams
three points or less below them). Stoke have scored only 14 goals in their 14
games this season, with only Wigan and West Brom scoring fewer. What’s more
only five of those 14 goals have been scored from open play.
last weekend at Everton they only managed two shots on target; both from their
two centre-halves. Still, Stoke did beat Spurs in the Carling Cup third round
this season 7-6 on penalties when the game ended 0-0 after extra-time. There is
also a pair of possibly telling stats as 36% of Stoke’s goals this season have
come from headers (the highest proportion in the Premier League) while
Tottenham have conceded 31% of their goals from
headers, also the highest percentage in the division.
The bad news for Stoke
City is that they have lost four of their last six games, but a corner seems to
have been turned as they have won their last two (1-0 against Everton and 3-1
against Blackburn). The really good news is that they have progressed to the
last 32 of the Europa League. Going further than they ever have before in
Europe (thanks to a draw at Dynamo Kiev on Thursday). Tony Pulis described it
as a "milestone" for the club. "What we've done is fantastic and
we've qualified from what I think is the toughest group," he said. At
present Stoke are 33/1 in the soccer odds to win the Europa League.
Check out the sick bays!
Tony Pulis barely
has any injury worries ahead of this fixture as Rory Delap and Jermaine Pennant
are likely to return after missing the Everton win with minor injuries, ‘keeper
Thomas Sorensen has been passed fit after a mild concussion and Andy Wilkinson,
who injured his back in training faces, a fitness test; that means Mamady
Sidibe is the only player definitely sidelined for the home side. It’s a
different story for Tottenham as Roman Pavlyuchenko, Niko Kranjcar, Gareth
Bale, Jermain Defoe and Ledley King are all doubts ahead of Sunday's game.
Head to Head
This is the 81st
meeting between the sides, and it’s Tottenham who have the best of them. Spurs
have won 40 games, Stoke 22 and there have been 18 draws. An away win is the
favourite with the sportsbooks at 11/10, while a home win is at 5/2 and a draw
is at 12/5.
Also Tottenham have won on their last two visits to the Britannia Stadium
(in the league) by the same scoreline; 2-1. That score is available at 15/2.
You might also want to bet on a sending off or a penalty as there have been
three red cards and three penalties in the three Premier League meetings
between Stoke and Tottenham at this ground, and Spurs have seen more opposing
players sent off against them (four) than any other team this season. You can
get Over 3.5 cards in the match at 1/1 and Under 3.5 at 8/11, while a penalty
scored by Spurs is at 6/1 and a missed penalty by Spurs is at 20/1.
to a Spurs win, but there’s a little voice in my head that tells me Tottenham
aren’t quite title contenders (yet), Spurs’ run has to end soon and here would
be a good time.
Prediction 1: A sensible bet on Spurs taking the game 3-0
Prediction 2: Listen to the little voice and hedge a bet on
Stoke winning 1-0 at 10/1