Going Going Gent
Another Europa League campaign another shambles. Gent were tidy enough in both legs but from the complacency in the first leg to the o.g. and sending off last night, the overall defeat was self inflicted. Pochettino will be upset and probably angry but disappointing as it is, it feels like a relief in one way that the inevitable has occurred before we got in to proper fixture pile up territory.
Suitably chastened, our heroes welcome Stoke City to White Hart Lane on Sunday for our first Premier League game since we collapsed so awfully at Anfield, and doesn’t that feel like a long while ago?
Stoke’s form has been the epitome of Middle Table this season, alternately stringing together a few good results and a few bad ones. When we played them in September, Son was going through his apparent world beater in the making spell and we strolled to a 4-0 win. The Potters are more settled now and we can expect a tough battle, they’ll see us as vulnerable given the number of games we’ve played in the last fortnight and the number of poor performances contained therein.
Goalscoring has been their biggest problem this season, none of Bony, Diouf, Bojan (now departed) or Arnautovic have proven reliable thus we may get the pleasure of being able to give Peter Crouch a warm welcome back. Joe Allen is their top PL goalscorer with 6. Berahino. Meh.
‘Stokelona’ seems to have ended as quickly as it began, the familiar names of Shawcross, Whelan, Adam and Bardsley make up the backbone of Stoke side rather than former Catalans. Stoke currently lie 9th with 32 points, the same as West Ham but five points behind West Brom in eighth. They have had three away wins all season as well as three draws and six losses scoring 14 goals in the process.
Oooh it’s all very Shaun Close*
Four points now cover second to sixth place meaning that good or bad results will see big yoyos amongst this group of teams. Each of them has lurched between Contender and Crisis! all season with us, if you believe the media, in the second category following our displays at Liverpool and in Europe. Sigh. I suspect we’ll field a side very similar to the one that started against Gent though Son may get a look in as we certainly brightened up when he came off the bench. Dele is in apologetic mood according to the press; he will though be a prime target for the wind-up antics of Shawcross in particular. It’ll be interesting to watch his behaviour.
Much will depend on Eriksen, Kane and Walker but all being well we should have too much for Stoke and will be able to steal a few points on Woolwich and Man United, neither of whom play this weekend.
Jonathan Moss is the referee.
*Forward – 12 games between 1986 & 1988.
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