Next up, it’s the Bet365 and Stoke City on Saturday afternoon.
The Potters have flirted with relegation for periods during the last few seasons, usually starting badly but pulling out of trouble after Christmas. This time they’ve gone for it good and proper and currently sit two places below the dotted line and deep in the poo with time running out.
Given our recent record against them, seventeen goals scored and one conceded in the last four meetings, our good form, unbeaten in 13 with 10 wins and their abysmal form, 4 points from the last 24 with no wins, it’s safe to say that they won’t be feeling too optimistic. Oh yes, and Harry’s back, scorer of eight of those seventeen goals.
Gone are the days of Pulis away being a match where the faint hearted lost sleep over the thought of facing Shawcross, Huth, Cameron and Whelan in front of a baying mob, Stoke are now welcoming hosts, they’ve won just five of their home games this season. The descent under Hughes has been slow but apparently unstoppable, all a very different kettle than it used to be.
So a guaranteed three points? Of course not, however, this Pochettino team is made of such stern, unflappable stuff that’s it difficult to think otherwise. Playing devil’s advocate though, even though the win last weekend was something else, the quality of the goals we scored enabled us to gloss over the fact that Chelsea were marginally the better side before half-time. They played a counter attacking game that caught us out once and nearly several other times before Hugo came to the rescue. Ramadan and Shaqiri have the pace to give us trouble should anyone get isolated at the back.
We obviously have the firepower to score one more than them should the worst occur, we don’t want to put ourselves under that much pressure of course.
The team should be very similar to last weekend. Kane may come in for Lamela, Aurier may come in Trippier. Moura will be champing at the bit and deserves a chance at some point; Son deserves a rest whether he wants or not.
Graham Scott is the referee.
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