Why why why, did I bother turning up?
Next up is Stoke away on Saturday afternoon. This was a fixture that used to spark more than the odd quiver in the sphincter muscle, indeed only two seasons ago we were chewed up with barely a note of protest, but not any more. Just before things went horribly Pete Tong in May, our visit to the then Britannia Stadium provided what was probably our last, ninety minutes long, good performance of the 2015/16 season. Kane’s early strike set the tone and whilst the home team held on until half time, the goals flowed after the break and the Tom Jones groupies had pretty much all departed to their Delilahs well before the end.
More beef than a butcher’s shop
Post-game Mark Hughes said that his team had been unable to match us physically, a claim you thought you’d never hear from a Stoke manager in the modern era, thus he’ll be disappointed to learn of the addition of Janssen, Sissoko and Wanyama to our ranks over the summer none of whom appear shrinking violets.
There is a chance that all three will play from the off. Wanyama will definitely be there as Dembélé pays the last instalment of his Costa fine but Lamela is returning late from South America meaning that Sissoko may get a chance on the right though it’s more likely that Janssen will be brought in to start alongside Kane with Alli floating around in Lamela’s spot I’d hazard.
A tired Kane is as good as the rest?
The scenario where all three start depends on Pochettino’s attitude to both the game against Monaco on Wednesday and Kane’s current form. If he thinks that Harry is effectively still in pre-season due to his late return from the Euros then he’ll play him, if he thinks that he would benefit from a game off before lighting up Wembley next week… well it’s tempting to say that he’ll rest him but I think we know Poch better than that.
At the back we have some good news in that it sounds as if Hugo may be fit but also some of the bad variety as rumours that England’s Rose played on with a hamstring injury last weekend turned out to be true and he will be out for a few games. Darn it. Still, Ben Davies is a more than adequate replacement.
Predicted line up – Hugo, Walker, Toby, Jan, Davies, Dier, Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen, Kane, Janssen.
Stoke-alona or Stoke-a-goner?
Stoke will be looking to both kick start their season and seek a bit of revenge for last season’s televised thrashing. Hughes will be hoping that the on loan Bony will be able to provide more of a fulcrum for the talents of Arnautovic & Bojan than Diouf, Crouch or Walters were able to. Shaqiri & Affelay are injured I believe which may allow young Egyptian winger Ramadan Sobhi a chance which will be intriguing if nothing else.
We struggled occasionally against the Swansea Bony, this though is a different Spurs and I’d expect us to cope. It’s going forward where we need to improve if we’re going to get something from the game. If Eriksen’s mind is now off his contract talks, if Alli can get used to being played in multiple positions and if Kane can shake off his early season blues, we should be fine.
Anthony Taylor is the referee.
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