An open game that we were arguably fortunate to win despite Stoke being down to ten men for most of the second half. The post match analyses will be dominated by Andre Marriner’s decisions to leave Adebayor unpunished after an early elbowish challenge, then later issue two yellows to Shawcross and one to Rose (in separate incidents) when many thought that a red was, ahem, on the cards.
Shawcross can hardly complain after his cynical foul on Eriksen and then his late high one (way up the field by the way, I’m not sure what he was thinking, oh no it’s Shawcross, he probably wasn’t) on Rose. The full back then tempted Marriner into ending his visit to the Britannia early when he chased after Cameron and raised his hands (to chest level) against him. Cameron had escaped unpunished after flattening Rose unfairly but the latter’s reaction was typical of the decision making we’ve come to expect from him and he was very lucky.
Mind you by then maybe Rose thought that he’d had more than his fair share of the game’s limelight having already put us ahead and also having his head accidentally stomped on by Odemwingie. The home crowd had certainly had enough of him by the time he was substituted giving him grief whenever he was in or near possession. Quite what they thought he’d done wrong in going down after being challenged late and high I don’t know. They’d have been better focused on wondering why their team wasn’t doing better against a Spurs side unable to keep possession and looking very lightweight in attack.
We rarely played with any flow as virtually everyone forward of Lloris struggled to find a man or display anything approaching a delicate first touch. Countless forays came to a sudden stop as our final ball found touch, the opposition, or a colleague under the impression that there was a court injunction preventing him from getting too close to it. Mind you Stoke were doing little at the other end where Crouch was making one nostalgic for the days when he’d fruitlessly furrow alone up front for us. Adebayor’s quick thinking and burst of pace to get round Whelan and chip for Rose (what was he doing there?) to head firmly home was out of character with a pretty poor game. Kane had a half chance to add a second before half time but in general we didn’t threaten.
This was also the case in the second half even after Marriner had intervened. Stoke took Crouch off and looked livelier straight away whilst Sherwood withdrew Rose to allow Fryers to display once again why it’s generally considered he’ll make a better centre than full back. The home side looked the side most likely to score but incompetence ruled as they either shot or headed wide or straight at a faultless Lloris. We seemed incapable of holding possession and making them work nor of breaking dangerously – apart from almost at the death when Paulinho should’ve wrapped it up.
Say what you like about Sherwood, and most people do, but it does seem that he’s capable of getting the best out of some players. Kane, Adebayor, Lloris and Eriksen have all excelled of late and even Kaboul is starting to look more like a leader and less an impending crock. His (Sherwood’s) plan of sitting Chadli in front of the pack four seems to be paying off results wise even if you’d doubt its efficacy against Toure and Fernandinho for instance. The defence still looks comedy on far too many occasions, don’t be fooled by the clean sheet here but, and I’m not saying he should be manager in August before anyone asks, the points haul proves that he is doing something right.
West Ham next week. Five points clear of Norwich with two games left, it’d be a shock if they got dragged in to the bottom three. Given that they’re playing Man City on the last Sunday of the season they’ll want to make sure that they get at least a point though. They’ve beaten us twice already this season; we can expect another tough one. COYS.
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