Home to Stoke on Wednesday evening and hopefully we’re set for less drama than was witnessed last time out. The encouraging news from the London Chest Hospital means that any doubts as to whether the game should go ahead have largely been dispelled, all that remains to be established is the extent to which our players have been able to put the traumatic events behind them. It’s not hard to imagine that in the closeted world of professional football, where the players think themselves invulnerable, something this sudden, extreme and close to home will take a little getting used to.
Our previous two encounters with Stoke this season have been at the Britannia and both ended in disappointment, with a shootout loss in the Carling Cup and a Chris Foy engineered defeat in the league, though admittedly we did ourselves no favours in the latter by showing up half asleep and conceding two early goals.
We know what to expect from the visitors of course. Their “they don’t like it up ’em” doctrine will again see them survive comfortably in midtable and gain few friends outside of Staffordshire, not that they care I’m sure.
This game is a chance to welcome back Peter Crouch to WHL, the hero of Eastlands and the San Siro and he should get a good reception. Say what you like about his capabilities but he never gave less than his all when in a Spurs shirt.
His place in an already powerful Stoke side removes any doubt about the amount of pressure that is likely to be applied to the centre of our defence, an area that has not looked too solid since about 35 minutes into the game at the Hemorrhoids at the end of last month.
So that’s a couple of lazy stereotypes established, Stoke as Route One hoofers and a vulnerable Spurs defence likely to need tin hats to cope with the aerial onslaught.
The probable absence of Adebayor is a blow as is the certain one of Lennon. Our side on Saturday was disjointed with Bale, as he’s been so often lately, our likeliest source of danger by some distance. Kaboul should come back into defence and that’ll help particularly with the size of the side, which was very small at the weekend, the last thing you want when you’ve got a team of tree trunks facing you.
Mike Jones is down to referee. He took charge of our home win against Liverpool earlier in the season and also the draw against Wolves.
Stoke are fresh off the back of a disappointing defeat at Anfield on Sunday, one that effectively finishes their season. We could really really do with a win. The players will hopefully feel an uplift following Muamba’s good news and let’s all hope that that’s enough to get us off to a good start and a comfortable win. After all the emotion of the weekend, that’d suit just fine. COYS.
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