What’s that coming over the hill? Well if not quite a monster then the closest the Premier League has to it. Yes, Stoke City come to White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon in possibly one of the least anticipated fixtures of the season, in my house anyway. Not the most enticing way to kick off the festive season, Kenwyne & Crouchie, Huth & Shawcross, Wilkinson, Adam and Pulis, Santa’s reindeers maybe in a Tim Burton directed panto.
Both Swansea and Stoke play a percentage game, both are designed to frustrate, one more media friendly than the other. Swansea were surprisingly timid and cautious last Sunday as though in the away leg of a European tie, if that’s the case on Saturday then something will have gone very wrong with the away side’s game plan. They currently sit ninth, in the limbo area of the table, staring up at Norwich (oh no!) but down at Liverpool (ha ha!). With nine so far they are the PL’s draw specialists along with Everton. They’re tight in defence, speedy on the flanks and don’t only score from throw-ins, mostly because Delap is out with an Inguinal Hernia which sounds like someone we’ll be linked with in the transfer window more than anything. They’re unbeaten in seven.
Villas-Boas may have a selection dilemma or two with Bale and Dawson possibly available as well as Parker of course. Adebayor’s injury last weekend looked serious enough to possibly keep him out for a few games, something that could become very annoying, very quickly if Defoe loses his head again soon; JD is currently on four yellow cards, one reaction to the treatment of Shawcross et al and we’ll possibly be strikerless for the visit to Villa Park on Wednesday.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see Dawson instead of Gallas, given the likely angle and altitude of any Stoke attacks and Bale to come in as a straight replacement for Adebayor. With Sandro and Dembele on form and Parker waiting in the wings there’s no reason why we should be bullied into submission in this one. They’re obviously pretty tight defensively, only 11 conceded in 17, so we’ll need to less wasteful than against Swansea but assuming that’s the case, we should have enough to beat them.
Lee Mason is the referee. COYS.
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