SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2016
STOKE CITY 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(1)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: P Kirkup, G Beswick
Fourth official: J Moss
Stoke (4-2-3-1):- Given; Cameron, Shawcross (Capt.), Martins Indi, Pieters; Whelan (sub Krkic, 67), Imbula (sub Adam, 71); Walters, Allen, Arnautovic; Bony
Subs not used:- Grant; Bardsley, Muniesa; Ramadan, Crouch
Booked:- Whelan (foul on Alli), Arnautovic (simulation), Adam (foul on Alli)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Wanyama (sub Lamela, 55); Eriksen (sub Sissoko, 78), Alli, Son; Kane (sub Janssen, 73)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Carter-Vickers; Winks
Booked:- Wanyama (foul on Allen), Sissoko (foul on Pieters)
Lightning DOES strike twice!
Mark Hughes’ Stoke City were no doubt smarting from their 4-0 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur less than 5 months ago in what was then The Britannia Stadium, but which is now the bet365 Stadium. The home side started brightly, whereas Spurs were tentative, but well before the end of the game, it was the away team and their 3,000 fans who were smiling – and even laughing at a couple of incidents during the game. Mark Hughes was sent off in the first half for dissent and also for leaving the technical area. He was not happy with referee Anthony Taylor when he booked Marko Arnautovic for simulation. Spurs fans saw the funny side when Hughes could not find a way from the dug-out into the stand, and had to do a “walk of shame” into the tunnel in the corner of the ground near the away fans. The other big laugh for Spurs fans was the announcement of the “Stoke man of the match” Joe Allen, who received sarcastic cheers and applause from the travelling fans who gleefully chanted “There’s only one Joe Allen”.
Despite the fact he scored two goals and had one assist, I wouldn’t automatically choose Son Heung-min as the man of the match. He made a number of poor touches in-between his telling contributions to the game, but of course, he did have a memorable day. I await the Spurs Odyssey survey results to confirm your choice of man of the match. Hugo Lloris returned for Michel Vorm, and Ben Davies was required in place of the injured Danny Rose. Whilst the resting of Erik Lamela was anticipated, we did think that Moussa Sissoko and not Son would get the nod today. Poch knows best. Sissoko did make a late appearance, and the other anticipated substitutes, Lamela and Janssen also came off the bench.
Harry Kane scored his first goal of the season (it would have been a heinous sin if he had missed the chance set up by Son) to complete a second consecutive 4-0 rout of the home side. Lightning does strike twice! This is the first time Spurs have beaten a Premier League side 4-0 away twice in a league match, thus confirming their record of having the best away record against Stoke of any Premier League side. We did beat Aston Villa 4-0 away in two consecutive games in 2012 and 2013, but one of those games was a League Cup win.
That man Joe Allen played a more advanced midfield role than I anticipated and even got ahead of home debutant Wilfried Bony on one occasion in the first half. In the early stages, it was Stoke who looked more determined. They attacked more directly, with pace, often finding space within which to work, whilst Spurs were slow and pensive in their build-up, too often passing backwards and sideways, as is so often their wont. After only one minute, and after a Stoke throw, Joe Allen and Bony had an exchange before Bony’s shot was blocked. Arnautovic had the ball in the net after three minutes, but the flag had been up for a while, and Lloris saw the infringement for offside. Whelan got an early yellow card for a foul on Dele Alli. Imbula advanced through the middle and fed Arnautovic on the left. Spurs managed to clear the danger. Left back Pieters got forward and crossed from the left. Alderweireld conceded a corner. From which Whelan had a shot blocked. After another corner, several heads went up for the ball, which led to yet another Stoke corner with the ball hitting the top of the bar. Hugo Lloris held the final attempt on goal, possibly by Stoke captain Shawcross. Spurs were not looking much like winners at this stage.
Spurs finally had a shot on goal after 13 minutes when Son crossed and Wanyama tried from outside the area, but saw his attempt blocked. Stoke’s Jonathan Walters, playing a supporting role on the right flank, had a half chance when the ball reached him from the right, but he couldn’t get hold of the shot which was easily cleared.
Referee Anthony Taylor witnessed a contretemps between Arnautovic and Dier, and had words directed more at Arnautovic than the Spurs player. Spurs had a good attack after 19 minutes right from the back. Hugo fed the ball to Alderweireld, who fired the ball up the field to Eriksen. The Dane passed to Son, who got into the box and went down, but the referee was giving nothing here. After a Spurs throw from the right, Dele Alli had a good effort on goal but 40 year old Shay Given pushed the ball over for a Spurs corner. Given was making his 450th Premier League appearance today, to join an elite band of goalkeepers consisting of David James, Mark Schwarzer, and Brad Friedel.
Having dealt with Stoke’s early energy, Spurs started to make more headway. Wanyama started a move which continued through Alderweireld, before Son passed inside to Dele Alli, who fired wide. After 32 minutes Son was fouled and Eriksen took the free kick which was held by Given.
We then had the fun and games surrounding Arnautovic’s booking and Hughes’ sending-off, which seemed to have an effect upon the Stoke team. Spurs went one up in the 41st minute, when Son turned in Eriksen’s cross from the right. Son soon had another chance after an Eriksen cross. This shot was blocked, as was the follow-up attempt by Eric Dier. In the three minutes of added time Wanyama got a needless first booking of the season for a foul on Joe Allen deep in the Stoke half.
Stoke started the second half brightly, winning an early corner or two. Spurs had a chance on a breakaway when Harry Kane fielded a ball, feeding it to Alli, who clipped it to Eriksen, whose shot was saved at the cost of a corner. From the corner, Spurs had the ball on the bar, but a free kick had already been awarded. Spurs were starting to play some good football. An Eriksen deft touch sent Ben Davies away and his final cross gave Dele Alli a chance which was blocked. A shot by Arnautovic was blocked by Walker and from the corner Shawcross fired wide.
Spurs made the first substitution with Erik Lamela replacing Wanyama. Lamela had an immediate affect as the midfield was re-shaped with him on the right; Eriksen in the middle, with Son on the left. Alli slipped back to support Dier. Erik’s first touch must have been to provoke the move which led to Eriksen passing to Son in a position towards the left of the box. Son beat Given with an excellent right footed shot curved around the keeper to his left. Three minutes later, Spurs made an excellent break from the back, with Lamela threading a ball to Kyle Walker who had got in front. Walker crossed and Dele Alli hit an excellent shot – planted right of Given.
By now, perhaps before this point, Spurs fans had started singing “It’s happening again” to the Stoke fans, some of whom had already headed for the exits.
After a Spurs corner, taken by Eriksen, a Davies shot was actually deflected out by Eric Dier for a Stoke goal-kick. Alli received a ball from Son after another corner, and had Given diving to his left, only to be relieved by his defence managing to block the shot. Lamela gave Eriksen a chance which was saved. The Spurs rout was completed with 20 minutes to go. Eriksen crossed from the right. Kane failed to make contact, but the ball passed across the area to Son who returned it to give Kane the simplest of finishes to get off the mark for this season. Almost immediately, Kane was replaced by Janssen. The ever popular Charlie Adam (not) replaced Imbula. Adam did have a shot on target, but it was fodder for Lloris.
Eriksen was replaced by Sissoko, who was given a warm reception by the travelling fans. He immediately got involved after good work by Son and Lamela, before his cross/shot was pushed over by Given for a Spurs corner. Sissoko had some defensive work to do as he tried to chase Arnautovic at the other end. Arnautovic fried wide across goal. Bony also got a chance, but also fired wide. Sissoko got his first Spurs booking for a foul, and Adam also saw yellow, but there was no more excitement before referee Mr Taylor put the home team out of its agony.
Stoke remain bottom of the table after 4 games, which include two home defeats with four goals conceded in each of those games. Spurs remain unbeaten in their four games, and climb into the top four, with Everton still to play this week-end.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino is in the envious position of having plenty of options for Wednesday night’s Champions’ League game against Monaco. Personally I can’t wait for this game at Wembley in front of a record home crowd in England for any club game!
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