BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 29TH DECEMBER, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (1) STOKE CITY 0 (0)
Soldado (pen), 37
Referee:- Mr. K. Friend
Assistants:- Mr. S. Burt & Mr. S. Long
Fourth official:-Mr. M. Dean
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Naughton, Dawson (Capt.), Chiriches, Fryers; Lennon (sub Lamela, 75), Paulinho (sub Capoue, 62), Dembele, Eriksen; Adebayor (sub Chadli, 80), Soldado
Subs not used:- Friedel; Fredericks, Veljkovic; Bentaleb
Booked:- Dembele (Unsporting behaviour), Lamela (foul on Pieters)
Stoke (4-2-3-1):- Sorensen; Wilkinson (sub Muniesa, 81), Shawcross (Capt.), Cameron, Pieters; N'Zonzi, Palacios (sub Pennant, 68); Walters, Ireland (sub Adam, 50), Assaidi; Crouch
Subs not used:- Butland; Ness, Etherington, Jones
Booked:- Walters (foul on Dembele), Shawcross (unsporting behaviour)
Another nice three-goal win for Sherwood.
In the game of football, and in fact in the game of life there are lots of ups and downs. One gets the distinct impression that we will experience such a trend with Tim Sherwood in charge, but the fact is, he remains unbeaten in three Premier League games, and now, in two of those games, his Tottenham side has scored three goals. Such a feat had not been managed by Andre Villas-Boas this season.
Yes, it is true that the two home games were expected wins, and that we failed in one of those on Boxing Day. Perhaps the impressive 3-2 win at Southampton balances out the deficit against West Brom, but we all know what lies ahead in the coming week.
Today's team featured five changes from that which drew against West Brom. It still had no true defensive midfielder, but ultimately, it was enough to put paid to an underwhelming Stoke side with ease.
Kyle Walker was suspended, but Kyle Naughton, playing in his natural position, deputised admirably, having one of his best games for Spurs.
There was no sign of Danny Rose, who perhaps was being rested for Wednesday's game at Old Trafford. Zeki Fryers made his first Premier League start, and he too had a good game.
Paulinho returned from suspension, and he partnered Dembele in central midfield, who was returning from injury. Aaron Lennon made a welcome, and highly impressive return. The was some concern about Christian Eriksen playing wide on the left, but he coped with that switch very well.
Mark Hughes had to adjust, following the sending-off of Wilson and Whelan at Newcastle. He played a 4-2-3-1, with former Spur Wilson Palacios getting a somewhat rare outing. Peter Crouch was the lone striker, supported by Walters, Ireland and Assaidi from right to left.
Of these, I would describe Walters as the most impressive. He never gave up the fight, and his efforts led to one or two difficult moments for a Spurs defence, all too capable of twitchy moments.
The relatively small away section was very vocal, and it wasn't too long before they felt the referee and his assistants were totally against them. Stoke are still hurting over the Newcastle game, but there can be no argument about Kevin Friend's award of a first half penalty to Spurs.
Spurs won a free kick just outside the Stoke box within a minute, when Paulinho and Soldado combined. Soldado was fouled, but Eriksen hit the free kick straight into the wall.
Walters got goal-side of the Spurs defence from a break, and Fryers was the last man, who did "just enough" to prevent Walters getting a shot off. Spurs were well on top in the opening ten minutes, with nothing to show for their efforts. All the players were involved in high speed passing football, demonstrating plenty of movement too.
Stoke were very very much on the back foot for most of the time.
Naughton was the instigator of a lovely move after 14 minutes, sending what is something of a trademark pass inside the left back, for Lennon to race to reach near the bye-line. Adebayor got a touch with his attempt to make contact, but the ball carried on across the goal, and Eriksen's effort was saved by Sorensen, standing in for the injured Begovic.
Paulinho was playing with all his Brazilian style and it was working out for him virtually all the time. He flicked a ball for Soldado, who fired wide across goal from a position on the right.
It wasn't quite one-way traffic, and after an episode of twitchy defending, Adebayor carried the ball deep into the Stoke half, winning a corner. Fife minutes later, Eriksen managed to feed a ball through a mass of feet in the middle. Adebayor might have had a shot, but he passed on responsibility to the advancing Fryers, whose cross was held by the keeper.
Paulinho wanted a foul deep in the Stoke half, but Mr. Friend ignored him, allowing Stoke to break through Assaidi, who got into the Spurs area, and was stopped by a saving tackle by Michael Dawson.
Adebayor sent Lennon away with a great long ball to the right corner flag. Lennon crossed, but both Soldado and Adebayor failed to make contact.
Spurs took a deserved lead with a clear penalty, when Adebayor attempted a right footed swing at a cross from the right. Stoke skipper Ryan Shawcross had his arms up from the start, and it was an easy decision for the referee. Soldado stepped up and slotted home convincingly to Sorensen's right, scoring his fifth league goal of the season, four of which have been from the spot. He's an excellent penalty taker, that's for sure!
Paulinho picked up a loose ball deep in the Stoke half, taking it down the right channel, before firing well off target. Dawson made a great block tackle in the midfield, and Paulinho again took the ball onward.
He fed it to Lennon, but ultimately, his cross simply rebounded safely off Adebayor.
Within a minute of the re-start, Paulinho had a shot from the right side of the box, but it was wide. Eriksen had a wall pass with Soldado, but his shot was weak, and easy for Sorensen.
Hughes replaced one-time Man City starlet Stephen Ireland with Charlie Adam, who was fondly received (NOT) by the Spurs crowd who chanted "We know what you are"
Stoke's number 19- Walters - was booked for fouling our number 19, Dembele, after he had tried by various unfair means to bring a halt to Dembele's forward run. Both Dembele and Shawcross also got booked due to the row which broke after this incident. Eriksen's free kick was well over the target.
Adam took a Stoke free kick, and had a go at goal. Lloris's positioning did not look convincing to me,as he took the same side as the wall, but the ball went wide anyway.
Spurs had an exciting move featuring Dembele and Lennon advancing down the right, side by side. Lennon's cross was picked up by Soldado, but his shot was straight at the keeper.
Paulinho took a knock (hopefully nothing serious) and was replaced by Capoue. Dembele now combined with Eriksen down the left side, with this move culminating in an Eriksen shot saved by Sorensen at his right post.
Spurs increased their lead with a goal that was so well taken by Dembele, after good work by Lennon and Soldado on the right. Dembele twisted one way, then the other, and managed to find himself space to take a fine low shot that beat the keeper to his left.
It was soon 3-0 and game over after another good left side move, this time involving Eriksen and Soldado. Soldado's final ball was almost mis-cued by Adebayor, but it ran to Lennon on the right who hit a right foot shot that might have taken a deflection as it looped over Sorensen into the far corner. As we all know, we never lose when Lennon scores, so we were all able to relax after that.
Inevitably, Spurs did some of that relaxing, and Lennon received a great ovation, when he was replaced by Lamela. Lamela must have been taken by surprise with almost his first touch, after a poor defensive ball ran to Adebayor, who might have shot himself, but again passed on the mantle to Erik, whose shot was blocked for a corner.
Unfortunately, Newcastle could not quite hold Arsenal today, but it does mean we moved above them, into seventh place, level on points with Man Utd, who we meet on New Year's Day. Maybe I shouldn't have been so down-hearted after Thursday's draw, because United are again being touted as a threat to those teams in the top four.
If we can repeat our historic result of last season, we can call ourselves Champions League contenders again. Ha-ha!
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