Three vital Premier League points are on the line in Stoke vs Spurs so lets look at the keys to cracking the Potters.
Mauricio Pochettino hasn’t had the best of luck against Stoke. Two defeats last season, and two red cards, was followed by a 2-2 draw early on in this campaign. With three points an absolute necessity from Stoke vs Spurs this time, we look at how to crack the men from the Potteries.
Scoring from wide areas
Stoke are in the midst of another good season, but they have been vulnerable to teams that can get at and beyond their full backs. The reason for this is two-fold.
The first is that they often pinch their full backs in towards their back four. This is an attempt to turn opponents in to crossing teams so that the physically dominant Ryan Shawcross and Phillip Wollscheid can clear.
An example from their 1-0 loss to Liverpool shows how they tuck their full backs in, leaving Jonathan Walters and Ibrahim Afellay to track and cover outside. The middle of the pitch is packed with seven defenders.
This should be a strength, but is often vulnerable, as Ryan Shawcross has frequently been out injured. On top of this they are now without Jack Butland who is a sizeable keeper and good on crosses.
The second reason why opponents need to get in to these wide areas, especially down the right, is that Stoke have been without Glen Johnson. With him in the side this flank was well defended, without him, it has been a source of much joy for their opponents.
Take Stoke’s last Premier League match, a 4-1 loss to Liverpool. The Reds scored three times from getting in down the right side and then once with a cross from the left.
In Stoke’s previous match with Swansea City, the Swans looked dead and buried at 2-0 down, creating very little. On came left winger Jefferson Montero and he was a pest with his speed and direct dribbling down the Stoke right. Sigurdsson pulled one goal back and Paloschi tied the game up, as Swansea scored from both full back zones.
Stoke’s previous home match to the Swansea game and this time it was Southampton that were getting in to the full back zones to score. The first was earned from a corner that Southampton forced by getting in down the Stoke right. The second also came from the right as a quick, short pass inside from Dusan Tadic was curled home by Graziano Pelle.
Stoke have had a real weakness to teams that can get in down the flanks, especially their right. The Tottenham tactics for Stoke vs Spurs should be focussing on this, which makes the players on our left key. I expect Mauricio Pochettino will continue with Christian Eriksen drifting inside, meaning that Danny Rose has to have a big game.
Stopping the Stoke attack
Stoke are dangerous because they get men in the box. They have their forward players split the centre backs to cause confusion as to who is marking whom and work in the spaces.
We saw them do this on all three goals last season as they won 3-0 at the Britannia. This was the second where N’Zonzi, Diouf and Walters look to fill and run the lanes in-between our back four.
Fast-forward three months to this season’s 2-2 encounter at White Hart Lane and they were at it again.
Both the Stoke goals that day arrived from them doing exactly the same thing, filling the lanes with three players splitting our centre backs. Toby Alderweireld fouled Joselu for a cheap penalty to get them back in it at 2-1. Mame Biram Diouf then equalized after good work by Stephen Ireland.
In their last home match with Swansea, we can see them at it again on their opening goal, as Ibrahim Afellay ends up in space to turn the cross home.
Overloading the centre backs with three players running the lanes in-between them has been a key to Stoke’s season. Stopping them from doing it is an imperative part of the Tottenham tactics for Stoke vs Spurs and Eric Dier needs to play a big role here. Dier dropping in-between Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen can stop this from happening.
The Kane pull effect
When we played Stoke at White Hart Lane, Harry Kane dropping off the front pulled the Stoke centre backs out and allowed others to run beyond him.
It was a highly effective tactic that saw us score a goal – from the Kane pass to Ben Davies running beyond him shown above. It also saw us create several other good chances, most notably a clean through 1v1 for Ryan Mason.
If getting in to the wide areas isn’t working to expose their full backs, as their centre backs are dealing with it, then this would be a solid plan B.
Stoke vs Spurs outlook
Stoke have been surprisingly indifferent at the Britannia this season. There last six games here, where they have won two, drawn two and lost two, has been a reflection of their home form and they’ve often looked better away.
The key needs to be getting in to the wide areas to attack the space that the full backs can often leave, especially down the Stoke right. Danny Rose and Kyle Walker will be the main protagonists in doing this. Winning three vital Premier League points could hinge on how successful their forward raids are.
Stoke vs Spurs prediction: Stoke 1-2 Spurs.
Stoke vs Spurs betting
There are a few bets to be had on Stoke vs Spurs and here are some I’ve made.