After the minor inconvenience of an international break, the Premier League resumes this weekend with a full batch of fixtures. Stoke City face 7th placed Tottenham who won one and drew two in their opening three fixtures.
Stoke will be eager to gain some momentum and lift themselves off the foot of the table where they languish with just one point.
According to Stoke City.com, Xherdan Shaqiri is likely to miss Saturday’s 3 o’clock kick off at the Bet 365 Stadium due to a niggling calf injury. It is possible that Glenn Johnson could feature after missing last month’s game against Everton. Seven players took part in International fixtures over the break and all are reported to have returned injury-free.
Other than that, apart from Jack Butland’s ankle keeping him out for the next few months, Mark Hughes should have a relatively full squad to choose from with marquee signing Wilfred Bony looking set to make his debut up front.
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Stoke will be looking to avenge the 0-4 defeat in April which featured a brace from two of Spur’s key creative assets; Deli Ali and Harry Kane. Kane has yet to score this season and has looked off the mark so far. Nonetheless, Spurs have plenty of players who can cause Stoke problems this weekend.
Key battles will be won or lost in midfield where Spurs’ new deadline day signing Moussa Sissoko will look to make his debut. He will add drive and a touch of creative dynamism to the Spurs midfield. Should he play like he did in some of France’s Euro 2016 games this Summer, Stoke will need to be well prepped to stop Tottenham breaking forward with the fast paced style Pocchetino is known for.
Key to breaking up play in the middle of the park will be new signing Joe Allen. Previously played as a holding midfielder at Liverpool, he can also create chances and scored his first International goal for Wales on Monday night.
Speaking in the Daily Mail, Joe Allen said, ‘the likes of Shaquiri, Arnautovic, Bojan made it really appealing to me and was one of the big reasons I signed there…….Now everyone is talking about the impact Bony will have at Stoke’.
It all needs to click in place for both these teams on Saturday afternoon. A goal from one of Stoke’s much-lauded front line would not only banish memories of a painful defeat last time out but also give momentum to a team sorely in need of it. Stoke have won only one of their previous ten Premier League meetings and Mark Hughes will be desperate to show his team have their sights set on exceeding last season’s ninth placed finish.