Stoke City vs Tottenham Hotspur: Preview

20 Sep

Carling CupCarling Cup – 3rd Round
Date: 20 September 2011 Kick-off: 19:45
Venue: Britannia Stadium (Stoke-on-Trent)
Radio:

The League Cup, or Carling Cup as it is currently known. What an interesting competition. Over the years teams have begun to deem this competition as something between an irritation and an irrelevance, which appeared to start with Arsene Wenger fielding his favourite little boys. We have seen clubs use the competition to blood youngsters and give a game to experienced players unable to get a game in the league. Despite the fact this competition has never had the glamour or romance of the F.A. Cup, it remains a sad fall from grace… or does it?

We have reached the stage now where the league is all important, the riches on offer are vast and the rewards for reaching the Champions League huge. Despite the squad limits now in place there are a number of younger and fringe players who struggle to get a game when the first 11 is fully fit. Whilst this is rare at Spurs, players like Bassong, Giovani and Pavlyuchenko may be called upon at important times to cover for suspended and injured players. Short of match fitness, these guys will probably not do us, or themselves any favours, meaning the Carling Cup is an ideal competition to get these guys some minutes. Gallas and Sandro, on their way back from injury, will also benefit from minutes on the pitch, without the pressure or risks associated with playing in the Premier League. Finally, those youngsters, many of whom have played in Europe’s equivalent of the Carling Cup (The Europa League) will also get the chance to add to their appearances in the Lilywhite.

It’s wrong to assume that it’s easy to win the thing. Whilst the early rounds are populated by sides big and small playing younger teams to protect their stars, once the competition reaches the final stages, the big guns will come out to play. For a club like Spurs it’s certainly a serious prospect. We can take advantage of weakened opposition and we know in a one-off game we can beat anyone, 2008 proved that and maintained our record of winning a trophy at least every 10 years which stretches back to 1951. The evidence is there, though, that despite not always showing the competition the highest level of respect in the early stages that big clubs often do win this competition. (Chelsea – ’05, ’08; Manchester United ’06, ’09, ’10; Spurs ’08), Birmingham bucked the trend last season beating Arsenal 2-1.

Lets try and get through this and have a proper run at it

Obviously we won’t be fielding our strongest team here, but this is a trophy we can win, I want to see us have a good go at it. Given that last season was our ‘year ending in 1’ chance, which we didn’t take, it’s about time we started some new traditions. If we can win it playing the lads most of the way through that will be a great achievement.

Stoke might have 2 metre Peter up front, which is obviously not too much of a worry for us, perhaps more of a concern is if they decide to play the man Crouchaldinho has replaced, the significantly more effective Kenwyne Jones, who may be out to prove a point. Regardless, if he plays it will be great to see Jonathan Woodgate again, a player I was less happy to see leaving the Lane.

I don’t really care about the Carling Cup

If we go out I won’t be sad, it will ensure that we are not over-committed, particularly towards the end of this year and the start of next when everything starts to get serious. However, games = revenue and more importantly, as I have mentioned, it means the younger lads and others will get some games.

Stoke

Stoke’s tactics aren’t subtle, but they certainly are effective. We’ve dealt with Delap’s throws well in past games, but with a less experienced side on the pitch it will be interesting to see how we get on, regardless of which large/beanpole striker they play.

Spurs’ Team News

It looks like Sandro and William Gallas will each get a run out on their way back from injury, as will Rafa. In addition, Gomes, Bassong, Corluka and Pav all look like getting a game. It will be interesting to see which of the younger players will get a chance, although given performances so far Harry Kane and Tom Carroll both look like candidates and Livermore needs a game to keep up his momentum.

Injuries: Michael Dawson, Danny Rose, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone, Aaron Lennon.

Stokes Team News

Glancing at Stoke’s website and the BBC suggests Stoke do not have any injury worries.

Tom Soares, Danny Pugh and Michael Tonge were all omitted from Stoke’s Premier League squad, suggesting that they may get a run out in the Carling Cup.

Prediction

I’m not super optimistic about this game, but I am hopeful. I’m going to go for a 2-0 Spurs win, despite this being a difficult away game.

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