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Stoke v Spurs: Preview, Preferred Team and Predicted Score

It was surprising to hear that Harry Redknapp is interested in the Carling Cup. Having made his disdain for the Europa League clear due to its allegedly crazy scheduling, it may have been expected he’d think the same of a trophy where Spurs are playing just 48 hours after a Premier League fixture.

But Redknapp said “We want to stay in the competition, we want to win and go all the way if we can,” he went on to say “We could have Sandro and William Gallas back, Pav needs another game, van der Vaart is back, Gomes, Bassong, Corluka – that’s not a bad team, is it?” and finished by saying  “One or two of the youngsters will get another chance as well.”

It really is encouraging to hear these words from Redknapp, after all the game is about glory. For me at least, glory equals silverware, after all in years to come the record books will show who won the trophies in a given season but they won’t mention who came fourth.

So onto Stoke then. Tony Pulis has done a fantastic job in establishing Stoke in the Premier League and has also started to evolve his side from their brutish image.  Of course adding a bunch of ex-Spurs players is going to help in playing better football. Matty Etherington was already at Stoke but has now been joined by Johnathan Woodgate, Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch. I won’t pretend to know enough about Tony Pulis’ plans for his team and whether he’s intending on taking the Carling Cup seriously but it seems certain that at least one ex-Spur will be present. Therefore whoever it is, is likely to score against us. That’s just one of those unwritten rules of football. Stoke are coming into this match on the back of a 4-0 beating at the hands of Sunderland and Pulis’ team are nothing if not proud and will look to set the record straight.

Spurs themselves are also coming into this one after a 4-0 result, this time a fantastic win over Liverpool at The Lane on Sunday. It was encouraging to see the majority of pundits seeing the truth of this result and that Spurs were far superior to Liverpool even before the two red cards.

As Redknapp himself has said, there will be many changes but even so confidence in the squad must be high and this really is a good opportunity to get a good result and aim to make waves in this competition. One area of concern is the goalkeeper. Gomes didn’t look good against Hearts and hasn’t featured since, he was set to play against PAOK but Redknapp changed his mind at the last minute. This seems a strange move on the face of it, Stoke are a team who have serious aerial power and crosses and set pieces are the biggest weakness of the Brazilian keeper and this could leave him and his team exposed. It could however be a move to expose him to as much of the rough stuff and crosses as possible in a sink or swim kind of style. Risky, but if it comes off it could inspire Gomes to new heights and help the defence gain confidence in him.

Michael Dawson, Aaron Lennon, Steven Pienaar, Tom Huddlestone and Danny Rose all remain sidelined with injuries. That leaves this as the likeliest line up if Gallas and Sandro come through their fitness tests:

Gomes; Corluka; Gallas; Basssong; Townsend; Van der Vaart (or Dos Santos); Sandro; Livermore; Kranjcar(or Falque); Kane; Pavlyuchenko.

If Pavlyuchenko does get another chance then he really has to improve on his appalling run outs in the Europa League so far this season. If the Russian doesn’t turn it on then he could well find himself well and truly off Redknapp’s Christmas card list.

My Prediction:

Neither manager will want extra time and penalties so it promises to be an open game with some good attacking football. If the team looks anything like the one suggested above then I can see Spurs being able to get a positive result. That’s not to write Stoke off but Spurs should have enough of a mix of experience and youthful exuberance to get a 3-1 win.


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