Spurs V Stoke at White Hart Lane : Match Preview

29 December 2013 11:49
Spurs V Stoke - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Eriksen - We must take our chances

Christian Eriksen admits Tottenham's poor home form will continue unless they become more clinical in front of goal.

Tottenham dropped to eighth in the Barclays Premier League on Boxing Day as Tim Sherwood's first game as permanent head coach ended in a disappointing 1-1 draw against West Brom.

A smattering of boos rang out at the final whistle, and having not witnessed a home win in the league since October 27, it is easy to understand why a number of Tottenham fans were unhappy.

By this time last season Tottenham had scored 14 goals in five home victories. This year they have managed three wins and have found the net just eight times. Two of those goals came from free-kicks while another two came from the penalty spot.

Spurs used to build their season around their home form, but the Londoners have not been at their best at White Hart Lane this season and Eriksen knows it.

"The home games are tough and we make them tougher for ourselves as well because we don't score," the Tottenham midfielder told Spurs TV.

"But we just have to keep working and we will get our chances, I think.

"We just have to open the game up and make our goals. Against West Brom we had the chances to score goals. If we score it will be a much easier game to win."

Eriksen accepts that away teams do not go all-out attack at White Hart Lane, but Spurs will have to find a way of getting around that problem if they are to become a permanent member of the Barclays Premier League's elite.

The fact that Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal have all been able to do that over the last decade shows why they have spent so long at the top.

Still, with Sherwood in charge, the chances of Spurs breaking down defensive-minded opposition may improve.

Sherwood makes no apologies about his commitment to playing attacking football and there were times on Boxing Day, and more so at Southampton last weekend, when watching Tottenham play was an enjoyable experience.

Sherwood is conscious that he is now managing a club whose icons include Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles and Paul Gascoigne.

That does not mean he is all for kamikaze football, however. If Spurs retain the ball better, then they will not be as vulnerable to attack as they were against the Baggies, Sherwood argues.

"I expect the fans want (attacking football) as they have been brought up on that," Sherwood said.

"It's the way I see the game being played. I want to see bodies being thrown forward.

"At the moment it's not exactly how I want it. I think we need to win the ball higher up the field. The West Brom game turned into a little bit of a basketball match at times.

"We want to win that ball up high as we possibly can so we can give the supporters wave after wave of attack."

Etienne Capoue - a France international in the mould of the famed Claude Makelele - has been kicking his heels ever since Sherwood took over.

The Englishman has preferred to use the likes of Mousa Dembele, Lewis Holtby and Eriksen in the centre, and Sherwood's response to those who say a team needs a holding midfielder is simple.

He said: "We have enough defensive-minded players on the field.

"When you are at home, if you pass the ball well enough, your passing is good and your decision making is good then you win the game."

Stoke's weaknesses were exposed against Newcastle on Boxing Day when they were crushed 5-1 after having two men sent off.

Sherwood is unsure how the Potters will respond when they come to White Hart Lane on Sunday though.

"It could be a dent in confidence but on the other hand it could spur them on," Sherwood said.

"But I can't see them coming here and being open to get beat like that again.

"We expect them to play pretty much the same (as West Brom did) so hopefully we can show a little bit more quality in and around the final third and open them up."

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has warned Tottenham to beware his wounded side as they attempt to bounce back from a horror show at Newcastle.

The Potters head for White Hart Lane still smarting from a dismal Boxing Day visit to Tyneside, where they were beaten 5-1 in highly controversial circumstances.

Indeed, such is their enduring anger over events at St James' Park, where midfielder Glenn Whelan and defender Marc Wilson were sent off inside three first-half minutes, chairman Peter Coates has indicated the club's intention to make an official complaint over referee Martin Atkinson's handling of the game.

In the meantime, Hughes, who has been charged with improper conduct by the Football Association after being sent to the stands for his reaction to Whelan's dismissal, faces the task of preparing his team for another tough assignment, but is sure of getting a response.

He told the club's official website, www.stokecityfc.com: "We are exasperated by the events of Boxing Day, but we have another game coming our way very quickly, which I think is a good thing for us.

"Obviously we will be without a few players now, but we still have players who have the quality to go to Tottenham and cause them a lot of problems.

"It is hugely disappointing to be here now with nothing to show for our performance against Newcastle, because I really thought that there was only one team that looked like winning that game when it was 11v11, and that was us.

"It does hurt and it isn't a fair reflection of the game on our players, but we will use our frustrations to our advantage and look to get the result we want in London on Sunday."

Hughes' confidence is founded on an opening half-hour or so at St James' during which the visitors took the game to their high-flying hosts and deservedly went ahead through Oussama Assaidi's fine 29th-minute strike.

But the rush of cards ruined their hopes of returning with something to show for their efforts and the Magpies brutally exploited their numerical disadvantage to run out comfortable winners.

Despite Thursday's defeat, which was their first in five attempts in the Barclays Premier League, Stoke remained in 10th place heading into the weekend's fixtures.

Sunday's opponents are currently two places, but 10 points better off, although they could only draw 1-1 at home to West Brom on Boxing Day and will be looking for more this time around to claw their way into the top six.

Whelan and Wilson are suspended as a result of their red cards at Newcastle, while first-choice keeper Asmir Begovic could be sidelined for up to six weeks after breaking a finger in training on Christmas Day.

Hughes said: "We will be without both of them. It's not ideal, but that is the way it is and we have to get on with it.

"They will miss this game, as will Asmir, who looks likely to be out for between four and six weeks.

"The match will more than likely come too soon for Robert [Huth] as well, so we will have to make a couple of changes to the team."

Veteran Thomas Sorensen deputised for Begovic against the Magpies and saved a Loic Remy penalty, although Jack Butland's return from his loan spell at Barnsley means Hughes has options.

Source: PA