Spurs vs. Stoke City
Venue: White Hart Lane
Kick off: 3pm
Two sides that will be looking to make amends for losses in their opening matches of the season go head-to-head when Stoke City travel to White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.
Both were on the wrong side of 1-0 scorelines in their first league matches of the 2015-16 campaign, leaving them yet to get off the mark in the top flight this season.
Mauricio Pochettino will be keen to see his side move on from their 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford last time out, which saw Kyle Walker secure the dubious honour of becoming the first player to score an own goal to open the scoring in the first match of a Premier League season.
The North London side remain short of options up front, with the boss confirming that Emmanuel Adebayor does not feature in his first team plans, while Roberto Soldado was pictured travelling to Spain ahead of a potential move to Villarreal, leaving Harry Kane as the club’s only recognised striker.
Lyon forward, Clinton N’Jie, has been linked with the club, and could complete a deal in time for this weekend’s match, according to reports, which claim that a fee has already been agreed between the two sides.
With goal-scoring options seemingly at a premium, the defence will need to be clinical for Tottenham.
However, the club struggled at the back last season, letting in 53 goals and keeping just nine clean sheets, giving them the 16th best record in the league.
Spurs loss to Louis van Gaal’s side last time out leaves them with just one win from their last five outings, which was a 2-0 win in a pre-season friendly against AC Milan, which followed losses to Real Madrid, MLS All Stars and League One’s Peterborough United.
After a sluggish start against Man United, Tottenham did start to show more intent in the closing stages of the match at Old Trafford, but a string of late saves from Sergio Romero ensured that they did not secure a draw.
Stoke City almost did enough for a point in their first outing of the new term last weekend, but a late goal from Philippe Coutinho handed Liverpool a narrow win at the Britannia Stadium.
That match was watched by Swiss international, Xherdan Shaqiri, who became the club’s record signing less than 48 hours later, penning a four-year contract with the club after they agreed a £12 million fee with Inter Milan.
Chairman Peter Coates has admitted that Shaqiri is likely to be the final new arrival at the Britannia Stadium this summer.
It has been a busy transfer window for Stoke, with 11 new permanent signings coming in, along with Marco van Ginkel on loan from Chelsea.
Mark Hughes will be hoping that the winger’s arrival signals a change in luck for the side, who lost their last three pre-season friendlies as well as their meeting with Brendan Rodgers’s side last Sunday, leaving them on a four-match losing run.
Like their opponents, Stoke are one of just five Premier League sides who did not find the back of the net in their opening match of the season, so they will be hoping to return to last year’s form in front of goal, which saw the team score 48 goals.
Defending was a major part of Stoke’s success last year, letting in just 45 goals, the seventh fewest in the league, to help the club secure a top-half finish in the table, but they have lost first-choice keeper Asmir Begovic over the summer.
Barring an injury setback in training, Stoke will surely be keen to flaunt new signing Shaqiri on their visit to White Hart Lane.
The visitors do have a number of injury concerns though, with Hughes admitting that he wants Bojan Krkic to spend more time regaining match fitness with the Under-21s after missing the second half of last season with a knee ligament injury, while Peter Odemwingie has been ruled out after picking up a hamstring strain.
Ryan Shawcross will still be out as he recovers from a back injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for a couple of months, but Erik Pieters should be able to come back in after recovering from an illness that forced him off at half time against Liverpool, while Marko Arnautovic could return after missing out last week with a hip problem.
By contrast, Pochettino reported that all of his players are fit for his side’s first home match of the campaign, which means goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and defender Danny Rose could both return after sitting out the game at Old Trafford with lingering injuries.
However, Adebayor is almost certain to miss out following the manager’s admission that he does not feature in his plans, while Soldado may have completed his move to Villarreal by kickoff.
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup: Lloris, Rose, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Mason, Bentaleb, Dembele, Eriksen, Chadli, Kane.
Stoke City possible starting lineup: Butland, Johnson, Cameron, Muniesa, Pieters, Van Ginkel, Whelan, Walters, Adam, Shaqiri, Diouf.