With teams returning from the International break, Tottenham and Stoke face each other for the 17th time in the Premier League on Saturday. Spurs have won 8 of those meetings with 5 of them coming at Stoke, the most recent being a four-nil win last season. Stoke will be trying to improve on 9th place this season, having finished there in each of the last three seasons. Mark Hughes is in his fourth season in charge and has slowly changed the way Stoke play, introducing a less direct style. Bringing in more skillful individuals such as Bojan, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic, who was their top scorer last season. During the summer they added to their squad with Joe Allen from Liverpool and promising Egyptian youngster Ramadan Sobhi. They had a busy deadline day where they added striker Wilfried Bony, defender Bruno Martins Indi and goalkeeper Lee Grant. Spurs also left some of their transfer dealings late with the signing of Moussa Sissoko for a reported fee of £30M, they also finally confirmed Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and the season loan of goalkeeper Pau Lopez.
Stoke like to line up in a 4-3-3 formation or a 4-2-3-1 depending on personnel, they have a solid midfield and are comfortable in possession. They like to build their attacks and the creative players have more license to express themselves in the final third. However, they have kept their aggression and should make for an excellent battle against Spurs. They shared 123 yellow cards and 445 fouls between them, with Stoke adding 4 red cards. Last season Spurs were putting teams under more pressure higher up the pitch and were engaging the opposition with more purpose and aggression. Spurs will line up in a 4-2-3-1, Pochettino will have a few decisions to make now he has a squad with better competition for places. It will be interesting to see if either new signings will feature from the start or from the bench. The question remains where Sissoko’s best position is either central midfield or any of the front three positions behind the striker. What he does bring to the squad is much-needed pace and adds to the strength already in the squad. In thirty-seven appearances last season he made 57 key passes, with eight assists and one goal. He managed an 85% tackle success rate which is better than all the other current Spurs midfielders. N'Koudou is a pacey winger who can operate on either flank, he offers a different dimension to Spurs attacks with his ability to take on an opponent. He scored five goals in twenty-eight appearances last season, leading him to finish 30th in the UEFA Best Player in Europe poll. Christian Eriksen put pen to paper on a new four-year deal this week, there had been some summer speculation about whether he would sign a new one but he commented; “thrilled to commit my future to this amazing club” through his Twitter account.
Stoke are still looking for their 1st win of the campaign with two losses and a draw, Spurs remain unbeaten with two draws and a win. Spurs had five players called up for England’s late win over Slovakia with four of them starting, Walker, Rose, Dier and Kane with Dele coming on from the bench. Sixteen members of the Spurs squad have been selected for International duty, with nine from Stoke City. At this early stage of the season Stoke find themselves bottom of the league, one of five teams who have a single point so far. Spurs are sitting in seventh, joining Middlesbrough on five points.
Here's how the two sides may line up:
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