Spurs back in top four hunt with demolition of Stoke
Pochettino says Spurs are not in a negative spiral after breaking run of league games without a win
09 December, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
FA Premier League
SPURS 5 (Shawcross 21 OG, Son 53, Kane 54, 65, Eriksen 74)
STOKE CITY 1 (Shawcross 80)
IF Spurs have any hope of bringing Champions League football to the new White Hart Lane next season, then home games against the likes of Stoke City have to be nailed on three pointers. Mauricio Pochettino’s team must take advantage of rivals having hiccups – Chelsea’s unexpected defeat at the hands of West Ham earlier today (Saturday), for example. Then they can be in the right position where the six-pointer games against top sides genuinely matter.
Tottenham have been in a rut, not winning in four Premiership matches, but today they came up against a pliant Stoke City and football was once again something to be enjoyed rather than endured for the home fans. Perhaps, now, they can go into the Christmas period with some renewed confidence and claw their way back into top four contention.
A Harry Kane double, strikes from Heung Min Son and Christian Eriksen and a Ryan Shawcross own goal made this as easy a game as Spurs will experience all season – and but for the brilliance of City goalkeeper Jack Butland, Mark Hughes’s team could have been on the end of a record breaking defeat.
Pochettino was required to shuffle his tactics, dispensing with a back three after Davinson Sanchez’s red card at Watford last week and Toby Alderweireld still out with a hamstring injury. Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen were at the heart of the defence, and they ambled through the afternoon comfortably.
It also gave Spurs a more fluid look about their attack – suggesting when Pochettino has a full rota to choose from, a back four might be more suitable to his team’s strengths. Speaking after the game, Pochettino said he was pleased how his team started. He said: “We were focussed, we concentrated from the beginning. The first goal is always important – if you score first you can believe more and approach the game in a different way. The last few games we have gone behind and that has made it difficult.”
He added the result would give his side extra confidence when they play Brighton on Wednesday and then head to Manchester City next Saturday. He shrugged off the idea his side were in a downward spiral He added: “I had no doubt about this team. I trust in them. It is true we have had some not so good moments, but it happens in every team. I felt across the team we played well – but maybe not better than we did against West Brom, Watford or Arsenal. The big difference is we scored at a good time.”
Spurs took the lead on 21 through an own goal by City skipper Ryan Shawcross. Son had done well to create space on the left and it was his zipped ball across the six yard box that caused trouble. Shawcross, under pressure from the lurking Dele Alli, got his head to the ball but could only turn it past Butland.
On 36, you’d have bet the new stadium on Kane finishing when the excellent Son played him in centrally, but the usually calm finisher dragged his effort wide. The flood gates, however, opened after the break. Alli played Son in on a swift counter to tuck home and then two minutes later Kane killed any lingering hopes Stoke may have harboured with a powerful back post header.
It was four on the hour: Eriksen broke down the right and looked to find Son ghosting in. The ball squirted loose on the edge of the box and Kane was on hand to finish clincally. The fifth came on 74 minutes via Eriksen on the break.
Shawcross got one back from a deep corner. Stoke’s players hardly acknowledged it. They knew by then they had been well beaten.
SPURS: Lloris, Trippier, Vertonghen, Son (Llorente, 85) Kane, Dier, Dembele, Alli (Lamela, 65), Eriksen, Winks (Sissoko, 77), Davies.
Subs not used: Vorm, Rose, Foyth, Aurier.
STOKE CITY: Butland, Pieters, Allen (Afellay, 79) Wimmer, Zouma, Choupo-Moting, Shawcross, Diouf, Shaqirir, Fletcher, Edwards
Subs not used: Grant, Beranhino, Adam, Cameron, Crouch, Sobhi.
Attendance: 62,202 (Spurs playing home matches at Wembley)