After a run of 10 wins in 11, and six in a row, the true connoisseur does not really want the record to grind to a halt against Stoke. Against Barcelona maybe, or the Harlem Globe Trotters – but not Stoke.
Stoke are actually a member of that elite and highly exclusive band of English teams that have indeed beaten us this season (cast thine mind back to our peculiar Carling Cup exit a few months back). Given our tendency to panic in the face of set-pieces, this lot could pose problems from their Delap uber-throws, while leading their line is a familiar-looking chap of elongated proportions, Peter Crouch now allowing the ball to bounce unpredictably off his angular cranium in the red and white of Stoke. It all points to a side at the very opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum. Beauty and Beast. He-Man and Skeletor. Tottenham and Stoke.
Still, the drill for our heroes does not differ from week to week – swarm all over them from the off, and take a few of the plethora of chances we’ll doubtless create. Empirical evidence suggests that it is a winning formula.
On the personnel front Gallas may again deputise for Ledley, while Defoe and Bale have chipped fingernails and tummy aches, but even so our lot ought blinking well to prevail. The VDV-Defoe question may once again be an issue; it should matter not. Defend well enough and up the other end the goals will flow.