There are occasional times throughout the season when you cannot help but wish that you had the foresight to predict these unlikely situations which present themselves, and preferably to have had a little flutter on it. One such instance is Sunday’s clash between Stoke City and Tottenham. I imagine the odds on this being a clash between the Premier League’s bottom two teams would have been pretty long at the start of the season.
If any of you did bet money on this, then congratulations are in order but maybe a trip to a psychiatrist too. Unlikely as it may have seemed this match is as close as you can get to a relegation battle when you are only seven games into a season.
Perhaps Stoke’s predicament is to be expected. Indeed the most surprising aspect is that they are the second-bottom team going into this clash rather than bottom. Many people expected them to be the worst team in Premier League history, but they have equipped themselves very well so far. They do fill me with a sense of deja-vu though.
If you can cast your minds back to the days before Derby Country were a laughing stock with Paul Jewell proclaiming this publicly on a weekly basis, the Rams actually made a decent start to their season in the top-flight. Granted they were given spankings by Liverpool, Tottenham (yes, that Tottenham) and Arsenal, which Stoke have not received yet, but apart from that they beat Newcastle and were losing games by narrow margins. The consensus among many pundits was that they were on the verge of a breakthrough and just needed a bit more luck.
There are parallels with Stoke. The Potters picked up an expected victory against Aston Villa and a draw against Liverpool. Other than that they have generally recorded defeats by the odd goal. Again the pundits are saying they just need a bit more luck to convert those narrow defeats into draws or even victories.
Tottenham, on the other hand… It is difficult to know where to begin since so much has already been written. Two points from seven games is not the start they had in mind after a pretty impressive pre-season. A game against a physical Stoke side is not the ideal pick-me-up for a side low on confidence.
In many ways the odds are stacked in Stoke’s favour. It is a perfect opportunity for them to pick up that elusive second victory and steer clear of the Derby blueprint. Having said that, this is a game which Spurs would be expecting to win whatever the circumstances.
Who do you expect to see propping up the table on Sunday evening?