Preview: Stoke City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Preview: Stoke vs. Spurs
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Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Mark Hughes's Stoke City and Christian Eriksen-inspired Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke City will attempt to contend with one of the Premier League's in-form players on Saturday when they host Christian Eriksen and Tottenham Hotspur.

During a period in which Spurs have been playing under a manager who has been sentenced to the sack, the Dane has somehow excelled in a team that has been plagued by inconsistency and defensive mistakes.

By scoring six goals and assisting seven more in the club's last nine games across all competitions, Eriksen has been the saviour of Tottenham's otherwise underwhelming £110m spending spree.

At £11m, the 22-year-old playmaker is proving to be a bargain and those teams that are regretting not outlaying that modest sum are now reportedly considering swooping for him at the end of the season.

Spurs manager Tim Sherwood, who is one man almost certain to be leaving White Hart Lane this summer despite winning more than half of his games in charge since being appointed on an 18-month contract in December, has admitted that there is likely to be interest in Eriksen when the transfer window reopens.

The Lillywhites will have no intention of selling, though, as they look to build a team around the former Ajax man, who has been given licence to roam in a free role behind Tottenham's two strikers.

Harry Kane is one of those who has thrived on his service since being given a first-team opportunity by Sherwood. The 20-year-old has netted three times in as many Premier League starts in April.

He is likely to play in an unchanged Tottenham lineup at the Britannia Stadium, with Zeki Fryers, another youngster who has been promoted by Sherwood, retaining his place in defence ahead of Vlad Chiriches.

One man who the 45-year-old does not seemingly rate, though, is Sandro, the Brazilian international whom he claimed was "not good enough to get in my team" after the 3-1 victory over Fulham.

There is unlikely to be a way back into the starting XI for the midfielder this weekend, with the attacking pairing of Nacer Chadli and Paulinho poised to continue in the centre of the park.

Erik Lamela, Jan Vertonghen, Roberto Soldado, Kyle Walker and Etienne Capoue remain on the treatment table, but Michael Dawson is nearing a return from the strain that has sidelined him for three games.

While Tottenham's hopes of Champions League qualification are all but mathematically over, Stoke require only four points from their remaining three games to reach the objective set by Mark Hughes.

The Welshman, in his first season in charge in the Potteries, wants his side to set a club-record points total for a Premier League campaign and finish in the top half of the table for the first time.

Former Spurs striker Peter Crouch will continue to lead the Stoke attack, but another White Hart Lane alumnus, Matthew Etherington, remains sidelined along with long-term absentee Robert Huth.

Erik Pieters should shake off illness to start at left-back, with Marc Muniesa on standby, while Jonathan Walters and Oussama Assadi are available again to give Hughes a selection dilemma in attacking areas.

Stoke have lost just one of their last eight top-flight matches, but are winless in four against Tottenham, who have not kept a clean sheet in their last nine matches in all competitions.

Recent form



Possible starting lineups

Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; N'Zonzi, Whelan; Walters, Arnautovic, Odemwingie; Crouch

Spurs: Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Fryers, Rose; Lennon, Paulinho, Chadli, Eriksen; Kane, Adebayor

Sports Mole says: 2-2

Hugo Rodallega of Fulham (R) celebrates with Pajtim Kasami as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match against Norwich on April 12, 2014
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