Tottenham and Stoke played out a dull 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon, stalling Spurs’ pursuit of a place in the top four.
In a game of few chances, the home side struggled to break down the Potters’ organized, regimented defense, which has now kept nine clean sheets this year and conceded just 13 goals.
Andre Villas-Boas made three changes to the team that beat Swansea, with the fit again Gareth Bale restored to the left flank and Michael Dawson and Steven Caulker brought in to add height and strength at the back. Clint Dempsey missed out with an injury.
The away side could have opened the scoring in the opening minute, as Kyle Walker carelessly gifted the ball to Kenwyne Jones on the edge of the box, but he blasted the ball over the bar.
Walker’s loose pass rather typified the opening exchanges, with Spurs stifled in their attempts to play attractive, possession football by Stoke’s relentless closing down.
Defending manfully, Pulis’ side also looked dangerous on the break; Jones’ deflected shot appeared to be rolling into the path of Matthew Etherington, but Sandro managed to clear the ball off the line.
The returning Gareth Bale grew into the match, overawing Geoff Cameron with his pace and delivery; a low, drilled cross was diverted marginally over the bar by Robert Huth before the Welshman picked out Emmanuel Adebayor at the far post, who headed over.
The second half continued in much the same vein, with both sides scrapping and battling for superiority. Bale, switching between flanks, was an invigorating presence once again, and rose to head just over at the back post.
Tottenham struggled to break down the visitors, devoid of a playmaker to unlock the defense. Limited to half-chances and optimistic shots from range, its Portuguese boss cut a forlorn and perplexed figure on the sidelines.
Stoke had the best chance of a dull and insipid second half, when Cameron found Ryan Shotton unmarked in the box, but Lloris caught his tame shot with ease. Shotton was dragged off by Pulis not long after.
Spurs continued to huff and puff to little avail, with Dembele’s deflected shot from 25-yards representing their best effort of normal time.
There was a late moment of controversy though, as Bale appeared to be bundled over by Jerome inside the box, and the decision riled the home support.
Cheered on by the White Hart Lane crowd, Spurs poured forward with greater abandon as the match entered injury time, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, on in place of Lennon, almost grabbed a winner but for a great save from Asmir Begovic.
- Sports & Recreation
- Gareth Bale
- Geoff Cameron