STOKE CITY will look to set the seal on what promises to be a memorable day at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday by beating Champions League-hopefuls Tottenham.
The game – the Potters’ last of the season at home – has been designated as the Club’s 150th Anniversary Celebration match.
A host of events, culminating in a parade of more than 80 ex-Stoke stars, will take place ahead of kick-off when Tony Pulis’ men will look to secure their second successive home win and a third victory in four Premier League outings.
Monday’s 1-1 draw at Sunderland lifted Stoke six points clear of the relegation zone and although they are not mathematically safe with two games remaining, third-from-bottom Wigan’s infinitely poorer goal difference means they can all but certainly start planning for a sixth successive season in the top-flight.
Tottenham’s hopes of securing a top four finish were dented on Wednesday with a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.
André Villas-Boas’ men are fifth, a point behind North London rivals Arsenal and three behind Chelsea, and they may have to settle for Europa League football next season instead.
Full name: Tottenham Hotspur
Stadium: White Hart Lane
Executive Chairman: Daniel Levy
Manager: André Villas-Boas
2011/12: Premier League (4th), FA Cup (Semi Final), League Cup (Third Round).
Record transfer fee paid: £17 million for David Bentley to Blackburn, July 2008.
Record transfer fee received: £30.75 million for Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United, September 2008.
TOTTENHAM gave André Villas-Boas a second chance in Premier League management last summer when they appointed him to succeed Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane.
The Portuguese had endured an ill-fated nine-month spell in charge of Chelsea which many expected to signal the end of his hopes of making an impact in the English game … but Spurs had other ideas.
His appointment may have been greeted with a degree of scepticism by supporters in N17 but the 35 year old has wasted little time in winning them over by master-minding a push for a second successive top four finish and a shot at Champions League action.
In the process he has repaired the reputation tarnished by his Chelsea experience and is again widely regarded as one of the most progressive and exciting young coaching talents in Europe.
That was how he was viewed in the summer of 2011 having just led Porto to a treble of league title, with an unbeaten record, Portuguese Cup and Europa League trophy.
That achievement took him on to Chelsea’s radar but he was unable to replicate the success at Stamford Bridge, amid suggestions that senior professionals had become disaffected by his methods.
Stoke still have slight concerns surrounding Glenn Whelan and Andy Wilkinson after they sat out the draw at Sunderland.
Whelan has been nursing a groin injury, while Wilkinson has been troubled by a back problem.
Both men have joined in training but Tony Pulis will run the rule over them again tomorrow before deciding whether to include them in his starting line-up.
Pulis has, however, declared that Marc Wilson is fit to face Spurs, despite being substituted at half-time against Sunderland.
Tottenham hope to have midfielder Mousa Dembele available for the game at the Britannia Stadium after he missed the game at Chelsea through injury.
But William Gallas, Younes Kaboul and Sandro remain unavailable to André Villas-Boas.
Tony Pulis: “We’re hoping we can put in a good performance against Tottenham. It’s a big game for the Club, celebrating the 150thanniversary and there’s lots going on.
“But the big thing from our point of view is concentrating on the game. From the moment the whistle goes the supporters will want the players to be right on it and taking the game to Tottenham.
“The most important thing is that the players concentrate on the game and trying to win it.”
Emmanuel Adebayor: “We have two games left and they will be like two cup finals for us. We play against Stoke then Sunderland at home and we have every chance to do it.
“We have to believe we can do it and then we can do it. We have to keep going, keep fighting and those games are critical now, we have to win those matches.
“It will be tough at Stoke, it's always tough, but if we play like we did at Chelsea, we can win.”
THIS WEEKEND’S FIXTURES:
(All kick-offs 15:00 unless otherwise stated)
Aston Villa v Chelsea (TV – 12.45)
FA Cup final: Manchester City v Wigan (TV – 17.15)
Everton v West Ham
Fulham v Liverpool
Norwich v West Brom
QPR v Newcastle
Sunderland v Southampton
Manchester United v Swansea (TV – 16.00)
League: 39 Stoke City wins; 60 Sunderland wins; 30 draws
FA Cup: 2 Stoke City wins; 2 Sunderland wins; 2 draws
League Cup: 2 Stoke City wins; 0 Sunderland wins; 0 draws
Total: 43 Stoke City wins; 62 Sunderland wins; 35 draws
LAST FIVE MEETINGS:
Tottenham 0-0 Stoke (Premier League) – 22/12/12
Tottenham 1-1 Stoke (Premier League) – 21/03/12
Stoke 2-1 Tottenham (Premier League) – 11/11/11
Stoke 0-0 Tottenham – Stoke won 7-6 on penalties (Carling Cup) – 20/09/11
Tottenham 3-2 Stoke (Premier League) – 09/04/11
FANCY A FLUTTER:
Stoke City win: 7/2
Tottenham win: 10/11
The odds are correct at the time of writing, and are from bet365.com. These may differ depending upon the latest betting trends.
THE MAN IN CHARGE:
Leicester-based Kevin Friend will take charge of Sunday’s game at the Britannia Stadium.
It will be the third time he has taken charge of a Potters’ game this season having refereed the 1-1 draw at Reading in August and the 1-0 win at West Brom in December.
Friend sent-off Dean Whitehead in the game against Reading for two bookable offences – one of just three red cards he has shown in 34 outings this summer. He has made 123 bookings.