Four days after the heroic performance at Stamford Bridge, Emmanuel Adebayor starred again for Tottenham, scoring a late go-ahead goal to erase the early deficit to keep pace with Arsenal in the hunt for Champions League football next season.
Wigan's loss last week means Stoke City is technically safe from relegation on superior goal difference, but Tony Pulis, who has been under huge pressure for the second half of the season, still showed great desire for triumph in their last home game this season.
The vulnerability of Tottenham in defending set-pieces is what Stoke is capable to expose. Steven Nzonzi did it three minutes into the match, turning Charlie Adam freekick from the right into the net. Surprisingly employing a zonal defence, Gareth Bale and Scott Parker, who were responsible for defending the near post, showed no intention at all in going for neither the ball nor Nzonzi.
However, Stoke's performance showed why they are criticised by their fans throughout 2013. They were never able to build on the early lead and keep challenging Hugo Lloris, who did not look utterly convincing in fending off Stoke's aerial advantage. Surrendering possession to AVB's side, their transition to attack and support to Peter Crouch was just sluggish. There were a couple of threats from corners, but only one goal attempt in the first half said it all.
AVB decided to field Clint Dempsey ahead of the tenacious Lewis Holtby in a game they could not afford to lose, but similar to that at Stamford Bridge, with Adebayor's preference to drop deeper, Spurs often crowded the midfield, thus seeing more of the ball but could not break through the defence effectively.
Spurs, though, found the equaliser at the expense of Stoke's misery. Scott Parker's diagonal pass to Aaron Lennon was dismissed, but miscommunication between Begovic and the defender left an empty goal to Dempsey. The American's first-time lob from 35 yards gave a huge boost to Tottenham half way through the first half.
|Not quite sure what was in his mind|
It will always be a physical contest at the Britannia Stadium. Body-checking and sliding tackles have been Stoke's weapons to keep their opponents in-check. Tony Pulis would not mind a couple of yellow cards, but surely not a red card. Unfortunately, Charlie Adam completely forgot his booking in the first half and a needless and silly tackle from behind to stop Vertonghen near the half-way line left Stoke with 10 men on the field for most of the second half. The goal-provider became the centre of jeering, mostly from the Yids, who still remember how the Scot treated Gareth Bale in a pre-season clash playing for Liverpool.
Fatigue started to show in Stoke City's half, but Spurs still could not find the touch in the final third. Dembele and Defoe were introduced as AVB tried the ultimate push for victory. Dembele, returning from injury, fed Gareth Bale into the box and the Welshman’s attempted a shot with his right foot, which had beaten Begovic but was just on the wrong side of the post.
Playing exceptionally in the last ten minutes of recent matches, Spurs revived once again through a late goal, this time by Emmanuel Adebayor. The striker continued his own late-season revival by tapping in Dempsey's squaring pass. Dempsey, with a bit of fortune, picked up Bale's deflected pass in the box in an on-side position and calmly found Adebayor for the winning goal.
Spurs then hanged on to climb above Arsenal momentarily to fourth place. The Gunners are yet to play Wigan and Newcastle, while Spurs will face Sunderland at White Hart Lane on the final day. Interestingly, the evolvement of the relegation battle could potentially play a significant part in the battle for fourth. For certain, it will come down to the final second of the season.