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Tottenham Hotspur will aim to capitalise on Leicester City dropping points yesterday to close the gap at the top of the table to five when they travel to Stoke City.
According to Sky Sports, top scorer Harry Kane has shaken off a dead leg and will be available as the Lilywhites aim to keep the Premier League title race alive.
Spurs thrashed Manchester United 3-0 last weekend and Mauricio Pochettino may not see any reason to change his starting XI for the trip to the Britannia Stadium.
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That lineup would represent three changes from this side, which surrendered a two-goal lead as the Potters snatched a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane in August.
Midfielder Dele Alli had yet to make his full Premier League debut, while Danny Rose and Erik Lamela were on the bench as Ben Davies and Nacer Chadli started.
Tottenham failed to win any of their first four league games of the season, but these personnel changes have been crucial to their improvement over the campaign.
Alli has perhaps been the biggest difference maker. The 20-year-old has eight goals and nine assists in Tottenham’s title tilt, and has brought a balance to the team.
The man whose place he has, indirectly, taken – Ryan Mason – offers much of the same industry but does not provide anywhere near as great an attacking threat as Alli.
Alli, and his combination with striker Harry Kane, has given Tottenham an extra attacking dimension and allowed Mousa Dembele to drop into the centre of the park.
The Belgian was wasted out on the wing in the early stages of the season and has been much more influential since being restored to his natural midfield position.
His physicality and ability to retain the ball has made Spurs much tougher to score against. They have only conceded two goals in three of their 31 league games since.
Rose and Lamela can also take some credit for this as defending is a team effort with Pochettino, starting with the counter-pressing tactic that the latter has mastered.
Lamela has come on leaps and bounds in his third season at Tottenham, and his outstanding work rate is crucial to the Londoners winning the ball back high up the field.
This is something that Chadli was not offering when he was preferred to Lamela. The Belgian has a decent eye for goal, but is little more than a passenger off the ball.
Lamela pinching possession in the opposition’s half can often prompt Spurs attacks which Kane, Alli and Christian Eriksen, now playing off the left, can make the most of.
And the Argentine international has contributed himself to Tottenham being the second-highest scorers in the league, finding the net four times and supplying six assists.
Rose has fought off the competition of Davies at left-back to give Spurs another attacking outlet, enjoying a fabulous second half of the season to earn England recognition.
Welshman Davies is a more calculated defender, but Rose’s brave tackling and dynamic runs down the flank have been rousing to his teammates and the Tottenham fans.
These improvements mean that Mark Hughes and his Stoke players are facing a very different, and better Spurs side than the one they did on the second matchday of the season.
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