Tottenham 0 Stoke 0: Frustration for Spurs as Potters claim deserved point
17:22 GMT, 22 December 2012
Stoke lived up to their billing as one of the best defensive units around as they put in a stubborn display to deny Tottenham victory at White Hart Lane.
Spurs could have gone third in the Barclays Premier League with a win, but the visitors proved too hard to break down thanks to a predictably tough display from Tony Pulis' side.
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas and his assistant Steffen Freund regularly complained at the physicality of the Potters, who had four players booked during the match.
But the draw was more to do with the imperious performances of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth than any perceived bully-boy tactics.
On the run: Gareth Bale is chased by Ryan Shotton
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Caulker, Vertonghen, Lennon (Sigurdsson 78), Sandro, Dembele (Parker 85), Bale, Defoe, Adebayor.
Sub not used: Friedel, Gallas, Naughton, Livermore, Townsend.
Bookings: Vertonghen, Sandro.
Stoke: Begovic, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Huth, Cameron, Shotton (Whitehead 64), Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington (Crouch 69), Jones (Jerome 66), Walters.
Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Upson, Kightly.
Bookings: Cameron, Wilkinson, Nzonzi, Whitehead, Walters.
Attendance: 35, 702.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Latest Premier League results, fixtures and table
Villas-Boas had described the Potters
defence as one of the best in Europe on Thursday and his assessment
proved correct as the strong duo kept Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain
Defoe quiet for almost the entire match.
Gareth Bale, returning to the Tottenham side after his hamstring injury,
went close with a second-half header, as did Gylfi Sigurdsson in
added-time, but for the most part Spurs were restricted to long shots.
Stoke, who have kept nine clean sheets this season, have now gone eight
matches unbeaten for the first time since the Premier League began.
Tottenham, meanwhile, head to Aston Villa on Boxing Day in fifth
position after rivals Arsenal and Everton both won their respective
matches, and Villas-Boas will no doubt see this as a missed opportunity
to start the festive period with a bang.
Sliding in: Jermain Defoe challenges Stoke's Robert Huth
On the ball: Jan Vertonghen is closed down by Stoke pair Glenn Whelan and Ryan Shotton
Stoke made a bright start, stifling the home side in the first five minutes amid a quiet atmosphere inside White Hart Lane. Just 45 seconds had gone before Kyle Walker fed a hospital pass straight
in to the path of Kenwyne Jones, but he lost his balance and could only
Spurs sought to match Stoke's physicality in midfield with a couple of
hefty tackles early on, but Sandro went too far five minutes in when he
earned a booking for a dangerous studs up challenge on Glenn Whelan.
Stoke had all the early play, but Hugo Lloris remained untested in the Spurs goal. Bale fired in a low cross, but the imperious Huth hooked the ball clear before Defoe could get to the ball.
The eyes have it: Tottenham's Emmanuel Adebayor controls the ball under pressure from Glenn Whelan
Stoke soon hit back through Steven N'Zonzi, who fed Jones on the
counter-attack. The striker beat Lloris, but Sandro scrambled back to
clear off the line. Back up the other end Jan Vertonghen used some silky skills to beat
three Stoke players and cross for Defoe, but the ball just evaded the
Vertonghen was booked for a late tackle on Whelan and was back in the
thick of the action moments later with a deflected shot that flew in to
Asmir Begovic's hands.
Battle: Tottenham's Aaron Lennon clashes with Andy Wilkinson
Bale put in one of his trademark lung-busting runs and beat his marker, but Shawcross cleared before Defoe could tap in.
The Welshman charged at the Stoke defence 60 seconds later and this time
found his target at the back post, but Adebayor could only head over.
Spurs started to take control of the match and went close to breaking
the deadlock just before the break through Mousa Dembele, who fired half
a yard over the bar.
Stay on your feet, Aaron: Lennon and Andy Wilkinson tussle for the ball
The physical nature of the game showed no sign of relenting after the re-start. Just over 30 seconds of the second half had elapsed before Andy Wilkinson saw yellow a foul on Aaron Lennon.
Pulis fumed at Bale just before the hour when he went to ground in an attempt to win a free-kick just outside the box.
Not their day: Jermain Defoe's reaction here says it all
Spurs had their best chance of the game so far when Bale leapt to meet Lennon's cross, but he could only head over.
Stoke hit back on the break the following minute through Geoff Cameron,
who sprinted down the left to found Ryan Shotton, but his attempt on
goal was weak.
Shotton paid the price for the miss as he was withdrawn for Dean
Whitehead, who saw yellow for tangling with Vertonghen barely a minute
after he entered the pitch.
Every reason to smile: Stoke manager Tony Pulis saw his side claim a fine point
Do it this way: Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas directs his team
Bale and substitute Sigurdsson drove at the Stoke defence, but they had
to shoot from distance as the away side looked to close out the game.
Cameron and N'Zonzi entered the book in the final 15 minutes as the game threatened to boil over.
Spurs threw everything at the visitors, but they could not find a way through.
On the sidelines: Stoke's Michael Owen watches from the bench
Bale went down in the box, but Lee Mason waved play on, as the match entered its final stages.
With just seconds of the four minutes of added time played, Sigurdsson had a chance to win it, but
Begovic pulled off a world-class save and the hosts had to settle for a