Stoke City’s goalless draw at Tottenham Hotspur marked their eighth consecutive match without defeat. The last time they lost was at Norwich in early November when they were placed 16th with only nine points.
Now, Tony Pulis’ men can sit down for their Christmas dinners safe in the knowledge that, in ninth place with 25 points, only five off fourth-placed Arsenal, the Potters are on course for their most successful season since their arrival into the Premier League in 2008.
It certainly may not have been the most exciting eight weeks since that Norwich defeat. Indeed, that unbeaten run has only seen Stoke find the net twice in a game on one occasion, and even then it came courtesy of a late winner from Cameron Jerome to see off Newcastle.
However, by the same token, the Potters have only conceded three goals in that period, and in the majority of games have been either worthy winners or, like at White Hart Lane, extremely deserving of a point that could, with a little sharper finishing from strike duo Kenwyne Jones and Jonathan Walters, have been all three.
Indeed, the draw at Tottenham typified what Tony Pulis has turned his Stoke outfit into since the low of that limp defeat at Carrow Road. At the back, the central-defensive pairing of Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross were magnificent. It is not for nothing that the Potters have the best defensive record in the Premier League and one of the best in the whole of Europe at the moment. A huge part of that is down to Huth and Shawcross.
While they may not be the most fluid of defenders on the eye or on the ball, in this age of David Luiz/Thomas Vermaelen-type “centre-backs”, it is somewhat of a pleasing throwback to see two defenders doing what namely is in the job description of their position: defend. Fast enough on the ground, strong in the tackle and fully committed, the two managed to shackle what on paper is one of the best attacking forces in the league in the shape of Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, flanked by Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon.
Indeed, throw into the mix Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey and it becomes patently obvious why Spurs were able to gain their first win at Old Trafford in two decades earlier this year with a breathless attacking display.
However, bar a few nervous second-half moments, the Stoke backline were rarely troubled and indeed had Kenwyne Jones managed to make more of a couple of glaring opportunities in the first-half, the Potters could have pulled off a stunning upset. That is perhaps the only concern Pulis will have on his side’s recent good run. While for now, their lack of goal threat is countered by their solidity at the back, the fear must be whether the Potters’ strikeforce will have enough punch about them to see matches out if their defensive counterparts lose just a bit of form.
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