Tottenham and Stoke City will be hoping to put narrow defeats last time out behind them as they meet at White Hart Lane on Saturday, with the visitors having won both fixtures between the sides last season.
A purposeful start counted for little as Spurs lost out to Manchester United. Kyle Walker’s own goal undid their early promise and left Christian Eriksen to rue a missed opportunity when he lifted on to the roof of the net after being put through by Harry Kane. But the response to falling behind was poor, creating very little for the remainder of the game and slipping to a defeat which puts them under pressure ahead of this opening home test.
It also highlighted the lack of strength in depth in attack, and manager Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to dip into the transfer market again to increase the number of quality options available. As things stand, Kane is under too much pressure to perform to high level every week, and here he will be closely monitored by the Stoke defence. There are many people Spurs still need to convince, and failure to win here will only intensify those doubts.
Given that there was so little between the sides on the day, Stoke can consider themselves unfortunate to have lost at home to Liverpool. It was a game of few chances for both teams, but a moment of real quality from Philippe Coutinho saw them come unstuck and leave them desperate to get off the mark in terms of points in this one. They certainly have the ability to emerge with all three points, with Mame Biram Diouf certain to occupy the home defence while Ibrahim Afellay showed a few glimpses of his capanilities against the Reds.
They pulled off the highly notable capture of Xherdan Shaqiri on Tuesday, while former Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic is not far away from making his first-team return, so despite the disappointment of starting with a defeat, these are exciting times for the Staffordshire club. Despite injuries to some key players, they are able to name a strong bench, which only serves to emphasise the progress they are making.
The home side are likely to have Hugo Lloris back in goal after he recovered from a fractured wrist. Danny Rose and Andros Townsend are also pushing for a place in the side after missing out at Old Trafford.
Stoke may give Shaqiri his debut, but have several players sidelined including Bojan, Peter Odemwingie and captain Ryan Shawcross. There are late fitness tests for Marko Arnautovic and Marc Wilson, while Erik Pieters has recovered from the illness which saw him forced off at half-time against Liverpool.
Played for both – Wilson Palacios: The combative midfielder won plenty of admirers for his tenacious performances for Wigan Athletic, and Tottenham won the race for his signiture in January 2009. He went on to make 65 Premier League appearances and score one goal before moving to Stoke in the summer of 2011. His time at the Britannia Stadium was miserable, however, with injuries and a lack of fitness limiting him to just 38 league appearances over four years. He failed to score and was released at the end of last season.