Date: 10th May 2013 at 1:22pm
Written by:

Editor Lloyd Reddin has travelled down south to speak to Vital Tottenham Editor, Martin (Oxford Spurs) for his pre-match views before the 150th celebratory fixture between Stoke and Tottenham Hotspur at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.

1. Do you think you will finish in the top 4?

We definitely have to be considered outsiders, but does that slightly take the pressure off of us and add it to Arsenal in particular? As things stand all games involving Chelsea, arsenal and ourselves are games that both sides have something to play for and it could be argued that all of the three teams competing for the CL places are not playing at their very best. If I was forced to make a prediction, I would say we will just miss out, but until the fat lady is singing the opening verse, I remain positive.

2. Was it defiantly the right decision to replace Harry Redknapp with AVB?
I was a Harry fan, but I also accept that things conspired against both Harry and the club over where we were going and I do believe that Harry felt the England job was his and would have dropped up like a stone, if it were offered. Add to that his tax case, and it was very difficult for the club to plan long term and I feel that Harry took his eye off the prize towards the end of the season and that perhaps made the contingency plans look more attractive for long term development.

As for AVB, I feel the general consensus was that he was stitched up by Chelsea, but equally was still unproven in the EPL, therefore he was a gamble. Add to that he was inheriting a decent Spurs side that seemingly likes Harry and he was also coming in with a vastly different tactical approach and expectation. It could have all gone very wrong.

36 games in and regardless of whether we finish in a CL place or not, I feel we have made the right decision and that AVB will develop the club, both in terms of bringing us success (however you equate that) and also develop our footballing structure as a club, from youth to first team. This summer will be very interesting to see how much backing he gets from the board and what direction they take, but whether we spend big or with what I expect to be more caution, I feel confident that we will do it wisely and with a long term plan.

3. Will you be able to keep hold of Gareth Bale in the summer?

I believe we will. I have said many times, that I believe he is enjoying his football, sees his own game develop and as a father to a new baby, may actually feel that waiting another 12 months is sensible, especially when so many of the elite teams of Europe are undergoing changes in management and that may well cause their own short term instability.

4. Who would you say is your danger man?
We aren’t called a one man team for nothing!

5. What would you say are your strengths as a team?
Despite my last answer, we are a very decent team and squad. Players like Vertonghen and Dembele have been excellent this season, whilst so many others are doing very well and we are so much more than a one man team and as you would have seen against Chelsea on Wednesday, Bale was marked very tightly, but that only created space for others to exploit, something we are learning to use more successfully.

6. What would you say are your weaknesses as a team?
I think that we expect our full backs to be very attack minded and often this causes us to get caught out behind them, inn players like Etherington and perhaps Adam, cutting inside from the right could cause us problems. This is perhaps more evident on our left, if Bale plays centrally or we don’t have Lennon on the right. Sigurdsson, Dempsey and Holtby are all looking to play inside as opposed to keeping their width and that can expose the full back as much as the demands for the FB’s to push forward.

7. Is there any Stoke players you would like to add to your squad?
No! I’m a very big fan of Asmir Begovic and was disappointed to miss out on his a couple of years ago, when the deal was supposedly agreed. Saying that we now have an excellent keeper in Hugo Lloris, so should I still be upset?

8. What is your likely line-up for the match?
There are sure to be question marks over Mousa Dembele and perhaps Aaron Lennon, as they have struggled in recent times and Dembele missed the Chelsea game. if both are fit, I would guess they will play, but I am guessing that Lennon will play and Dembele misses out, in this selection. Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; Huddlestone, Parker (Dembele); Lennon (Dempsey), Bale, Sigurdsson and Adebayor. I have opted for Naughton, as I feel he may work better, should you play Charlie Adam on the right.

9. Finally, what`s your score prediction for the match?

In reality, I don’t care, as long as we get the points, but I will go with a 2-1 win for Spurs.

Thank you to Martin for taking time out to answer the questions.