Premier League - Tottenham left frustrated in Stoke stalemate

Premier League, White Hart Lane - Tottenham 0 Stoke 0

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Premier League - Tottenham left frustrated in Stoke stalemate
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Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Jermain Defoe (L) vies with Stoke City's German defender Robert Huth (R) during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City at White Hart Lane on Dec 22, 2012 (AFP)

Stoke produced a spirited display to secure a well-earned point against Tottenham at White Hart Lane as the north London side missed out on the opportunity to climb up to third in the Premier League table.

The away side, who boast the best defence in the league having conceded just 13 goals so far in the campaign, were well organised throughout, with Spurs unable to break them down.

Stoke could, and perhaps should, have come away with more than a point with Kenwyne Jones missing two great opportunities, while Ryan Shotton also had a chance to break the deadlock.

Tottenham imposed themselves on the game more and more as it went on, yet they missed that cutting edge in the final third, and were unable to find a way past a brilliant Stoke defence that limited them to shots from distance.

Gylfi Sigurdsson came close in the dying moments to grabbing a winner with a header, only for Asmir Begovic to produce a fine save meaning it was actually Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal who capitalised on Chelsea not playing until tomorrow to move up to third.

It was Stoke, though, that should have been one up inside the first minute after Kyle Walker gifted the ball to Jones, only for the striker to blaze over from close range.

A nervy start to the game for the home side continued as not long after, Jones found himself in another goal-scoring position. Steven Nzonzi opened up the opposition defence with a fine pass, but Hugo Lloris pulled off a great save to deny Jones before Walker did well to clear.

Spurs began to impose themselves on the game thereafter, but despite getting plenty of crosses into the box, they struggled to get anybody on the end of them.

That was until Gareth Bale burst forward down the left and picked out Emmanuel Adebayor in the box, only for the striker to head over the bar when he should have hit the target.

Tottenham were now seeing the lion’s share of possession, but try as they might they were unable to unlock the Stoke defence, with the Potters restricting them to shots from outside the box. Defoe went close twice, while Mousa Dembele also sent one wide from the edge of the area.

Spurs came out after the break showing far more attacking intent with Defoe again shooting just wide of the post from the edge of the box.

It was all the home side for long periods, but still they were unable to find a way of getting past the fantastic duo of Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth in the heart of Stoke’s defence.

The one time that they did – when Aaron Lennon sent a dangerous hanging ball to the far post – the unmarked Bale could only head over from close range.

Stoke were playing on the counter attack on the most part, and it nearly paid off when Geoff Cameron picked out the unmarked Shotton in the box, but the full back could only shoot tamely at Lloris.

Spurs continued to drive forward in the closing stages, but had little luck on improving on their past efforts with Sigurdsson and Dembele shooting from distance and failing to trouble Begovic.

With the clock ticking down, Tottenham had their best chance of the game as Sandro picked out Sigurdsson in the middle, but Begovic produced the save of the day to tip the midfielder’s header away and earn his side - who are now unbeaten in their last eight league games - their ninth clean sheet of the campaign and a deserved point.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Ryan Shawcross – It was a toss-up between Shawcross and his defensive partner Robert Huth, who were both immense in keeping Tottenham at bay all day long. The captain edged it for his influential leadership.

PLAYER RATINGS

TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7, Walker 6, Caulker 6, Dawson 6, Vertonghen 7, Sandro 7, Dembele 7, Lennon 7, Bale 7, Defoe 5, Adebayor 5. SUBS: Sigurdsson 6, Parker 5.

STOKE: Begovic 8, Wilkinson 7, Shawcross 9, Huth 9, Cameron 7, Shotton 6, Whelan 6, Nzonzi 7, Ehterington 6, Walters 7, Jones 6. SUBS: Whitehead 6, Jerome 6, Crouch 5.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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