Tottenham’s 5 most important players vs Stoke

ENFIELD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 31: Tottenham Hotspur unveil new signing Moussa Sissoko on August 31, 2016 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

These five Tottenham stars must carry the day against Stoke

Tottenham’s upcoming fixture at Stoke City can’t quite be considered a must-win match, but it’s pretty close. Anything less than a victory against the Potters will be perceived as a disappointment to the Spurs faithful.

A trip to Stoke is never a straightforward encounter, but Mauricio Pochettino is being challenged further by the absence of several Tottenham stars. Danny Rose will miss out due to an injury sustained for England, and Erik Lamela will likely be rested after returning late from Argentina duty.

The absence of those two stars will require several changes to the normal Spurs starting XI. Fortunately for Pochettino, he has several new signings available to him that should help ease the burden of their loss.

Even so, Tottenham need their stars to start playing like stars once again if they’re going to push for a Premier League title this season. There’s no better place for that trend to begin than at Stoke. Here are the five Spurs stars that need to be at the top of their game if Tottenham are going to return to White Hart Lane with all three points.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Ben Davies of Tottenham Hotspur celeberates his team's 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at White Hart Lane on February 6, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 06: Ben Davies of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates his team’s 1-0 win in the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at White Hart Lane on February 6, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

5. Ben Davies

Make no mistake about it, the absence of Danny Rose is a huge blow for Tottenham. Spurs are fortunate though, to have a backup with the skill and experience of Ben Davies.

The Welshman doesn’t need to play a starring role against the Potters, he just needs to turn in a solid performance. Truthfully, if he can avoid any glaring defensive errors he’ll have done his job.

If he happens to influence the match going forward, Spurs should consider it a bonus. It’s entirely possible that will happen though. He’s an excellent crosser of the ball and that could help unlock the Stoke defense.

Ben Davies doesn’t need to be Danny Rose on Saturday. He just needs to play within himself. That will be enough for him to turn in an above average performance and put Tottenham in a position to win the match.

ENFIELD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31: Tottenham Hotspur unveil new signing Moussa Sissoko on August 31, 2016 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

ENFIELD, ENGLAND – AUGUST 31: Tottenham Hotspur unveil new signing Moussa Sissoko on August 31, 2016 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

4. Moussa Sissoko

Tottenham fans shouldn’t expect too much from Sissoko in his first match with the club. He’s likely to assume Lamela’s place in the starting XI, which means he’ll have an opportunity to contribute in the attacking third.

Sissoko needs to stick with what he does best. Pochettino has been clear about his need for a player who is willing to take defenders on. Look for the French international to try to push the Spurs attack forward early and often.

Spurs also need Sissoko to fill Lamela’s valuable role when the club loses possession. Lamela does a terrific job of harassing the opposition to win the ball back. That hasn’t previously been a strength of Sissoko’s, but he’ll need to show effort in that regard against Stoke.

Moussa Sissoko doesn’t need to be the star of the show against Stoke, he just needs to put in a solid shift. If he happens to make a big impact, it’ll be a bonus for Spurs.

ENFIELD,UNITED KINGDOM – SEPTEMBER 6: Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur poses while signing a new contract at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Ground on September 6, 2016 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

3. Christian Eriksen

The Danish attacker is off to a pretty poor start this season. However, he now has the monkey of contract negotiations off his back after signing a new deal with Spurs. Look for him to play with a free mind this weekend.

Tottenham fans will want to see the “good Eriksen” return. When he’s on his game, he can be hugely influential for the club’s attack. He has the ability to eviscerate defenses via the pass or a long-distance effort from goal.

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I’m less concerned with how many goals Eriksen can score in the short-term than I am his work rate. I want to see him running all over the pitch and pulling defenders behind him all match long. When he does that, I’m confident that his finishing ability will return as well.

It’s a big opportunity for Eriksen to spend a lot of time on the ball with Lamela out of the lineup. Don’t be surprised if that, combined with his new Spurs contract, allow him to put in a really terrific performance against the Potters.

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA – SEPTEMBER 04: Harry Kane of England reacts during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group F qualifying match between Slovakia and England at City Arena on September 4, 2016 in Trnava, Slovakia. (Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

2. Harry Kane

I’ve already gone on record with my belief that Pochettino should rest Kane in this fixture. Vincent Janssen is more than capable of leading the line in this match. Furthermore, Kane needs the rest to prepare for Champions League action against Monaco later this week.

Alas, it doesn’t seem that Pochettino is going to agree with me. He’s given zero indication that he plans to do anything other than start Kane up top against Mark Hughes’ club.

If Kane does start, I want to see him run his socks off. Like Eriksen, I’m less concerned right now with his goal tally than I am seeing his energy level return to normal. The more we see Kane running around the pitch and wreaking havoc, the better off Tottenham will be.

Harry Kane is going to score a lot of goals for Tottenham this year, and it might start against Stoke on Saturday. Even if he doesn’t find the back of the net, his work rate could help his club earn a valuable three points on the road.

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 20: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane on August 20, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

1. Dele Alli

Lost in all of the consternation about how Kane and Eriksen are struggling, is the reality that Dele Alli hasn’t been all that good either. He’ll look to build on a bright substitute appearance for England to kickstart his season against the Potters.

I quite like this matchup for Alli too. I think Stoke is a bit soft in the middle of the pitch, which should give the Spurs starlet quite a bit of room to run. When he’s feeling free, he’s a nightmare for his opponent.

He should get plenty of time and space on the ball in this match. I quite like his chances to find the back of the net as well. He’ll need to work hard to dodge Giannelli Imbula, but after that, he should find some smooth sailing.

If Tottenham are going to grab three points, my money is on Dele Alli to be the Man of the Match. It’s a favorable matchup, and it’s time for him to pick up his game. Back on the former MK Dons product to contribute in a big way Saturday.

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