Tottenham Hotspur 0 - 0 Stoke City

Match info: Premier League at White Hart Lane

Date: 22/12/2012 KO: 15:00 Ref: L Mason Att: 35,702

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers




FT (ht: 0-0)

  • Last Updated: December 22 2012, 19:05 GMT

Andre Villas-Boas was disappointed to see Tottenham drop below Arsenal after his team were held to a goalless draw by stubborn Stoke at White Hart Lane.

AVB frustrated after stalemate

Tottenham would have moved ahead of Chelsea into third had they won, but they ended the afternoon in fifth after their north London neighbours and Everton both recorded victories against Wigan and West Ham respectively.

Villas-Boas' men threw everything at the Potters, but they could not find their way through a defence the Tottenham boss had described as one of the best in Europe during the week.

The Staffordshire side showed exactly why they have the best defensive record in the league as Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross and Asmir Begovic all put in towering performances to keep the likes of Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor at bay.

Villas-Boas, whose side face Aston Villa on Boxing Day, was not happy at seeing his team slip below Arsenal on goal difference.

"No-one enjoys being level on points with Arsenal at this club," Villas-Boas said. "I have experienced this rivalry for the first time this year and I have spoken very highly about it before.

"It is an extremely healthy competition between both teams, but we have to continue now. Today was a difficult game. Stoke are an extremely competitive and physical team who are difficult to break down.

"I want to be extremely positive as the players really tried hard."

Adebayor and Defoe both had half-chances either side of the break, but Begovic was not really tested until injury time when he saved Gylfi Sigurdsson's header from close range.

Stoke have built their eight-match unbeaten run around their solid defence, who have kept nine clean sheets this term.

Spurs had to resort to long shots for most of the match and Tony Pulis was very happy with his team's shut out against one of the quickest attacks in the league.

"We are delighted. That's nine clean sheets now," Pulis said.

"We look solid defensively. They had a few shots from outside box and that one great save from Asmir so we are very pleased with how we played.

"We talk about the two centre-halves and the goalkeeper, but I think all the players work so hard on organisation and discipline.

"It's a great point at a great football club."

Referee Lee Mason had a busy afternoon, dishing out seven yellow cards - five of which came for the away side.

The game threatened to boil over at times, particularly in the second half when Adebayor appeared to square up to Shawcross as they grappled in the box.

The issue of grappling in the box is a hot topic in football, and Villas-Boas thinks referees need to be more consistent.

He said: "You have to take out the law (that punishes grappling) as if you pretend to be blind you have to take out the situation and move on.

"We had some given for us when Stoke were attacking but none in their box that could have given us a penalty.

"Those decisions are very hard to take, and maybe those ones are the stepping stone for people to start learning."

The officials were at the centre of another controversy in the second half when Bale, who has been booked four times this year for diving, went down easily looking for a foul just outside the box.

Pulis launched an angry tirade at Bale from the sidelines when he went down, but the Stoke boss refused to be drawn on the matter afterwards.

"I will leave that. It's Christmas," Pulis said.

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