Battle at the bottom
This will be Spurs' first ever trip to the Britannia Stadium and my first for almost a decade. I remember reporting on a game in the Championship for Radio 5 Live not long after I joined the BBC. It was an exceptionally cold Sunday and there was precious little atmosphere or excitement.
It promises to be a bit different this weekend, with a full house and both sides anxious to stay in touch with the pack above them.
I keep all my commentary notes on computer, updating them each time I cover a particular club. On Tuesday I opened my 'Stoke.doc' file hoping to find at least some information which would still be relevant. No such luck; every single player from the last time I watched Stoke play has moved on, the manager has changed several times and even the stadium capacity has been increased, so I more or less had to do my research on their squad from scratch.
There was one topical name in those old notes though. Chris Iwelumo had just signed for Stoke after a spell in Danish football last time I saw them play. If he featured in the game all those years ago then I don't remember him. Unfortunately he's now infamous for that miss at Hampden. "Iwelumo, you tube!" is probably not quite what the Tartan Army were shouting at the time, but you can bet that the You Tube website will ensure the moment won't be forgotten for a good while yet.
I'm not sure where the blame lies but there have been some very strange decisions taken. Why has David Bentley hardly played in his best position, the right of midfield? I'm sure that when he put pen to paper Bentley did not expect that Aaron Lennon would be preferred in that position. After all, if Spurs thought that Lennon had what it takes, why splash out more than £15m on a player who wants to be in the same part of the pitch? Bentley is now finding it so hard to build up momentum that he has been struggling to get in the team at all.
Not replacing Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane was risky at best, given Dimitar Berbatov's "dream" to go to Old Trafford. Roman Pavlyuchenko is still finding his feet, but the idea of a partnership between the Russian and Darren Bent already seems to have been abandoned.
At the back they miss Ledley King terribly but he hasn't played two games in a week since January, and clearly still needs to be used sparingly after a long run of injuries.
All this and more will have been debated long and hard in Tottenham's patch of north London, not least at their training ground. Having seen their solid display at Chelsea in August, I am still convinced they'll improve. What must be galling for Spurs fans, though, is that it's already too late for them to challenge for the Champions League, something that seemed within touching distance only a couple of years ago.