Paul Merson has praised Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino - but still feels the north London side won't beat Stoke at White Hart Lane during their first home game of the Premier League season, according to his Sky Sports predictions.
Indeed, the former Arsenal midfielder believes the Potters and Pochettino's men are 'a lot closer' than people may think and has predicted a 2-2 draw at the Lane.
On Pochettino, however, the pundit believes the Tottenham boss deserves praise and should not be judged yet as he doesn't possess a team that is fully his own.
Merson told Sky Sports: "All of Stoke's signings have played for big, big football clubs. Winning football clubs. Tottenham did okay at [Manchester] United but still lost. These are two decent teams a lot closer than we think in terms of quality. Given that, I'm going for an entertaining draw.
"I'd say don't judge Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino yet. The side is still not fully his, he'll want to bring more in. I like him and think he's a good manager but there's a hell of a lot of pressure on Harry Kane this season."
The evidence for
Last season, Stoke did the double over Spurs, running riot at the start of their clash in north London and completely outplaying them during a 3-0 win over Pochettino's men at the Britannia Stadium.
Based on recent history, then, Merson's prediction can even be considered a little generous for the hosts!
But there is no doubting Tottenham fans will be expecting a little more than a 2-2 draw during their first Premier League match of the season at White Hart Lane. Will Stoke spoil the party and prove Merson right?