Ten people were arrested after scuffles broke out as police attempted to separate protesters from a large number of people who opposed the group.
The EDL has recently been involved in a number of confrontations in Birmingham.
In a statement to the BBC, Mr Denham said: "I believe the English Defence League is not a large group, but they clearly have amongst them people who know exactly what they are doing.
"If you look at the types of demonstrations they have organised, the language used and the targets chosen, it looks pretty clear that it's a tactic designed to provoke, to get a response and create violence.
"It's important that we, right across government, make sure this does not happen.
"We need to make sure people realise we are going to deal with this and that people recognise there is not a need to tackle this through counter confrontation."