Match date & time: Saturday 10th January 2015. 5:30pm GMT Kick Off.
Competition: Premier League.
Venue: Selhurst Park.
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1. World wide TV listings HERE.
Exiting the festive period, we have left ourselves in a great position to pursue a great season. After going 7 games unbeaten in all competitions, we have found ourselves just two points off the top four, and still in every competition we can be involved in, including the semi finals of the Capital One Cup, with a real chance to go to Wembley and challenge for coveted silverware. In these recent seven games unbeaten, it looks as though the players have really found their form, and Mauricio Pochettino has found something of his best 11, or at most best first team, match day squad of eighteen. We have been injury free, and competition for places means that our squad looks hungry and ready to fight entering into the final half of the season. Our next six games are favourable, but massive. We have the chance to go to Wembley against Sheffield United, but also we have to continue this unbeaten run, and keep momentum ticking over into the second half of the season. This all starts with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, who are a difficult proposition at home, and with a new manager, and his first home game, he will be looking to make a good impression; and the players could rise to the occasion. But, if we play the way we know we can, and emulate a performance of the calibre of our 5-3 win over Chelsea, the we should have no problem in seeing off Crystal Palace. There is no doubt Palace will try to make it as difficult as possible for us on their home turf, with the crowd behind them – we have a really difficult task ahead of us, but we need to be professional, and get the job done and move on. It’s crucial we don’t let the momentum that we have dither.
Palace have struggled this season, which was expected after Tony Pulis left them just before the start of the season. Neil Warnock replaced him, but he only lasted half of the season before Alan Pardew stepped up and took the job, to the surprise of many leaving Newcastle – a much safer side with better players. Crystal Palace sit 18th in the Premier League, inside the relegation spots, and Pardew has a big job to keep them up, which means he will be looking to start strong, and transform Selhurst Park into the fortress it became last season under Tony Pulis; and that, Pardew will be hoping, will start with us. Palace have only won once in their last 14 Premier League games, and are without a win since their victory over Liverpool at Selhurst Park eight games ago, back in November. This barren spell led to manager Neil Warnock losing his job, and being replaced by Alan Pardew. In our last game against Crystal Palace, we drew 0-0 at the Lane, in an exciting, but frustrating game in which Palace did really well to counteract our offensive prowess. It wasn’t our finest game but Palace really turned up and probably deserved more from the game. In our last game at Selhurst Park, we won 1-0 on the first day of last season; with Roberto Soldado getting the only goal from the spot. I think this time around, we will want to break down the Palace defence a little more, and finish off the game as early as possible. If we have a slow start, Palace could easily grow into the game and dig in, which would make our task harder than it has to be. Last time we faced an Alan Pardew side, it was against Newcastle at the Lane in the Capital One Cup quarter final, in which we won comfortably 4-0; hopefully Pochettino’s men can recreate a similar scoreline against Pardew’s new side.
The team news for CrystaL Palace is that their midfield menace Yannick Bolasie, and midfield hard man Mile Jedinak will both be absent for Alan Pardew’s first Premier League game in charge as they are both on international duty; and they will be a huge miss for Palace, as they are both arguably their most important players, and Yannick Bolasie caused us all sorts of problems in our last encounter at the Lane, and I am sure our defence will be glad not having to face him once again. Mile Jedinak is the leader of the side, the hard man, but also the orchestrator of it all from his deep position in the centre of midfield; he is a touch of class in an otherwise below average Palace side, and I am sure they will miss him dearly; hopefully we can make his absence count. Other than those absentees, James McArthur (knock), Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) and Glenn Murray (ankle) are all slight doubts for the Eagles, but are expected to at least make the squad. With the absence of Bolasie and Jedinak, Palace will have to rely offensively on the talents of Wilfried Zaha, who is on loan from Manchester United and has undoubted talent on the ball. His end product is questionable, but on his day he can be a big threat to any defence, and Pardew will be hoping he can be the man to help his side create chances, and use his pace to stretch our defence. Up front, Palace have a wealth of options, from Chamakh to Doyle, to Campbell to Murray and the to Dwight Gayle, and all of these strikers aren’t exactly prolific, but they still pose a threat given the correct service, but if we can nullify the supply, we can isolate the striker and then we should get most of the fun in the match. There’s no doubting that this Crystal Palace side will put in a massive shift to prevent us from scoring, and will look to hit us on the counter with the pace of Zaha and Gayle; we will have to make sure to score early and then hopefully we can take command of the game.
The team news for Tottenham is that Nail Bentaleb has joined up with his Algerian team mates for the African Cup of Nations and so will be absent from this game. DeAndre Yedlin isn’t ready after only joining up with the side on Wednesday, with Ryan Mason (hamstring) & Erik Lamela (calf) out of the game through injury. With Mason and Bentaleb out, it’s a chance for Mousa Dembele and Benjamin Stambouli to stake a claim for first team football, and hopefully they can grab their chance and put in a good display.
There is no hesitating when asked who the key man for Tottenham is at the moment; Harry Kane has been nothing short of sensational so far this season and we rely upon him for goals, but it’s not only his goals, but it’s his overall contribution of assists, hold up play and his incredible work rate, which makes him so valuable to us, and he is developing into a wonderful player with a massive future. Another player in a rich vain of form is Nacer Chadli, who has 9 goals and 4 assists so far this season and has been a revelation with his contribution, and has established himself as an incredibly important player to us, to have a midfielder who can get 10 goals plus a season alongside Christian Eriksen. In defence, Federico Fazio and Jan Vertonghen have been in stellar form as a unit, and our back five as a whole is beginning to take shape with Kyle Walker back from injury and Ben Davies and Danny Rose competing valiantly for a place at left back, and our results prove that continuity and understanding within the side and at the back is leading to consistency in our results, and hopefully no injuries will disrupt the flow of thew side and the squad, and we can continue to produce good results and climb the table. On the wing, with Erik Lamela out, and Aaron Lennon seemingly on his way out, an opportunity has arisen for Andros Townsend to stake a claim on the right wing after being a bit part player for quite a while he has the chance to put a run of games together and hopefully rediscover some form that he had early on last season.
Match stats & facts provided by Opta:
– Crystal Palace have gone eight Premier League games without a win (W0 D5 L3).
– Tottenham Hotspur have recovered more points from losing positions than any other team in the Barclays Premier League (12).
– The Eagles have failed to score in five of their last seven Premier League matches.
– Harry Kane has scored five goals in his last five Premier League matches.
– Palace have failed to score in their last three Premier League games against Spurs.
– Spurs have won six and lost just one of their last nine Premier League matches.
– Harry Kane has the best minutes/goal ratio of any player to score at least five PL goals for Tottenham (149, Klinsmann 169).
– Crystal Palace have committed more fouls than any other team in the Premier League this season (270).
– Spurs have conceded more penalties than any other club in the top flight (5).
– Kevin Doyle has scored four goals against Tottenham, his joint-highest tally against any Barclays Premier League opponent (along with Fulham).
It’s a massive game to continue our recent form, and it would be lovely to go eight games unbeaten. Crystal Palace are a tough proposition, but we have what it takes to break them down and come out as victors. The game is being shown live on Sky Sports 1, but I will be providing match updates including goal updates, photos and videos. Follow me on twitter for it all, @AddictedToSpurs. Let’s get another three points! COYS!!
My predicted/preferred team to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park:
Walker – Fazio – Vertonghen – Rose
Stambouli – Dembele
Townsend – Eriksen – Chadli
Mauricio Pochettino speaks to the press ahead of Palace: