We may have changed manager but a lot of the same problems persist. Is this because Sherwood needs time or is it an issue with the players?
As in so many games against “lesser” opponents at White Hart Lane, we dominated possession but couldn’t turn this into chances. Things improved in the second half but even so, by the end of the game we had 10 shots to Palace’s 14 despite enjoying 68% of the possession. The passing still seems slow and laboured at times but at least now we are playing a consistent team each week, giving them a chance to get used to playing together.
The penalty was a key moment in this game. If Palace had scored they could have sat back and picked us off on the break. This could have been another West Ham.
Our defense is very vulnerable to balls played in behind it. The penalty is just one example, multiple times we were caught out by fast passes through the centre. Luckily our opponents today didn’t punish us but against better teams this would have surely been disastrous.
This has been a problem all season and AVB’s high line was blamed for it, but now he’s gone and it’s still happening. Maybe it’s an organisation problem, maybe a lack of pace in the centre – I’m starting to worry about Dawson.
One mitigating factor is that we haven’t had our best centre back most of the season. Early on Vertonghen was forced to play at left back and recently he has been injured. Let’s hope we get him back soon and perhaps this will help.
Soldado again didn’t look right. The service for him was not great but is this partly because of his movement? He shows some nice touches and good passes so we shouldn’t give up on him yet, but he needs more goals in open play.
In the second half we were much better and we probably just deserved our win. Eriksen is developing a Scholes-like habit of arriving in the box at just the right time.
Defoe made a nice cameo appearance as a second half substitute, scoring our second. He still has great instincts in the box and I will be sad to see him leave. It’s the right decision though; his all round play does not merit a starting place anymore.