Spurs travel to London rivals Crystal Palace this Saturday. Palace have had a turbulent season so far after the relative calm of last year’s 11th place finish. First manager Tony Pulis left just days before the start of the campaign. Then Neil Warnock was sacked after a run of results that have left the South London side 18th in the division.
In his place, Alan Pardew has made a return to the club he scored a famous FA Cup goal for. With a likely honeymoon period for the new manager, could this be a bad time to play Palace?
The big question is which Spurs team is going to turn up? The one that humbled Chelsea, or the version that couldn’t muster a shot of any kind in the first half against Burnley? The one that went toe-to-toe with Manchester United and beat Everton, or the one that struggled against Leicester, possibly the worst team in the division?
Crystal Palace Tactics
With the change of management, it’s hard to tell how Palace will play.
Up until now, they have registered statistics very much like a Pulis team. They sit bottom of the possession table (37.1%), bottom of the pass success table, sixth for aerial duels and have committed the most fouls of any team in the league.
Newcastle, under Pardew, were a fairly middling team. It will be interesting to see how Palace evolve under their new boss. Today, we can probably still expect a typical attempt to crowd us out in the centre, and the midfield battle could be key.
Palace’s standout players have been the robust Mile Jedinak in midfield and tricky winger, Yannick Bolasie. The good news for Spurs is that both are absent on international duty.
Jedinak will be a big loss. His worth to Palace is borne out in his domination of their statistics with the most tackles, interceptions, passes and goals.
Spurs miss Erik Lamela and Ryan Mason through injury, while Nabil Bentaleb is away on international duty.
As mentioned Palace are without Jedinak and Bolasie. Chamakh and McArthur have had problems but may be fit.
Spurs are favourites at 2.24, the draw is 3.5, while a Palace win is at 3.6.
Central midfield is a problem for Mauricio Pochettino in the absence of both Mason and Bentaleb. I would pick Dembele and Stambouli. Both have their weaknesses – Dembele is strong and skilful but not dynamic enough, while Stambouli is almost the opposite – but hopefully they will complement each other.
My back four would be Davies, Vertonghen, Fazio, Walker, although I can understand arguments for Rose to start. I still think Davies is the better long term option.
Chadli, Eriksen and Kane are clear choices – their forward play has been the best thing about Tottenham this season. It’s a toss up between Townsend and Soldado for the final attacking place – I’d probably err towards the young winger.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1 – Tottenham Hotspur 2
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