OPPONENTS Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park
COMPETITION Premier League 
DATE Saturday 10th November 2018
PREVIEW Having maintained our good results without actually catching fire yet, Spurs stayed in fourth place after beating Wolves and then showed their tenacity with a late winner over PSV in midweek.  Although Spurs lost Mousa Dembele for two months last Saturday with an ankle injury, there was better news with the return of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen on Tuesday, with both Victor Wanyama and Eric Dier both back in training and close to full fitness.

Visiting Crystal Palace, who have struggled so far this season, might not be as easy a task as it might seem.  While they have won twice against the bottom teams in the division, they took a home point off Arsenal.  Mainly they have been losing regularly this season to sides, but not getting thrashed.  1-3 to Chelsea last week at Stamford Bridge was the most goals they have conceded in the league.

Julian Speroni has lost his goalkeeping position to Wayne Hennessey, who has had plenty to do and done it reasonably well.  The Welsh international has a good shot-stopping ability, although his judgement on coming for the ball is dubious sometimes, with his angles not always covered.  In front of him, there has been a reshuffle of personnel, with Patrick van Aanholt, Mamadou Sakho, James Tomkins and Aaron Wan-Bissaka being the most often fielded back four.  Fringe defenders include Martin Kelly and Scott Dann who are both injured; Papa Souare, Jeffrey Schlupp and  Joel Ward, who might be called upon from the bench.

Former Spur Andros Townsend is often selected in a wide position for Palace and after having moved around since leaving Spurs, it is a shame that he has not realised his full potential.   He may suffer badly in comparison to Palace's star man Wilfried Zaha, but the limelight that shines on him is not always for the best reasons.   His inability to stand on his own two feet seems to be prevalent when he approaches the penalty area and his whingeing about not getting protection form the referee shows a weakness that opposition players are targeting.  The strength in midfield comes from Luka Milivojevic  and Cheikhou Kouyate.  The former could tread a fine line between what is within the rules and what isn't, while the latter (an ex-Iron) is leggy and gets around the pitch well, but his distribution is sometimes questionable.   German prodigy Max Meyer was linked with a move to Tottenham a couple of years back, but he has ended up at Selhurst trying to resurrect his career.  Good on the ball and decent in making options off it, he cannot be ignored.   James McArthur has been a regular at Palace for four years now and he works hard and tried to support the front men, by getting forward into the attacking third.  Thos who might be on the bench include Sully Kaikai, Jason  Puncheon, Dutchman Jairo Riedewald and Welsh international Jonny Williams.  ANother ex-Tottenham man is on their books, but he is only getting a rare look in and that is Nya Kirby who controversially left White Hart lane for Chelsea, but turned up at Palace without playing for the Pensioners.

Christian Benteke hasn't hit the form that Palace bought him on the strength of, but his presence can be unsettling and the physical side of Connor Wickham's game previously.  Unfortunately for Palace, they are both sidelined with injuries.  The Eagles have taken Jordan Ayew on loan from Swansea City and he is a decent striker when given the opportunities near goal, while Norwegian Alexander Sorloth has yet to show his integration into the English game for Palace, although he is another big, strong forward.

On form and on paper, this game should pose no problems for Tottenham and if they get a start like they did last week, they might be able to hang onto it a bit better, but Palace will be up for it and be looking to repeat their efforts against the Goons.  However, we appear to be even better than we are at home so far and while I hope that doesn't become the norm once we return to the Lane, I expect three points to be hading our way come 19.30 on Saturday.

PREDICTION Crystal Palace    1        Tottenham Hotspur    3
Premier League Kick off 17:30
Crystal Palace  0 (0)  
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0)



Foyth  54m 15s

Crowd :   25,685 Weather :  Heavy rain thorughout
Referee : Jon Moss (Leeds) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Eddie Smart; Mr. Andy Halliday
Fourth Official :  Roger East  
Crystal Palace kicked off and played towards the Whitehorse Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 8 minutes.
Tomkins (foul on Moura)  43


Winks (foul on Ayew)  86


Crystal Palace : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

  5  James TOMKINS       (34  Martin KELLY  60)
  Mamadou SAKHO
  3  Patrick van AANHOLT

18  James McARTHUR  (  9  Alexander SORLOTH70)
  Cheikou KOUYATE
  7  Max MEYER  (15  Jeffrey SCHLUPP  67)

10  Andros TOWNSEND

14  Jordan AYEW

Unused subs: 
  Vincente GUITA
  2  Joel WARD
42  Jason PUNCHEON

    1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER  (24  Serge AURIER  24)
  Juan FOYTH 
33  Ben DAVIES

12  Victor WANYAMA
17  Moussa SISSOKO

27  Lucas MOURA  (  7  Heung-Min SON  71)
20  DELE Alli
11  Erik LAMELA  (  8  Harry WINKS  83     )

10  Harry KANE

Unused subs: 
18  Fernando LLORENTE
Christian ERIKSEN
15  Eric DIER

Manager :  Roy Hodgson Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino
Sponsor :   Mansion Shirt sponsor :  AIA
Kit Supplier :  Macron Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

Struggling Crystal Palace put up a good fight at a rain-sodden Selhurst Park, much as they did against Arsenal, but they found that this Tottenham side are more resilient than Spurs sides of old, giving little credence to claims that they are still prone to lose games they shouldn't.  The 1-0 win over the South London side came at a cost with Trippier limping out of the action and Lamela coming off with a cut head, but there was some redemption for Juan Foyth, who was harshly criticised for last week's performance at Wolves and was this week's match-winner.

With so many games played recently, Mauricio Pochettino shuffled his team using the squad and working around the injuries, with six changes from Tuesday night.  The rain lashed down at Selhurst Park and the conditions suited Palace’s longer ball game, as without Zaha, they were looking for Townsend to use his pace. When a cross from the left went to the far post and came back in, it was Lucas Moura of all people who flicked a header away with Kouyate, who was looking for a scissors kick behind him.  Juan Foyth was installed in the back four, replacing Davinson Sanchez, who was missing with a hamstring pull and the Argentine was being played on by the Palace players after last week’s debut at Wolverhampton.  He played a loose back pass as Spurs tried to play out from a goal kick and forced Lloris to concede a corner, but he showed confidence when he stepped out with the ball a couple of times, feeling that he wanted to play his normal game.

Townsend hit a shot from a tight angle into the side netting (surprised ?) and it was only after 19 minutes that Spurs got a decent effort on goal, when Moussa Sissoko beat four Palace defenders, before cutting inside to shoot at goal from the left.  Sakho threw himself in front of the effort and the ball rebounded out of the box.

Things got worse in the Tottenham defence after just 24 minutes, with Trippier looking like he had done a hamstring, but Aurier was a straight replacement and his opposite number Ben Davies almost produced a telling cross, with Dele just unable to climb high enough to reach it.  It dropped to Aurier and he drilled a shot off the greasy turf, but the ball pinged about before being cleared.  Davies was fouled out on the left touchline in the 26th minute that forced a clearance for a throw in on the other side of the pitch. Although that led to nothing, Lucas played Davies in on the left and his cross picked out Alli, who was free and put a header wide when he should have made Hennessey make a save.  Coming back into the side after a spell out injured, Dele looked a little off the pace, but more like his old self, as he was getting into positions from blind side runs and he played some lovely through passes that, unfortunately, didn't lead to more goals.

The Spurs section of the crowd were making all the noise, as the home crowd had quietened after their side made their initial attacks. Hennessey was made to save when Kane struck a fierce drive from 25 yards on the half hour, but the keeper got two hands to it, as it was at a good height for his dive and so denied Tottenham. Aurier then put in a decent cross to the far post, but Davies and Alli got in each other’s way and then another Serge ball in almost created a goal, but Moura could only stretch to head it over, with Dele perhaps having a better run at it behind him.

Just before the break, Tomkins went through Moura from behind and got booked, while Ayew prevented Dele taking the free-kick quickly and resulted in a bit of a face-off, but it all fizzled out, just like a firework at one of tonight's displays, as did the first half, which didn't have too many highlights. 

Anyway, half-time came and went, with the talk about Tottenham playing the ball out from the back, trying to draw Palace players out of position, but playing a risky game on this slippy surface.  Palace were closing down Spurs quickly, but it was Tottenham who almost got a result from that tactic in the first period, when Moura nearly got to Hennessey just made his clearance to a short back pass from Sakho.

After the interval, Spurs kicked off and five minutes in, Lloris flapped unconvincingly at a corner and had to get back to bat away the ball as it was headed back towards goal by Tomkins.  Hugo hasn't looked himself this season.  Whether it is a hang-over from the high of the World Cup win or a result of his drink-drive charge, but his decision making has been shaky so far. 

Some loose passing prevented Tottenham making more of the breakaway opportunities they had, but Palace were stoically winning corners to try and get one of their giants on the end of them. Tomkins got away from Dele at the far post from one and the former Iron put his header wide of the goal when he should have nodded it back across goal. Foyth cleared up a messy Lloris kick out that went about ten yards and not very high to save the keeper any embarrassment.  When Spurs got upfield, Dele shot from outside the box and it hit Moura on the way through, forcing Hennessey to push it wide, even though it was well wide of the goal.  Kane headed a shot towards goal when Davies shot as the ball dropped to him from a corner and he had bounced it into the ground.

It was Kane’s vision that picked out a great ball across the pitch to Dele on the left, but the ball got stuck under his feet and then again, after he took a return pass from Wanyama.  In the next phase of play, Spurs won a corner when Davies found space on the left and was blocked by Ben-Wissaka. When it came in from Lamela, it was an out-swinger and Kane met it with full force off his forehead. It popped up off Milivojevic’s thigh and as it hung in the air, Jordan Ayew stood and watched, while Juan Foyth was more alert and moved forward to win the header; planting it into the net.  It was a dramatic turnaround in his fortunes from last week, but he had shown what he could do today and that is that he could be a talent in the future for Spurs.  It has been a while coming, but now he has broken into the first team, he has shown Pochettino's faith can be repaid.

Rattled by the goal, Palace were open straight afterwards, as Spurs twice almost got through with good passes seeing Moura and Lamela nearly get onto the ball, with both beaten to the ball by Hennessey, but only just.  Palace finally got into the Spurs box with 15 minutes left, but Lloris did well to dive low to gather a cross along the ground aimed towards Sorloth from Ayew. It started when Wanyama was bundled over in midfield and then Sissoko was pushed down by Schlupp, but play was allowed to continue and Foyth had to intervene to stop the ball going across goal.  Coming after Alderweireld was knocked over from behind by Ayew in the opening stages of the game, it looked like Jon Moss was being overly generous to the physical approach that Palace were taking.

Too many of Tottenham’s moves were being terminated by sloppy touches and it was allowing the Eagles to get back into the game.  A free-kick caused confusion in the Tottenham defence when it bounced high in the air and fell out to Schlupp, whose drive was punched out by Lloris and referee Moss let play go on until it was pointed out to him that Erik Lamela has sustained a cut head when Schlupp fell onto him.  With blood streaming from his forehead, Harry Winks came on to replace our winger and this coincided with a spell of pressure for Palace, with Wanyama coolly playing the ball out when it got caught under his feet around the penalty spot.  Another ball into the Spurs box ended with van Aanholt’s ball coming off Foyth and Townsend trying a volley on the turn, but it wasn’t met with his laces, so he sliced it and Lloris could flop to his right to get his body behind it and hold the ball.  Winks was booked for pulling back Ayew when he got away from him by the corner flag at the Spurs end and Palace were flinging balls into the Spurs area in an attempt to unsettle the defence. 

The situation wasn’t helped by Tottenham’s inability to hold onto the ball.  Lamela’s departure had a lot to do with that, but it appears something we are suffering with at the tail end of games lately.  In the first minute of added time, a shot from Milivojecvic was blocked, but the ball dropped invitingly in front of Sorloth.  Palace's Norwegian striker drove it hard at goal from eight yards out, but Hugo beat it out at his near post to keep Spurs ahead.  From the resulting corner, Heung-Min Son almost made it 2-0, as Sissoko took the ball away and played Sonny in on the right. He came inside and looked set to slot it past Hennessey, but Kelly came from nowhere to take the ball off him for a corner.

The home team looked to bomb balls at the Tottenham defence, but in the five added minutes, the back four held out and Tottenham had won another away game, another game 1-0 over Palace and Palace had failed to win at home again and failed to score again.  Some things never change ! 

Palace always put up a fight against Spurs and make it difficult to play against them, but they sacrifice their attacking options, looking solely to hit on the break or through set-pieces.  They should have done better with the few chances they made, but Foyth's reading of the situation at the other end was the difference between the sides in the end.  Not a classic display by Spurs and not conditions that were conducive to a flowing game of football, but it was another three points in the bag as the good start continues. 

The good thing at the moment is not just the points total, but players who are coming in are playing well, as Sissoko continues to improve and Wanyama looked more like his old self tonight.  With a bit more depth added in January, it could help Spurs in the run-in to the end of the season.  That is a long way off and tough games are coming, with Chelsea next, but Pochettino can be satisfied with the first dozen games.

James from Hertford

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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 1 Saturday
Huddersfield Town 1 West Ham United London - Saturday
Leicester City 0 Burnley 1 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Bournemouth 1 Saturday
Southampton 1 Watford 1 Saturday
Manchester City 3 Manchester United 1 Sunday
Chelsea 0 Everton 0 Sunday
Arsenal 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Fulham 0 Sunday




League Table  2018-19
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester City 12 10 2 0 36 5 32 +31
2 Liverpool 12 9 3 0 23 5 30 +18
3 Chelsea 12 8 4 0 27 8 28 +19
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 12 9 0 3 20 10 27 +10
5 Arsenal 12 7 3 2 26 15 24 +11
6 Bournemouth 12 6 2 4 21 16 20 +5
7 Watford 12 6 2 4 17 14 20 +3
8 Manchester United 12 6 2 4 20 21 20 -1
9 Everton 12 5 4 3 19 15 19 +4
10 Leicester City 12 5 2 5 17 16 17 +1
11 Wolverhampton Wanderers 12 4 4 4 12 13 16 -1
12 Brighton & Hove Albion 12 4 2 7 12 18 14 -6
13 West Ham United London 12 3 3 6 14 18 12 -4
14 Newcastle United 12 2 3 7 9 15 9 -6
15 Burnley 12 2 3 7 12 25 9 -13
16 Crystal Palace 12 2 2 8 8 17 8 -9
17 Southampton 12 1 5 6 8 21 8 -13
18 Cardiff City 12 2 2 8 11 25 8 -14
19 Huddersfield Town 12 1 4 7 6 22 7 -16
20 Fulham 12 1 2 9 11 31 5 -20


Position before match :  4th
Position after match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th


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