OPPONENTS Crystal Palace
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 11th January 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Relegation is probably something that Crystal Palace fans don't want to think about and have had it drift a bit further to the back of their minds since Tony Pulis took over from Ian Holloway as manager of their team.  Spurs need only three more points to be more or less safe from that fate.  And that will be earlier than I can recall in living memory.

With Palace's resurgence in form, this will not be as straightforward a task as it might have proved a few weeks back.  Marouane Chamakh has suddenly started scoring goals, the midfield are creating chances and the defence are more organised to be resilient.  However, they are still inconsistent even though they may be picking some more points up to add to their meagre total.  A 0-3 reverse at home to Newcastle United was followed by an away win at Villa, a creditable 0-1 defeat at Manchester City and then a 1-1 home draw with Norwich City.  Previously they had 1-0 wins over Hull City away and West Ham United at home.

Julian Speroni has been their keeper for a number of years now, but he is still a useful goalie, although his performances have been hampered this season by a dodgy defence.   Central defender Damien Delaney has been found out a bit after having a good Championships season, with Paddy McCarthy and Adrian Mariappa the same.  Joel Ward and Dean Moxey have stuck at their task and both like to get forward on the flanks, but will need to be aware of the threat Spurs have on the wings in this match.  They also have Danny Gabbidon who had played top flight football with West Ham United, but he was a free signing and his career is now winding down.

In midfield, the signing of Barry Bannon from Aston Villa seemed a good one, as he is a busy player with a good shot, but his effectiveness has been limited by the need to be working back instead of pushing on.  Yannick Bolasie is a skilful player, but he ahs not been a regular this season with the step up being difficult to bridge.  Kagisho Dikgacoi is a willing worker in trying to destroy moves in midfield, alongside Mile Jedinak, who is no stranger to a yellow card.  Stuart O'Keefe showed promise at the start of the campaign, but has fallen out of the spotlight, as Jason Punchoen and Jonathan Williams have featured with both being leggy runners, who can prompt and join in attacks.

In the forward department, Chamakh has been a changed man since Pulis took over and may be the main threat.  Youngster Dwight Gayle, signed from Peterborough United, is energetic, but has still to find his touch that is so important when stepping up a couple of divisions.  With last season's top scorer Glenn Murray missing the bulk of the season through a knee ligament injury, Cameron Jerome reacquaints himself with his former Stoke manager and might be used as a target man, while Kevin Phillips is still in the squad, although might go out on loan in this transfer window.  Aaron Wilbraham is still on the books, but is not likely to make an appearance if others are fit.

And fit is the problem for Spurs at the moment, meaning that youngsters are getting a chance, with Bentaleb the main beneficiary of Sherwood taking over.  With a few players facing late fitness tests, it may be a changed side that takes the field, but they cannot take Palace for granted and should approach the match in the same manner they did against Stoke City.  Different team, different manager, but there may be a similar approach to facing Spurs, so a patient game, with lots of possession and plenty done with it.  Palace will be dogged, but Tottenham should come out on top.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2         Crystal Palace    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Paulinho (ankle) and Younes Kaboul (thigh, though back in training) will not be able to play against Palace on Saturday.  There are a number of players with doubts about their involvement, but a number trained on Thursday, so may have an outside chance of  playing.   Jermain Defoe, Kyle Naughton, Andros Townsend, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Erik Lamela (all hamstring), Lewis Holtby (knock) and calf injury victims, Sandro and Roberto Soldado all face late tests to see if they can be selected.
Jerome Thomas (calf) and Jack Hunt (ankle) are both definitely out, while Adlene Guedioura (ribs) and Glenn Murray (knee ligaments) are both closing on being fit again, but might not make it for this game.

Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.30 (highlights)   [repeated at 07:35 Sunday]  Also available online.
Goals on Sunday (Sky Sports 1) - Sunday 11.00
Match of the Day 2  (BBC 1) - Sunday 22.25 (highlights)  Also available online.

For coverage in all parts of the world, check here and here.

Radio :  
BBC LONDON 94.9FM (London area only), Digital Radio (London area only) &  Sky Channel 0152  (live coverage)
Commentary may be found on
>   BBC Radio Five Live (live coverage)  606/939 MW
TalkSport (DAB or 1089 MW)
Absolute Radio  (1215 AM/MW)

If available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard in these countries on these stations ...
Australia (Melbourne)
SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
Australia (Sydney) 
Radio 2  -  1611AM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 12.45 Match
Media Corp Radio  -  93.8 FM  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
South Africa 
SABC (Radio 2000)  Live Transmission: TWI, Saturday, 15.00 Match
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North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean) 
Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

Internet :   Live webcast  - subscribers only
BBC London - click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.

Tottenham Hotspur  2 (0)                                                                   Crystal Palace  0 (0)
Premier League
Saturday 11th January 2014                                                                                                       Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
Eriksen 50
Defoe 73
Naughton (foul on Parr)  79


Mariappa (foul on Rose)  69
Jedinak (foul on Defoe)  76


Crowd :   36,102 Weather :  Chilly, but bright
Referee :  Michael Oliver (Northumberland) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Long; Mr. L. Betts
Fourth Official :  J. Adcock -
Crystal Palace kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 5 minutes
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Crystal Palace : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

  2  Kyle WALKER  (16  Kyle NAUGHTON  47     )
20  Michael DAWSON (c)
  3  Danny ROSE

  7  Aaron LENNON
23  Christian ERIKSEN    (21 
Nacer CHADLI  76)
42  Nabil BENTALEB
15  Andros TOWNSEND

  9  Roberto SOLDADO  (18  Jermain DEFOE  58  )  
10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
15  Etienne CAPOUE
14  Lewis HOLTBY

    1  Julian SPERONI

  3  Adrian MARIAPPA     
  Damien DELANEY
19  Danny GABBIDON
  4  Jonathan PARR

13  Jason PUNCHEON  (31  Adlene GUERDIOURA 82)
  2  Joel WARD
15  Mile JEDINAK     
Yannik BOLASIE  (20  Jonathan WILLIAMS 69)

30  Cameron JEROME  (16  Dwight GAYLE 69)
  Marouane CHAMAKH

Unused subs: 
34  Lewis PRICE
21  Dean MOXEY
12  Stuart O'KEEFE
46  Barry BANNON

Manager :  Tim Sherwood Manager :  Tony Pulis
Sponsor :   Hewlett Packard Shirt sponsor :  GAC
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

A match that somewhat followed the same format as the previous home game against Stoke City saw Tottenham win to reach 40 points for the season and send Crystal Palace into the bottom place in the table, although the pattern of play in the first half did not reflect the final score-line.

Palace played two forwards and went at Spurs in a  first 45 minutes, in which they could have been 2-0 ahead at the end of it.  As it was, the early opportunities that they had ... and missed ... were to cost them points from this match.

Tottenham had never beaten Palace at home in the Premier League before kick off and with the club struggling to find a fluency in their play, a Tony Pulis side was the last thing they needed in their way when on a such a good league run.  Fielding the same team that lost at Arsenal, Tim Sherwood set out to take on a Place side that kicked off and attacked from the first whistle.  A couple of times, Cameron Jerome strayed offside, Puncheon has a shot that went wide, with Lloris confident that the ball would miss the target low to his left and Lennon had to cover back to dispossess Parr as he went into the Spurs box.  Tottenham's one bright moment was when Nabil Bentaleb struck a low shot that Speroni had to dive to his left to get behind and then had to grab it at the second attempt.

But seven minutes in, Mousa Dembele tracked a run by Marouane Chamakh into the Tottenham area and when the Palace striker got in front of him, Dembele crashed into the back of him and the referee quickly pointed to the spot.   Spurs didn't need a start like this, but when Jason Puncheon stepped up to take the penalty, he nonchalantly struck his shot way, way, way, way high to the right of Lloris' goal.  It was enough to miss two penalties and the upper reaches of the Paxton were the most at risk.  It is as long time since I had seen a penalty so wide of the mark.  It transpired that this was the first penalty in the Premier League so far this season to be off target.  Nothing like doing it in style.

But while Dawson was instructing Kyle Walker where he should be in the defence, Spurs did not learn from the penalty.  They allowed Palace to break on them quickly, while not moving the ball quickly enough themselves.  This led to the Spurs goal being under pressure for much of the first half. As it was, we were grateful to the South Londoners not being able to finish moves and a bit of luck that saw us through this sticky patch.  A corner allowed Jedinak a free header, but fortunately, Chamakh got in his way and he glanced it over and then Mariappa had a couple of chances to cross in from the right, but put them out for goal-kicks, with Puncheon aiming for the same spot his penalty went to with a cross instead of picking out a yellow shirt.  With Eriksen dropping infield, it sometimes left Rose exposed on our left and Walker was having a difficult time with the tricky Bolasie, but the Palace wide man proved to be mostly all tricks and no end product. 

It seemed to please the Palace fans, who were noisy all afternoon.  Criticising the Spurs fans for being so quiet, the main noises coming from the away section were those of disappointment, as chance after chance went begging.  A goalmouth melee from a corner saw the ball drop invitingly in front of Joel Ward, but the midfielder (usually a defender) could only knock it off target from close range.  Tottenham's passing was a bit ragged and that might have been as a result of the lack of movement.  There was precious little space, with Palace's players immediately getting behind the ball as  soon as they lost it.  With Michael Dawson throwing himself in the way of efforts on goal, one by Parr went wide off him and then another from Puncheon into the side-netting.  In the 28th minute, another swift passing move put Jerome in on the right side of centre and the big striker hit a shot that Lloris had to beat out and keep it out, but couple of minutes later, Spurs made a decent move of their own down their right and Lennon's cross was waist high across the six yard box, but Adebayor could not quite reach it.  Another couple of minutes passed and this time it was the Spurs goal that survived, with a corner ending with Chamakh getting a shot on target that might have gone in, but Bolasie did well to stop that happening by getting in the way.

Every time there was a corner, the wrestling between players was quite evident to those watching from the stands.  Jedinak and Delaney were perhaps the worst culprits, with Ward and Gabbidon also receiving dishonourable mentions, but it escaped the three match officials ... unless it was somewhere other than the penalty box. 

The game wasn't getting any more open, but chances were coming and a long passing move ended with Dembele laying the ball into the path of Bentaleb, who struck it from a  couple of yards outside the box, slightly left of the D.  The ball was well hit and it beat Speroni, but hit the inside of the keeper's right post, bounced across goal and went off for a goal-kick.  It looked like our luck was out at that end of the pitch.  Soldado wasn't getting the service his moves were requiring, but he got away on the right when tight to the goal-line, but just as he looked like squaring the ball Delaney nicked it off his toe,

Just before the break Chiriches got a bloody nose when challenging Chamakh in the air and needed treatment, in what was a worrying moment, as he broke his nose only recently and we did not have another central defender on the bench, other than utilising Capoue there, as Sherwood had done recently.

The half time whistle was greeted with some boos and then we had a guest from the Spurs Foundation, outlining what they are doing and they sound very busy as Grant Cornwell said they put on "lots of activities; 365 days a week" !!

There were no changes at the interval, but a couple of minutes into the half, Spurs lost Kyle Walker - possibly through injury - but he was replaced by his namesake Naughton.  While people are divided over Naughton's worth to the squad, he is happier at right back and put in a good performance, stemming the supply from that side.

Whether it was a result of that change or instructions from Sherwood during the half-time team talk, but Spurs started at a better tempo and started to make inroads through the massed ranks of yellow shirts put between them and goal.  Eriksen has been freed on the right in the area, but his shot hit a Palace defender's backside and went off for a corner on the other side of the goal, when we needed it to come off a player's arse and go in.  Lennon then got away on the right and his cross  was once more, just too far ahead of Rose this time.  Chiriches decided to move forward and try to bring players out to him, so, when it opened up, he decided to have a shot, but with a defender closing in on him, he rushed his effort and it went well wide. 

However, as goal was only minutes away and came from an unusual route.  One !!  Five minutes into the second half, Kyle Naughton played a high ball up to a central position about 25 yards out.  Emmanuel Adebayor rose between two Palace defenders and managed to flick the ball on behind him, where Bolasie had allowed Eriksen to get free and the Dane struck a powerful early shot rising into the roof of the net, with Speroni not getting near it.  It is not the sort of goal we score very often and showed the importance of the midfield getting up to support the forwards, which we failed to manage in the first half.

I'm not sure what the problem with Adebayor was after the goal.  He seemed to be remonstrating with the fans behind the Paxton goal and after the restart, he was running around like a madman, with a red card waiting for him at the end of it.  When a Palace corner was cleared to him, he suddenly thought he was Gareth bal and pushed the ball twenty yards in front of him ,hoping to beat Mariappa to it.  He didn't.  He was lucky that he didn't connect with one of the Palace players when they went forward with the ball later, as his sliding challenge might have been deemed out of control after his previous efforts.

As it was, the goal knocked the stuffing out of Palace, who rarely threatened after that.   Spurs were finding more space and Rose was getting away on the left, with one cross just needing Ade to stretch out a long leg to connect, but the ball went out off Delaney.  Despite being almost held up in the air, Dawson headed down a corner, but there was no white shirt on hand to finish it.  Rose's crossing often found Speroni's gloves, while Lennon's often went over the heads the forwards in the box.   Aaron got away on the right just before Soldado was substituted and with the Spanish striker looking for a low ball into the box, so that eh could get across the front of his marker, the ball sailed over them and away beyond the box on the other side.  it is an aspect of our game that needs to be improved, with the BBC's stat this week that Lennon, Holtby, Sigurdsson and Townsend had not provided one Premier League assist so far this season.  #improvement.

With Soldado's departure, it brought the entry of the departing Defoe.  The forward has agreed a deal to join Toronto FC and will be back on loan until the end of February, so has the chance to take the remaining minutes he plays for the club to add to his goal tally.  He nearly did so within minutes, as Benatleb slipped a pass through to him and he came in from the left to bend a shot just wide of the far post and Ade was also just inches away from putting it in.  As Sherwood's change produced Tottenham's first goal, a double substitution by Pulis preceded the second.  With Spurs enjoying their best spell of the game, Aaron cut inside from the right and played an astute pass into Defoe just inside the box, just to the right of the penalty spot.  Turning tightly and controlling the ball with his left foot, he got away from a lumbering centre-half and then kept his composure to delay his shot until Parr and Delaney had committed themselves to sliding in, Jermain took another stride past them and as it looked like he might fall over, he struck his right foot shot beyond the despairing dive of Speroni to hit the net like he has done 142 times before.  The crowd roared and he took the acclaim for one of the last times in front of his home crowd.

After the second goal, Spurs contented themselves with long periods of possession.  Mainly around the halfway line, with Palace dropping deep to get men behind the ball, which hindered their chances of getting back into the game, albeit at a late stage.  Nabil Bentaleb has said in the week how it was an honour to play with Mousa Dembele in midfield and a couple of interchanges, including a cheeky back-heel by the youngster showed he was enjoying himself.  He also tried a few nutmegs, which indicated he was feeling more confident among his team-mates now.

Chadli had replaced Christian Eriksen, but within a couple of minutes, he was receiving treatment for a hand injury sustained when he was ushered into the advertising hoardings behind the running track by Mariappa.  The Belgian winger did return with his hand bandaged, but there was little involvement, as Palace looked for a last hurrah, but couldn't achieve what they wanted.  Puncheon handled the ball when clean through and the referee didn't booking him for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, as he had seen what he managed from the penalty spot. 

They did make some chances, with Ward missing well wide to the right when he had a shot from around 12 yards out, substitute Guedioura fired a shot wide, which Lloris stood and watched, so must have been convinced it wasn't on target (I hope) and Jedinak put a header wide from a corner before Hugo had to be alert to tip a header from Chamakh over the bar with a good reflex save.  He was more relieved to see Chamakh's header form the next corner land on the top of the net.

When Lloris took the goal kick the final whistle blew and the three points won secures Spurs another season in the Premier League.  Target one for the season accomplished, the side now need to push on and pick up the pace on the top five above them, making sure that they don't put in too many more performances like the first 45 minutes, as they will not get off so lightly against better teams than Crystal Palace.  The visitors produced an un-Pulis like approach for the first half, but whatever was said at half-time in their dressing room turned the game, with Tottenham having the better of the second half.

There are concerns about Walker's injury and I assume that Soldado went off as he had been carrying a knock all week, but if the team can move, pass and create like they did after half-time, there is no reason why they can't get up around the European places come the end of the season.

'Keynsey' Milton


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What you thought
The Funky Phantom What a penalty.  People will be talking about it for years.  It was a real "I Was There" moment !!

I think that Puncheon's problem was it was too far in for him.

It was so bad it almost missed the Paxton Road stand too !!

- -.



Other scores during this week :
Cardiff City 0 West Ham United 2 Saturday
Everton 2 Norwich City 0 Saturday
Fulham 1 Sunderland 4 Saturday
Hull City 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Manchester United 2 Swansea City 0 Saturday
Southampton 1 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Stoke City 3 Liverpool 5 Sunday
Newcastle United 0 Manchester City 2 Sunday
Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 21 15 3 3 41 19 48 +22
2 Manchester City 21 15 2 4 59 23 47 +36
3 Chelsea 21 14 4 3 40 19 46 +21
4 Liverpool 21 13 3 5 51 26 42 +25
5 Everton 21 11 8 2 34 19 41 +15
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 21 12 4 5 26 25 40 +1
7 Manchester United 21 11 4 6 35 24 37 +11
8 Newcastle United 21 10 3 8 29 27 33 +2
9 Southampton 21 8 6 7 27 22 30 +3
10 Hull City 21 6 5 10 22 27 23 -3
11 Aston Villa 21 6 5 10 20 27 23 -7
12 Stoke City 21 5 6 10 21 32 22 -11
13 Swansea City 21 5 6 10 26 30 21 -4
14 West Bromwich Albion 21 4 9 8 23 28 21 -5
15 Norwich City 21 5 5 11 17 35 20 -18
16 Fulham 21 6 1 14 22 46 19 -24
17 West Ham United 21 4 6 11 21 30 18 -9
18 Cardiff City 21 4 6 11 15 34 18 -19
19 Sunderland 21 4 5 12 19 34 17 -15
20 Crystal Palace 21 5 2 14 13 33 17 -17


Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  5th
Position after the weekend :

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