Tottenham and Crystal Palace meet at White Hart Lane in the Premier League with both teams requiring the points but for different reasons. Tim Sherwood will want to show that his Spurs team is capable of finding a way to overcome the well-drilled defensive set-up that Palace are sure to present this afternoon.
A 3pm kick-off on a Saturday at White Hart Lane, now that’s a novelty and Spurs will want to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of the FA Cup defeat at the Emirates. With such competition among the clubs at the top of the league there is no room for a slip up or complacency against a Palace side who have shown an improvement in recent weeks. This is the type of game which proved so difficult for Andre Villas-Boas’ very disciplined style of play so Sherwood will be looking for his players to show greater creativity and be prepared to take more of a risk in and around the Palace area.
Tottenham and Palace are under new management compared to the opening day of the season when optimism was high for both clubs. Now, in mid-January, reality has hit home for both clubs who realise that if they are to achieve their objectives for the season, they’re going to have to fight for them. Spurs have a fight on their hands to make a Champions League place finish while for Palace it is a battle for survival to retain their Premier League place.
Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose; Lennon, Bentaleb, Dembele, Eriksen; Adebayor, Soldado Subs: Friedel, Fryers, Naughton, Capoue, Chadli, Holtby, Defoe
Opening Day Meeting:
In mid-August, Roberto Soldado scored his first goal for Spurs from the penalty spot in a hard-earned win over newly promoted Palace at Selhurst Park. It was the only goal of the game, won when a cross from Aaron Lennon was handled and despatched with ease by our new Spanish striker. We didn’t know it at the time but that was an indication of things to come. A tight defence by Spurs but with little excitement and few goals and Soldado having to rely on penalties to get on the score sheet.
Tottenham’s Home League Record Against Crystal Palace (inc. PL):
P 14 W 5 D 6 L 3 For 19 Ag 12
Premier League Record against Palace at the Lane:
P 4 W 0 D 3 L 1 For 3 Ag 4
Last Meeting at WHL:
28th December, 2004 PL Draw 1 – 1 Defoe
Tottenham will be seeking their first Premier League home win over Palace today. In their last visit Palace brought Tottenham’s run of 5 successive league victories to an end. It was the season when Martin Jol took over from Jacques Santini with Spurs in a run of 6 league defeats on the trot only to immediately follow it with 5 wins. Jermain Defoe put Spurs ahead against their London rivals early in the second half but a late goal with 11 minutes remaining from Andy Johnson levelled the score. Palace won 3 – 0 in the return game a few weeks later.
Palace won 1 – 0 at White Hart Lane in November, 1997, scoring the only goal of the game in the second half. The defeat to Palace was the one game when Chris Hughton was in temporary charge following the departure of Gerry Francis and the arrival of Christian Gross.
The first match between the two clubs at White Hart in the Football League was in December, 1969 when Spurs won 2 – 0 with goals from Alan Mullery and Steve Perryman.
Palace have struggled this season and been constantly in the relegation places leading to the dismissal of Ian Holloway. Tony Pulis has taken over and there has been an improvement in recent results with Palace’s once generous defence being much more miserly. They have won twice away from home but have lost 8 games. Their wins have come at Hull City (1 – 0) in November and Aston Villa (1 – 0) on Boxing Day. They also won at West Brom (2 – 0) last weekend in the FA Cup.
As would be expected with Tony Pulis in charge, he has tightened up Palace’s defensive work and they have kept 4 clean sheets in 9 games in all competitions since he took over. In their first 10 matches they conceded 21 goals without keeping a clean sheet but have now had 6 in all competitions. Palace defender Tony Gabbidon’s thoughts on the new manager were reported on the BBC Sport website,
In this league, especially with the lower teams, you need everybody to put a shift in, to know what they are doing and to be organised. That is what the gaffer has instilled in all of us since he has come in.
Palace have won just 1 of their last 5 league games but have taken 10 points from their 8 games under Pulis with 3 wins and a draw. Their leading goalscorer is Marouane Chamakh whom they signed from Arsenal with 5 goals. Young striker Dwight Gayle who was signed from Peterborough has 4 goals and both scored in last weekend’s win over WBA.
Tim Sherwood discovered the realities of management last weekend. Spurs need to recover from the defeat and the disappointing performance to keep their league season on track. It won’t be an easy game as Palace will arrive in high confidence after their recent encouraging form and determined to improve on their league position of 18th, two points ahead of West Ham and just one behind Cardiff City.
Spurs are only two points behind 4th placed Liverpool with Everton in 5th a point better off than Tottenham.
Away from home at Southampton and Manchester United it was easier to counter-attack and Spurs benefited but at home against a well organised team, sitting deep it will be much more difficult.
Spurs injury problems continue to hinder Sherwood’s selection but Jermain Defoe, Lewis Holtby, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andros Townsend have recovered from injury and are available to the manager. It is thought that Erik Lamela is still not fully fit so Sherwood is unlikely to risk him. Roberto Soldado has recovered from the injury picked up against Arsenal and could continue alongside Emmanuel Adebayor.
Palace have no major problems so will be at full strength with only a few minor concerns.
Tottenham know what to expect from a Tony Pulis team. It will a high-energy, total commitment performance from Palace with the high ball forward plus free-kicks and corners as their main source of danger. Pulis oversaw two draws in his last two games with Stoke at White Hart Lane – a scoreless draw last season and it was only a late Tottenham equaliser which snatched a point the previous season. It could be a difficult afternoon for Spurs who will have to match Palace’s effort and hope that they can make an early breakthrough in the London derby.