OPPONENTS Crystal Palace
COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 6th December 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Crystal Palace are rallying after a poor start when Tony Pulis resigned on the eve of the new season, eventually being replaced by former Eagles boss and relegation dodger Neil Warnock.  The South Londoners have picked up some good wins, with Everton and Liverpool, with narrow defeats to a number of other top half teams.  For Spurs, there will be a thought in Palace minds that they might be able to get something from this match.  In the home dressing room ,Poch will need to work out how to get through a packed Midfield and a well-drilled defence to breach the Palace back four.

Julian Speroni is a good shot-stopper, but he has had quite a lot to try and stop and has not succeeded with them all, with Villa squeezing one past him in the last match.  In reserve, Palace have the Welsh keeper Wayne Hennessey, who was a very good keeper when he first broke through at Wolverhampton Wanderers, but has slipped a little from those standards.  Slightly built, he is not comfortable coming for crosses, but his reactions are good.

Damien Delaney is out of the defence injured, but the introduction of Joel Ward last season has helped Palace find an attacking full back with prospects.  This season he has had a dip in form but he has been a regular and Spurs may find his up-field presence leaves space for them to get players played in behind him.  Having allowed Zeki Fryers to join Palace in the summer, Spurs will know him well, but under Warnock, his chances have been limited, meaning more games for Martin Kelly, who was a great hope for Liverpool, but was sold on to Palace.  Both are young English full backs who can both double at centre-half, while they both have a liking for getting forward up the line.   I think that Warnock will have his full backs defending more than attacking today and an early goal for Spurs could certainly bring that into effect sooner. 

There are three central defenders to choose form and they are much of a muchness.  All strong in the air and all having been involved in sides relegated from the top flight. Scott Dann (Birmingham City), Brede Hangeland (Fulham) and  Adrian Mariappa (Watford) have experience of unsuccessful fights against the drop, but if Tottenham are intent on playing high balls forward, then they will enjoy their afternoon, as they are all tall, strapping defenders, who would make mincemeat of Soldado or Kane.  None are particularly quick, so on the break, they may be struglging.

In midfield Jerome Thomas has been rarely used, with mercurial wide-man Yannick Bolasie preferred.  Bolasie has tricks and flicks, but has added end product to his game this season, with a few goals and some assists, making him a player who can't be allowed to get too near goal.   The midfield is driven by captain Mile Jedinak, who is a tackler, who likes to get forward and is good with a dead ball.  Welshman Joe Ledley has been around, with a number of clubs on his CV, but he is a decent passer, although his legs don't carry him around as fast as they used to.  Former Wigan Athletic midfielder James McArthur is a player who can pass and run with the ball, but sometimes, he is not that decisive in his final ball.  Scored here for Wigan a few seasons back, but he may be a substitute, something that could apply to tricky winger Jimmy Kebe, who was previously at Reading.  Jason Puncheon may well play and the attacking midfielder may be out to erase the embarrassing memory of last season when he ballooned a penalty high into the Paxton Road crowd.  A former striker, he is best known for having to leave the field to use the toilet when he played for Southampton, but he has the ability to finish well, given the chance.

The attack features a number of familiar names for one reason or another.  Wilfried Zaha has returned to Palace on loan from Manchester United after he failed to settle in there and the change of manager has seen him farmed back to Selhurst Park to get some playing time.  He hasn't been a regular, but, when he was there before, he showed good skill on the ball and a knack for getting goals that helped the Eagles to promotion.   I'm not sure if he will start, but it wouldn't surprise me if their manager threw him in to try and prove himself against Spurs.  A former Tottenham loanee is likely to be up front for them, with Frazier Campbell having been signed from Cardiff City in the summer.  A skinny, but quick striker, Campbell should have gone on from United to have a decent career, but it los tit's way a bit after leaving Old Trafford.  He does have a scoring touch, but has to make the most of the chances that come his way and he has often had to share striking duties with former Gooner Marouane Chamakh.  A player who likes a dive and proclaims to hate Tottenham, he was shipped out of Highbury and looked like he didn't want to give 100%, so he eventually accepted a move to Palace and has scored a few.  No doubt he will be keen to get on the score-sheet in this match, but hopefully our defenders can prevent that.  Others who are in the options for forward choices include former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Reading striker Kevin Doyle, who is on loan form QPR, former Fulham, Birmingham City and QPR forward Andy Johnson and non-league signing Dwight Gayle.  Of the three, Gayle is possibly the most dangerous, with pace and a good finish, he can trouble defences with his running.

Palace signed a lot of players with Premier League experience, but many of them have experience of relegation and are past their best.  Tottenham's task will be to start fast and get on the front foot to give Palace more to think about at the back to prevent them thinking about getting forward.  I am sure that a lot of teams now come to White Hart Lane thinking they can take something home, but with Adebayor not playing and hopefully the rest of the squad not too worried about playing at home now they have beaten Everton, they need to start turning on the performances that contain Pochettino's philosophy.

The team also need to take a tip from Chelsea's performance against Spurs and make the most of the possession you have.  Our movement and passing against Everton was much better and the use of the ball made Everton chase around, pinning them back for long periods, with the closing game ensuring that the Merseysiders didn't break out of their half with much intent.

Warnock will have his side set up to break on Spurs, so we need the back four and the two in front of them to be alert to that.  On the other hand, Bentlaeb and Mason were effective in springing attacks on Everton, so they will be key to the Tottenham performance if they are paired together again.

It won't be an easy win, but none are these days for Spurs.  But I expect them to go on and take the three points, hopefully in a bit of style.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2         Crystal Palace    0
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Tottenham may make changes from the side that lost to Chelsea in mid-week, but there are no new injury problems, so Kyle Walker (hip), Emmanuel Adebayor (virus), Andros Townsend (ankle) and Etienne Capoue (knock) are the ones who will not be ready to play against Crystal Palace.  Danny Rose could return, which would help the defence, which may be missing Vlad Chiriches and Kyle Naughton are suffering with knocks and will face late fitness tests.
Joe Ledley (hip), Damien Delaney (calf) and Adrian Mariappa (knee) are all unavailable, but Dwight Gayle returns after leaving the pitch on Tuesday against Villa, suffering with an illness.

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Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)                                                    Crystal Palace  0 (0)
Premier League
Saturday 6th December 2014                                                                               Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
None None
Eriksen (foul on Chamakh) 88





Crowd :   35,860 Weather :  Cold, bright
Referee :  Lee Mason (Bolton) Assistant Referees :  Mr. S. Beck; Mr. A. Halliday
Fourth Official :  Phil Dowd -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 3 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Crystal Palace : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS (c)

15  Eric DIER
21  Federico FAZIO
33  Ben DAVIES

38  Ryan MASON  (  8  PAULINHO 66)
42  Nabil BENTALEB

11  Erik LAMELA  (22  Nacer CHADLI 46)
18  Harry KANE
23  Christian ERIKSEN     

  9  Roberto SOLDADO  (  7  Aaron LENNON 83)

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM
  3  Danny ROSE
25  Benjamin STAMBOULI


    1  Julian SPERONI

34  Martin KELLY
  6  Scott DANN
  4  Brede HANGELAND
  2  Joel WARD

11  Wilfried ZAHA  (42  Jason PUNCHEON 66)
15  Mile JEDINAK (c)
28  Joe LEDLEY
18  James McARTHUR
  7  Yannick BOLASIE

29  Marouane CHAMAKH

Unused subs: 
27  Damien DELANEY
25  Barry BANNON
10  Frazier CAMPBELL
14  Jerome THOMAS
16  Dwight GAYLE

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Neil Warnock
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Neteller
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   Macron
Match report

The Christmas boos rang out at the end of the match that saw Crystal Palace stifle Spurs and go close to winning, but had to settle for a 0-0 draw.  It was another example of teams coming to Tottenham to get men behind the ball and Spurs not being able to break them down despite once more having the bulk of the possession.

The fact that Tottenham were grateful to the woodwork and the hands of Hugo Lloris probably tells you more about the game than you need to know, as the side struggled to get through the massed ranks of Neteller shirts that quickly assembled in front of them, sometimes aided by the slow build-up Spurs went in for.  Sometimes, the ball had to go backwards, as that was the only option with forward movement lacking or difficult with hordes of Palace players surrounding the Tottenham players trying to find space behind them.  Things were not helped by the narrow way Spurs played, with only Lamela hugging the touchline in the first half and then Chadli, who replaced him.  It was the road to ruin and so it nearly was.

Lamela was restored to the starting line-up, with Soldado up front and Kane dropping back into an attacking midfield role.  The game started with Eric Dier, in for the injured Chiriches, going down injured off the ball.  He returned after a short spell of treatment and a change of sock !!  The first effort on goal came when Eriksen nut-megged Dann skilfully tight to the line and tried a shot, but it was a tight angle and he only hit the side-netting from a few yards out.

The referee was seemingly intent on making our task as difficult as possible, with a series of decisions going Palace's way, mainly because their players fell to earth really easily.  A strange trait for a Neil Warnock side.  Jedinak fired a free-kick into the wall from a central position just outside the penalty area when Lamela tried to clear a dropping ball and Ward came in and collided.  The Eagles captain hit the rebound back at goal, but Lloris was well behind it and saved easily.  From a corner soon after, Ryan Mason rose highest, but could only flick his header and it missed the far post by a matter of feet.  The pressure was building on Spurs, as the opposition moved the ball wide and exposed the full backs to Zaha and Bolasie running at them.

Ledley fired over from Bolasie's pull back, then the winger hit a shot way over the bar and then from another corner, Scott Dann met it with a far post header and Lloris had to be alert at full stretch to push the ball out and the ball was then hacked away.  In between, Kane had a shot well wide form 20 plus yards out and when Tottenham did put a decent move together, Soldado was leaning back when he hit Ben Davies' low square ball and it flew too high.

When Fazio headed the back of Chamakh's head, the Palace man went down claiming a head-butt, but the referee played on despite Fazio bleeding form his wound.  It is odd when, after all the years match officials spend on football pitches, they still seem to be unable to determine when a challenge is a foul or not or when a player is really injured.  Also, any consistency that we, the paying public, might expect from officials was sorely missing today, with Fazio and Eriksen having their shirts ripped off them not even given the prospect of a free-kick, while later in the game, Bolasie shoved Vertonghen off the pitch with no sign of a free0kick, but Eriksen's attempt at a tackle on Chamakh saw the former Gooner go down, expecting contact and earning Christian a booking.

Just after the half hour, Tottenham had a spell of pressure, with Speroni diving to keep out Eriksen's 25 yard free-kick, Soldado heading over and then Kane had a shot blocked, Soldado hit the keeper with a volley and then headed another effort wide from a near post position.  Just before the break, Zaha showed a good piece of skill to get past Dier and Mason, but his shot after that was not as impressive, curling it wide of the far post.

Half-time was spent enjoying the schadenfreude of Arsenal being 0-3 down at Stoke, but also worrying about our own situation.  With Chadli coming on for Lamela, who was getting crowded out on the right wing, perhaps a more muscular presence might work.  That didn't quite work, as the formation changed to a 4-3-3, but that left the full backs exposed, especially Dier, who didn't need that.

From a short corner, ten minutes in, Zaha hit a shot that Lloris had to beat out, but then Spurs came back into the match, with a few neat passing moves up the right which came to nothing, but then Soldado turned his man on the 18 yard line and fired wide, Kane struck a curling effort which kept going wide, with Bolasie replicating that effort with a shot that almost went off for a throw-in when he was well-placed. 

Puncheon came on for Zaha and Paulinho for Mason, with the Palace change having more initial effect, with the sub having shots blocked by Davies and Vertonghen, but going even closer (than his penalty of last season) with a drive on 78 minutes that bounced down off the bar and appeared to be handled as it was attempted to be smuggled into the net, but Spurs cleared it.  When he did get it into the net, it was chalked off for offside, which he was by some distance.  Just after that the ball was played across the Spurs box from left to right and Bolasie was unmarked with the goal at his mercy, but his drive was superbly pushed away by Lloris, when he should have had no chance to stop it.

Many in the crowd were calling for Aaron Lennon to come on, but were then lacking comprehension when Soldado was the man to make way.  It is all very well calling for someone to come on, but you have to remember and consider who is going to go off too.  As it was, there was little chance for the winger to get into the game, having only seven minutes left.

It looked like Spurs might have grabbed a late winner, with Paulinho hitting a shot at goal from Chadli's header back into the middle, but Ward got the ball away as it went goal-wards and in a frantic finish, Bolasie had a shot on goal blocked by Fazio and then Lloris fell on Puncheon's low drive from 18 yards out..

So, in the end was a draw a fair result ?  I don't think Palace would have thought so, but when you have that many chances and can't finish them off, it is perhaps easy to see where their problems lie.  As for Tottenham, we have the opposite problem, in that we are unable to break down teams who set up to make life difficult for us.  It is not a new problem and our last four managers before Poch have not found a key to unlocking that problem, other than Gareth Bale.

Now he has gone, there is no game-changer in the team of his quality.  That leaves Spurs trying to work the ball around defences, but without the movement and passing of the Everton game, Palace had an easier task.  Tottenham are not quite one-dimensional, but they have yet top take on fully what Poch is preaching and maybe then we will see a change in fortune.  Maybe it will take a change of personnel in January to speed this up, but massive change is not easy to integrate into a football team as we know from recent experience.

A point against Palace was better than nothing, although not what is expected if we are to push up the table.  Swansea away might be a better option for Spurs, as they play an open attacking game, so if we can get the closing down right, it might allow us to put pressure on them to turn over the ball and we can then set up breaks of our own.  Palace were not going to be amenable to that style of play and therefore, it was a game in which we rode our luck and came out with a point.  WHile others around us are also throwing points away, a bit of consistency might propel us up the table, but that needs to happen soon.

Thomas Dillon




Crystal Palace were named after the great invention of Issimbard Kingdam Brunei, who built the ultimate doll's house out of panes of glass to house the biggest dolls in the world down SE25 way.  Unfortunately, as it was a house and not a palace, he was required to tear it down by Trading Standards under the Trades Descriptions Act and a much more modest affair was constructed of real crystal at Dulwich.  This did not last long as the occupiers who lived in it were keen on throwing stones.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Hull City 0 West Bromwich Albion 0 Saturday
Liverpool 0 Sunderland 0 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Everton 0 Saturday
Newcastle United 2 Chelsea 1 Saturday
QPR 2 Burnley 0 Saturday
Stoke City 3 Arsenal 2 Saturday
Aston Villa 2 Leicester City 1 Sunday
West Ham United 3 Swansea City 1 Sunday
Southampton 1 Manchester United 2 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 15 11 3 1 34 13 36 +21
2 Manchester City 15 10 3 2 32 14 33 +18
3 Manchester United 15 8 4 3 26 17 28 +9
4 West Ham United 15 8 3 4 25 18 27 +7
5 Southampton 15 8 2 5 25 12 26 +13
6 Arsenal 15 6 5 4 24 18 23 +6
7 Newcastle United 15 6 5 4 17 18 23 -1
8 Swansea City 15 6 4 5 20 17 22 +3
9 Liverpool 15 6 3 6 19 19 21 0
10 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 6 3 6 18 21 21 -3
11 Aston Villa 15 5 4 6 10 19 19 -9
12 Everton 15 4 6 5 24 23 18 +1
13 Stoke City 15 5 3 7 17 20 18 -3
14 Sunderland 15 2 9 4 13 23 15 -10
15 Crystal Palace 15 3 5 7 18 23 14 -5
16 West Bromwich Albion 15 3 5 7 14 20 14 -6
17 QPR 15 4 2 9 16 27 14 -12
18 Hull City 15 2 7 6 15 22 13 -7
19 Burnley 15 2 6 7 10 24 12 -14
20 Leicester City 15 2 4 9 15 26 10 -11


Position before match :  10th
Position after match :  10th
Position after the weekend : 10th


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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