Tottenham take on Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane on Saturday in the reverse fixture from the Opening. On that occasion, Spurs grabbed a narrow 1-0 victory thanks to a Soldado penalty after a contentious handball incident. It was a winning start for Andre Villas Boas and they went onto win their next two games, but since then things have changed dramatically. With Tim Sherwood now in charge, they are now unbeaten in their last four games in the league, with impressive away wins at both Southampton and Man United. However, their home form hasn’t been great so far,having only won four of their ten home games this season, losing three and drawing three. Spurs did however manage to win 3-0 against Stoke City in their home game and will hope for similar fortunes against The Eagles to keep up their top four hopes.
Both teams will have different managers than on the opening day and Crystal Palace will be reasonably pleased of their progress under their new manager Tony Pulis. Having been written off as relegation certainties a month or two ago, they have pieced together a decent run which has helped them to 18th and only one point behind Cardiff who are just outside the relegation places. Incredibly, the bottom eight teams are separated by just seven points which makes any result for these sides vital in the push to retain their Premier League status, Crystal Palace being no different. Having won against Aston Villa and then given Manchester City arguably one of their biggest tests at home so far, The Eagles away results have been encouraging of late and will hope for similar performance this time round.
Spurs have up to 12 players who are on the sidelines or are doubts for this game which shows why they have been forced to look to their less experienced players to fill the void in recent weeks. Paulinho (foot), Naughton (hamstring) and Sigurdsson (calf) are definitely not available to play whilst defensive duo Kaboul (thigh) and Vertonghen (foot) are close to making returns but again will not make it in time for this contest. Defoe is also a doubt with a hamstring injury, amidst speculation that he could be on his way to the MLS with a transfer to Toronto FC on the cards. Lamela and Holtby are back to full training, with both men scoring in a friendly game in midweek and may see themselves on the bench for the game. Townsend is also likely to start on the bench having recovered from a hamstring injury. Sandro and Soldado have shaken off their knocks and are likely to be fit for the game, with Capoue and Chadli on standby.
The Eagles do not have near as many injury problems to worry about with Guedioura and Murray nearing full fitness and should be available soon. Thomas and Hunt are long term absentees but apart from that, Pulis has a fully fit squad. Chances are that Pulis will start his team with one striker, likely to be Chamakh with Jerome on standby if needed.
- Spurs have won three of the nine meeting between the sides in the league, with Palace winning two and both teams playing out four draws.
- Jermain Defoe was part of the Spurs side which last played Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, a game in which scored but ended in a 1-1 draw.
- Both teams have a poor conversion rate with Crystal Palace’s shot conversion rate at 8% while Tottenham have a shot conversion rate of just 10%.
- Both sides combined this season have scored 37 goals, less than any of the top four teams in the Premier league at the moment.
Spurs: Emmanuel Adebayor
The 6 ft 3’ Togo international has been in fine form Tottenham since his return to the first team, managing 3 goals in 5 appearances with a very clinical shot conversion rate of 38%. Adebayor has been a good luck a good luck charm so far this season. In the five league matches he has been involved in this season, he is yet to be on the losing side. He has also done well in a creative sense this season, creating eight chances and managing an assist as well. We all know about the aerial threat that Adebayor posses and it was on show again with a clinical header in the win against Man United. If players like Lennon and Eriksen are able to provide quality crosses into the box, Adebayor will be a menace for the Palace defenders. Since Adebayor’s re-introduction into the squad after the heavy Liverpool defeat, his partnership with Soldado has flourished and will again look to combine well up front.
Crystal Palace: Marouane Chamakh
Although Chamakh hasn’t been in blistering form for Palace this season, he has certainly been clinical with chances that have fell to him, scoring four goals of his nine shots at goal, giving him an impressive conversion rate of 44%. The problem is that he has only had 9 shots in 19 appearances, averaging a shot every 153 minutes and averaging a shot on target every 276 minutes, which is simply not good enough at this level. Although he hasn’t just been influential goal scoring wise, he has been a team player throughout the campaign and has been created 19 chances so far. Just like Adebayor, Chamakh could prove to be an aerial threat as five of his attempts at goal have been headers. Chamakh will have to work very hard for the team in this match, and with his chances on goal likely to be few and far between, he will have to be very clinical to find himself on the score sheet.
Spurs home form isn’t one to be desired for a team who is pushing for a Champions League place and Crystal Palace will go to White Hart Lane without any fear and I feel if they can produce a dogged performance, they will be able to return to London with a positive result.