We are in for a feisty London derby when the North meets South at White Hart Lane in an FA Cup fifth round encounter on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur have punched way above their weight this season, with Pochettino already one of the stronger contenders for the end of the year manager of the season award – for the impressive work he’s done in a fairly short time at the North London club. Their last outing came on Thursday, in Italy, which ended in a well-earned 1-1 draw in the the Europa League and their domestic form in general has been quite remarkable with only 3 losses so far in 26 games. Spurs are well in the running for three competitions and that includes the Premier League, so it will be fascinating to see what kind of a team the Argentine would field on Sunday.
What promised to be a great season for Crystal Palace has quite faded away a bit with Pardew’s Eagles – enduring a few difficult-to-digest results in the league, especially post Christmas. After a 6 game unbeaten run right in the middle of the season when things looked a lot more rosy, Palace have gone on to lose 5 of their next 6 games and look unsettled – partly due to key injuries to the squad. Having boosted by the signing of ex-Spurs and Arsenal man Emmanuel Adebayor who has already opened his account for Pardew’s side, it will be interesting to see if some of the returning players can fire their side to a stunning win at their rivals’ own backyard.
Tottenham Hotspur won their most recent meeting 1-3 in the Premier League which also featured a memorable goal from Spurs youngster Delle Alli, a flick and turn followed by a sweet half-volley to find the bottom corner.
For Tottenham, goalkeeper and one of the key men in the squad, Hugo Lloris misses out with a shoulder injury. Midfielder Tom Carroll faces 10 days out after suffering a cut on his Achilles.
Alan Pardew should be relieved to see Yannick Bolasie fit and ready to make his first appearance of 2016 after recovering from a hip injury, while Bakary Sako has also recovered after a month sidelined with a hamstring problem. Dwight Gayle and Joe Ledley could also make their comebacks from hamstring and thigh injuries respectively.
7: In five FA Cup meetings between Tottenham and Crystal Palace, Spurs failed to score in any of the first three encounters, but have netted a total of seven in their last two encounters.
4: Palace have won four of their last five FA Cup matches away from home.
Key Men Comparison
Toby Alderweireld v Mile Jedinak
“The outcome could be decided by one of the sides’ great defenders” said a quirky Alan Pardew in his pre-match presser. He cannot be more right as some of Spurs’ best performances in this campaign have been anchored by equally solid displays at the back and Toby Alderweireld has been central to many of those. His composure and robustness and the ability to launch an attack on his own hen needed has given Spurs an indomitable weapon to play with, that most sides don’t possess in the country and he could be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of Sunday’s encounter.
Jedinak, being the leader that he is, is one of the most important players for Alan Pardew both on and off the pitch. His work ethic in them middle of the park is matched by very few in the Premier League and not overstating it but he will have an uphill task on Sunday to contain a dynamic and in-form Tottenham Hotspur midfield and that could be pivotal to Palace’s chances of derailing the favorites.
Spurs are on a roll this season, being arguably, the most consistent team in England. I’d expect them to see off a resolute challenge from Crystal Palace.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Crystal Palace