Tottenham travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Sunday in a London derby. The two teams have differing objectives for the rest of the season. The home side will be desperate to stay in the Premier League, but a recent injury crisis has made that task a lot more difficult. Meanwhile, Spurs want to finish in the top four for the third successive season. They have come a long way under Mauricio Pochettino and it would be viewed as a failure if they didn’t qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Roy Hodgson has done a great job with Crystal Palace so far. He was seen as an underwhelming appointment by the club after the sacking of Frank de Boer. The former England boss had been out of the game since that dreadful day against Iceland and Palace were cut adrift at the bottom of the division without a single point or goal to their name. The task appeared impossible, but his experience coupled with the talent available to him has seen the club rise up the league table. They won’t be expecting to take anything from the match against Tottenham. However, they certainly have the ability to secure a positive result.
Tottenham have had a mixed fortnight since they last played a match in the Premier League. They showed incredible spirit and ability to earn a credible 2-2 away draw against Juventus in the Champions League after conceding two early goals. Most teams would have folded, but Spurs went on to dominate the game and looked the most likely winners by the end of the contest. However, they followed that up with a disappointing draw to Rochdale in the FA Cup. Although they made several changes, they should have had enough to advance and the extra fixture won’t help them.
The home side have a lengthy injury list and that is why they go into this weekend as huge outsiders. They will be without Joel Ward, Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Kelly, Bakary Sako, Jeff Schlupp, Jason Puncheon, Scott Dann, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Connor Wickham.
Toby Alderweireld has picked up a thigh knock as he steps up his recovery. He may not be risked this weekend as a result. The rest of the squad are fit and able to play. Lucas Moura impressed in the FA Cup and will be pushing to make his Premier League debut.
Crystal Palace haven’t won in their last four Premier League matches and that has seen them drop to 15th position, only one point above the relegation zone.
Tottenham have scored in every match that have played in since their 2-0 defeat against Arsenal in November.
Crystal Palace are going to have to compete in the midfield areas if they are to stand a chance of getting something from the match against Tottenham. Mousa Dembele has been in inspired form during recent weeks, while Victor Wanyama could return to the starting eleven this weekend. Palace’s best midfielder is Luka Milivojevic and he has taken his game to a new level since the appointment of Roy Hodgson. The Serbian international was brought to the club by Sam Allardyce and he could be looked back on as one of the greatest signings ever made by Palace if he continues to perform to a high level. He is currently averaging 1.55 successful tackles and 1.98 interceptions per ninety minutes. In addition to his battling qualities, he is a leader on the pitch and capable of chipping in with a few goals. His tally stands at seven for the season, albeit the majority have come from the penalty spot.
Every time Tottenham play without Christian Eriksen, they look less creative and their results are often underwhelming. The Danish international missed the trip to Rochdale, as he was rested by Pochettino and the team’s attack became less fluid and more predictable. They will welcome the midfielder back into the team for this weekend and he will hold the key to unlocking a determined Palace defence. He has been an influential figure this season, averaging 2.59 shots and 2.71 chances created per ninety minutes. In terms of his attacking contribution, he has got seven goals and six assists in the Premier League. The 26-year-old will be looking to break the ten-mark for both during the closing stages of the season and consolidate his position as one of the best in the league.
The task looks daunting for Crystal Palace as they are without several of their best players. They still have talent in their ranks in Milovojevic, Yohan Cabaye, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke. However, they will be playing several squad players against Tottenham and the away side are likely going to have too much as a result. They have a great chance of moving into the top four as Chelsea and Manchester United play each other on Sunday. It is important that they take care of their own business and heap the pressure on their rivals. They should do that at Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace 0-2 Tottenham