Tottenham face a difficult trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday. The visitors will be attempting to build the pressure on the teams above them and prove that they can challenge for the title. It won’t be an easy game as the Eagles are a good team and have players that can cause Spurs problems.
Palace managed to earn a credible point against Arsenal last month and that will give them confidence ahead of this weekend. On that day, they scored twice from the penalty spot as they registered their first goals at Selhurst Park this season. Their lack of quality from open play remains a concern, but they seem to raise their games against the better teams. This will provide another good indicator of where this team is at.
Mauricio Pochettino has done a tremendous job since taking over at Tottenham. However, the time is approaching for the club to challenge for major honours and he won’t be ruling his players out of the title race just yet. They are currently five points off of top spot and they can’t afford to drop points against the lesser teams many more times. They managed to win in the Champions League, but their performance was far from convincing. A much better display will be expected here.
Crystal Palace have taken only five points from their last ten Premier League matches. They could find themselves in another relegation battle if their fortunes don’t improve.
Harry Kane had scored 27 goals in his last 27 away Premier League matches.
There is only one player that Tottenham will be worried about on Saturday and that is Wilfried Zaha. The attacker has developed into one of the best players outside of the top-six during recent seasons and it is a surprise that he remains at Selhurst Park. There would be two or three top six teams that would be interested in making a move for the talented front-man. In fact, Spurs would be one of them. This is a huge opportunity for the Palace forward to impress, as he is coming up against one of the best teams in the league. He usually does well against the big teams and had a decisive impact against Arsenal two weeks ago, as he earned the penalty that led to the equaliser. Although Spurs have been winning games, their defence has been far from formidable and Zaha will be looking to exploit that on Saturday.
Christian Eriksen was effective for Tottenham against PSV Eindhoven. The Dane will be hoping that it was the performance to kick-start his season. It has been a difficult couple of months for the midfielder, as he has been struggling with injuries and found himself playing a number of different roles in the team as Pochettino tried to find the right formation. During the victory in midweek, the 26-year-old made three key passes and caused problems with his set-piece delivery. Although he was used in a deeper role, he managed to have a big influence on the game and that is encouraging for Tottenham, as Eriksen playing further back will help facilitate others into the team. Crystal Palace won’t look to contain the visitors, which means that there will be space for Spurs’ playmaker in central areas. If he has a good game, an away victory is the most likely result. Palace need to shut him down if they are to stop the visitors from dominating proceedings.
Crystal Palace have no new injury concerns ahead of this weekend. Christian Benteke and Scott Dann remain on the sidelines. Andros Townsend will be hoping to continue his good form with another good performance on Saturday.
Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama both returned to training, with the possibility of a return this weekend. Tottenham’s injury crisis is easing ahead of the Christmas period and that will please Pochettino. Erik Lamela will be pushing for a start after missing out during the week against PSV. However, Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen will all miss out.
This is going to be an interesting test for both teams. Crystal Palace haven’t managed to show the same quality that they did under Roy Hodgson last season. This could provide them with a chance to return to that level of performance. At Selhurst Park, they will fancy their chances against any team. Meanwhile, Tottenham have picked up some good results this season, but there is more to come from them. An away win looks to be the best bet, but it could be a close one.