Tottenham have been talked up as title contenders following their recent good results against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. To take seven points from those three matches without conceding a goal is incredible and serves a reminder of the value that Jose Mourinho brings to a club. They football hasn’t been great at times, but there is a clear buy-in from the players and that means that this form could be sustainable. On Sunday, they will need to be more authoritative in possession, as Crystal Palace will look to play Spurs at their own game. If Mourinho is to lead an unlikely title challenge, they need to show an ability to change gears in matches such as this one.
Crystal Palace have been inconsistent this season, but they will be determined to show their quality against one of the best teams in the division. Their early season win over Manchester United will give them belief that they can spring another surprise this weekend. They come into the fixture with belief following a dominant performance against West Brom, in which they scored five times. Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha give them a chance of winning any fixture. They will be the two players for Tottenham to concentrate on in their preparations.
It is important that Tottenham win this match ahead of their match against Liverpool during the week. Mourinho will know that if they are to challenge for the title, they need to be top of the table when they face Jurgen Klopp’s team. It shifts the pressure on to the current champions and allows Spurs to sit deep on Wednesday night. Supporters won’t be getting carried away about a title challenge yet, as they are only four points clear of 5th. The focus needs to be on securing a Champions League return. Regardless of the overall aim, this is a fixture they need to be winning.
Wilfried Zaha has scored seven goals in his last nine Premier League matches. His previous seven goals in the competitions came across 49 matches.
Harry Kane has assisted ten times in his first 11 Premier League appearances of the season. No player has reached this mark quicker.
This could be Zaha’s best ever season in the Premier League, suggesting that he is reaching the peak of his career. He faced criticism for his contributions last season following the breakdown of a move away, but he now seems to realise that the best way to attract interest is to perform on the pitch. The attacker has contributed seven goals and two assists in the Premier League this season, with a goal contribution every 114.4 minutes. In a team that is known for being well organised and playing on the counter attack, that is an excellent record. During his last five Premier League appearances, he has only failed to register a goal or an assist once. That was against Wolves towards the end of October. It is scary to think how impressive his numbers could be if he hadn’t missed a period due to Covid-19. Tottenham have the best defensive record in the Premier League this season. It won’t be easy for Zaha to have an influence on the match, but Spurs will know that he is the opposition player that they need to prepare for.
Like Zaha, Son is having a career defining season. Tottenham set up to play on the counter attack in a lot of matches and there isn’t a huge volume of chances created for their attacking players. This is why Son provides so much value to the team. His finishing has been next level this year, as shown by his incredible strike against Arsenal. The South Korean has scored ten times from 21 shots, with a conversion rate just below 50%. This is an incredible run of form and some will suggest it is unsustainable. That may be true, but currently, there is a belief that he can score in nearly every match that he plays in. Palace will look to play Tottenham at their own game and set up deep. That could encourage the visitors to shoot from range. In Son, they have a player that can be very dangerous from distance and he will be told to shoot every time he gets the chance by Mourinho.
Tyrick Mitchell will be unavailable for the home side as he has contracted a cold. Nathan Ferguson, Connor Wickham and Wayne Hennessey remain long term absentees.
Serge Aurier is a doubt for the visitors, which could lead to a Premier League recall for Matt Doherty. Erik Lamela won’t be available for Tottenham as he suffers from a foot injury. Gareth Bale remains unlikely to start as he continues to build up his fitness.
This is going to be a very tight match, with goals unlikely to come in great volume. Tottenham have struggled against Burnley and West Brom in recent weeks. On both occasions, they managed to prevail with a narrow 1-0 victory, but they will be facing a better team on Sunday. This could provide the surprise of the weekend, as Palace have regularly been able to spring shock results. The return of supporters could play a part in motivating the team. This could be when Spurs come unstuck.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Tottenham