Match Preview – Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur
Second-placed Tottenham Hotspur travel to Selhurst Park to face the in-form Crystal Palace, in what is a crucial encounter in the Barclays Premier League. While Spurs are aiming to catch Chelsea, who are 4 points ahead in the table, Palace will be trying to do another giant killing, after managing to beat Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks.
The Eagles are on an extraordinary run considering the way their season has gone. They have won 6 of their last 7 games in the league, and have beaten Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool along the way. Their remarkable turnaround in form has seen them pull away from relegation scramble and move up the table. They will look to continue their impressive run and finish the season as high as possible, with a top-half finish not seeming impossible at this stage.
Ninth placed Southampton and 15th placed Leicester are separated by just 3 points and this shows how tight it is in the mid table. Palace will be hoping to take advantage of this.
On the other hand, Tottenham’s previous league win against Bournemouth saw them close the gap on Chelsea to 4 points from 7. Chelsea then lost their league game next day against Manchester United, thus losing their 7 point lead at the top. The momentum was with Tottenham when they entered the FA Cup semifinal clash against Chelsea, but a cup game being a cup game, did not offer too much importance to form, and ended in the Blues’ favour, as they won a high quality football match by a 4-2 margin, courtesy of Willian, Hazard and Matic.
Spurs would be disappointed with the loss but they cannot let it hamper their extraordinary form in the league competition, as they are on a 7-game winning streak. A win against Crystal Palace would make it 8 and they will be raring to go out there and do it.
This game would surely serve as a test of character for Tottenham, just like the clash against Chelsea did last season. This time though, Spurs are well positioned to deal with the pressure and bottling their chance to put some real pressure on Chelsea would go a long way in denting their confidence on the longer run.
Sam Allardyce will be happy to welcome Mamadou Sakho back after the defender missed the game against his parent club Liverpool. He will possibly replace Martin Kelly in the side when he comes back on Wednesday. Connor Wickham, Scott Dann, and Pape Souare remain sidelined with injuries, while Lois Remy is not yet match fit. Allardyce has hinted at rotation to cope with the tight run-in to the business end of the season, but with the weight of the game being a huge one, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Allardyce go in with a team similar to that of the one which beat Liverpool.
Ben Davies is back for Tottenham and this should be a huge relief for Pochettino, considering that Danny Rose has only just returned from his long-term injury. Erik Lamela, Michel Vorm, and Harry Winks remain unavailable for Spurs.
Crystal Palace – Hennessey; Ward, Sakho, Tomkins, Schlupp; Milivojevic; Zaha, Cabaye, Puncheon, Townsend; Benteke.
Tottenham – Lloris; Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Walker, Dembele, Wanyama, Davies; Eriksen, Alli; Kane.
- Crystal Palace have lost each of their last three league games against Tottenham; they haven’t lost four successive games since their first five encounters with Spurs in the top-flight (Aug 1969 – Sept 1971).
- After failing to score in his first three Premier League appearances in 2016-17, Harry Kane has scored 20 goals in 21 matches in the competition for Spurs and converted 29% of his total shots.
- After failing to win 11 successive top-flight London derbies (D2 L9), Crystal Palace have won their last two – they’ve never won three successive London derbies in the Premier League.
- Tottenham haven’t won an away top-flight London derby since their last visit to Selhurst Park in January 2016, failing to win each of the last four trips in London (D2 L2).
- Harry Kane has scored 18 goals in 24 London derbies in the Premier League – the Spurs striker has the best goals per game ratio in history in such derbies (0.75 goals per game) of players to play in five or more.
- After losing his first three home matches in charge, Sam Allardyce is unbeaten in his last four at Selhurst Park (W3 D1), with the Eagles keeping a clean sheet in each of those victories.
- Mauricio Pochettino has seen his Tottenham side win seven successive league games in a run starting two months before the date of this match (February 26th). This is his best-ever winning run as a manager in league competition.
- Tottenham have won consecutive away Premier League games for the third time this season, but haven’t managed to win three in a row since February 2016.
Given the current run of form, it would be fair to fancy both the teams’ chances of a win. While Palace have been on a surprising run, Tottenham have been consistent since the turn of the year.