EPL: Tottenham v Crystal Palace Preview

Our writer assesses the London derby encounter between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace taking place on Saturday afternoon. 

One of the less extravagant London derbies, this game represents Spurs’ opportunity to get some momentum into their campaign. They will be formidable if they play with anything near the intensity that they offered in that second half performance against Everton. Palace suffered a morale-draining home loss to West Brom and have since been embroiled in an ongoing transfer saga revolving around Liverpool’s beleaguered Christian Benteke.

This will be an intriguing cat and mouse fixture. Spurs will clearly look to dominate possession, but this tactic may play into the hands of a Palace side built for the counterattacking football.

Tottenham v Crystal Palace | Saturday 20 August | White Hart Lane | 16:00

To Win (90 Minutes)
Tottenham 9/20 | Draw 34/10 | Crystal Palace 6/1

Spurs know that they will need a positive start to the season if they wish to contend again. Champions League participation is going to take a toll on a side yet to deal with the vagaries of dual European-domestic commitments. Pochettino will no doubt wrestle with the idea of giving Vincent Jannsen a starting berth following his impact off the bench, but I expect that he will ultimately opt for the side that lit up White Hart Lane last season. Rose and Walker were strangely subdued last week and will need to be more progressive against a Palace side with the likes of Zaha and Puncheon operating in the wide areas. Lloris’ injury last weekend will see Vorm continuing to deputize between the sticks.

Spurs should have the ascendancy in midfield. Palace are somewhat depleted by both injury and departures - which should prove as incentive for Wanyama to burst through the middle of the park. The former Southampton man was kept under wraps last weekend and will likely have far more freedom. Alli should also be able to find more space while Lamella will fancy his chance against Pape Souare. I suspect that Kane may have a similarly subdued performance here. Dann and Delaney are very much prototypical, no-nonsense centre-halves who will have him tightly marked at set plays. They won’t be easily fooled into drifting to those uncomfortable wide spaces where Kane successfully engages with centre-halves.

Crystal Palace
The loss of Yannick Bolasie to Everton is a major blow to the club. The industrious midfielder was very much emblematic of the energetic ethos of the club. The fact that they have also let Jedinak go to Villa- coupled with injuries to McArthur and Sako - leave the side slightly vulnerable in the heart of midfield.  Cabaye will look to control the area while Lee will potentially step up to the plate and contain the likes of Alli and Wanyama. Wickham will play up front with the Benteke deal yet to be finalised. Pardew will be hoping that he can complete the swoop for the Belgian international whom I believe will fit this club like the proverbial glove.

Palace know that another key area of the game will be out wide. Rose and Walker really are the two that bring the team to life. If the likes of Townsend and Zaha are able to exploit the vacated space and threaten Dier as he drops back to assist the centre-halves, Pochettino may be forced to pull the reins in somewhat on the pair. This is why I believe Palace will find some joy this coming weekend, despite some misgivings I have of their midfield area.

Verdict: Crystal Palace Win/Draw (33/20) 
I really think that Spurs are vulnerable to a swift counterattacking team such as Palace.  Palace are also perennially more impressive on their travels and will know that Spurs are under huge pressure to replicate the success of last season. I expect Palace to actually defy expectations and get at least a point this weekend.  

Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets

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