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Spurs v Crystal Palace, 06.12.14

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 6TH DECEMBER, 2014
(3pm)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0) CRYSTAL PALACE 0(0)

Attendance:- 35,860

Referee:- Lee Mason
Assistants:- S. Beck & A. Halliday
Fourth official:- P. Dowd

Teams:-
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies; Mason (sub Paulinho, 66), Bentaleb; Lamela (sub Chadli, 46), Kane, Eriksen; Soldado (sub Lennon, 83)

Subs not used:- Vorm; Rose, Kaboul; Stambouli

Booked:- Eriksen (foul on Chamakh)

Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1):- Speroni; Kelly, Dann, Hangeland, Ward; Jedinak(Capt.), Ledley; Zaha (sub Puncheon, 66), McArthur, Bolassie; Chamakh

Subs not used:- Hennessy; Bannan, Delaney, Thomas, Gayle, Campbell

No bookings

Lloris the Spurs hero yet again.

Not for the first time (there's an under-statement!), Spurs goalkeeper and Captain, Hugo Lloris will walk away with the Spurs man of the match award from the Spurs Odyssey voters. This will be deserved, because it was Lloris who was primarily responsible for his team at least holding out for a point against a so-called lesser team Crystal Palace. The most memorable of Lloris's saves was when he dived to the left to prevent Yannick Bolasie from scoring with less than 10 minutes left on the clock. Had Palace taken all three points, it would not have been an injustice.

Every team we play seems to have a game plan for Tottenham, and Neil Warnock's side were no different. Whilst the stats say we dominated possession, that was of no benefit, when the domination came in areas harmless to the defending side. Palace dominated us with regard to corners won, and free kicks awarded, especially in the early stages. They also succeeded in working our keeper, whereas Speroni, if he did have a shot to save, was comfortable. Spurs were wasteful with most of the chances they did manage to create.

I suppose the intention was to revert to the style of football played last week against Everton, but we never managed anything like the level of intensity seen last Sunday. Lamela was given the nod ahead of Lennon, and was placed at half-time because of his general failure to penetrate; to carry the ball, or to find the feet of his team-mates. I so want to see Lamela succeed, but today was not his day. Lennon didn't get on until the 83rd minute, which was far too late for many in the crowd who had been chanting his name early in the second half.

Spurs had the first chance of note after 6 minutes, when Ryan Mason switched the play from right to left with a great long pass, which was reached by Eriksen down the left flank. Eriksen cut inside and hit a shot into the side netting.

After one of Palace's early corners, James McArthur screwed his shot woefully wide. After a foul by Lamela outside the Spurs box, the Palace skipper Jedinak took the kick, which rebounded in his favour, allowing him a second nibble, which Lloris held.

After 19 minutes, Bolasie got inside Eriksen, and crossed for Joe Ledley, who fired over. The Palace fans (who always make plenty of noise anyway) were being inspired by their team.

Harry Kane hit a shot wide from the left of goal, after a decent move involving Lamela, Bentaleb and Soldado. Soon after that, Lamela successfully switched the play with along pass to Ben Davies, whose cross was pushed over by Soldado.

A Joe Ledley corner was met by the head of Scott Dann, and Lloris saved the day, with a dive to his left.

At the other end, Speroni did have to make a save from Eriksen's free kick, after Spurs' Danish midfielder had been fouled on the left. Soldado headed over another cross from the left, before he too managed to force Speroni into a save, after Dier had crossed Bentaleb's pass.

Soldado then met another Dier cross with a looping header, which passed harmlessly beyond the back post. Wilfred Zaha tried to beat Lloris with a curling shot, but it passed beyond the back post too,

Lamela was replaced by Chadli at the break, and offered another outlet. The trouble was that Palace closed us down very effectively, and marked the man on the ball very tightly, whereas Spurs so often allowed Palace the luxury of space and time. Palace looked like the team in a higher position for virtually all of the game.

Spurs's best chance yet fell to Soldado after 62 minutes. Eriksen had put him in with an astute pass on the outside of the defence, but Soldado hit his right foot shot outside the target, when a goal looked in the cards.

Warnock made his only change of the game, replacing Zaha with Puncheon, who was to be very impactive upon the game. At the same time, Ryan Mason was replaced by Paulinho, who I think is looking sharper in his last two or three games. However, the Brazilian has a lot of ground to cover to win back the favour of hard to please Spurs' fans.

It was Paulinho who started a good passing move, which involved several players, before Chadli teed up Kane, whose shot was well outside the target.

After 77 minutes, and following a Palace corner, Puncheon hit a rising shot from the inside left spot, which bounced out off the underside of Lloris's bar. Palace had the ball in the net in the following course of play, but the offside flag had been raised.

Puncheon was the provider for a great effort by Bolasie from the right of goal, which Lloris saved superbly, with a dive to his right. Now Puncheon gave Ledley an opening, but he fired wide.

After replacing Soldado, Aaron Lennon did inspire a couple of chances. Firstly, his ball to Kane led to a deep cross, which Chadli cut back for Paulinho. The Brazilian tried to place his shot inside the goalkeeper's left-hand post, but it was intercepted, and went out for a corner. Chadli himself had a shot deflected for another corner, from another Lennon pass, but Spurs were now out of ideas, and Eriksen actually got the only booking of the game, when he stopped former Arsenal striker Chamakh in his tracks on another Palace break.

Spurs have failed the test in not taking all three points from one of their "winnable" games, a term we always use loosely, of course. Swansea away next Sunday looks a tough proposition, especially after a trip to Istanbul, to try and take a point off Besiktas.

Personally, I am quite fed up with formulaic football by Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs, who are so predictable, and often too ponderous. Things must change!

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