SUNDAY 5th NOVEMBER, 2017
(12 noon - at Wembley Stadium)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) CRYSTAL PALACE 0(0)
Referee:- Kevin Friend
Assistants:- Simon Long & Adrian Holmes
Fourth official:- Mike Jones
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Gazzaniga; Sanchez, Dier, Vertonghen; Aurier, Winks (sub Dembele, 46), Eriksen, Rose (sub Davies, 90+2); Sissoko, Son; Kane (sub Llorente, 77)
(Armband to Vertonghen)
Subs not used:- Whiteman; Trippier, Foyth; Nkoudou
Crystal Palace (3-4-1-2):- Speroni; Fosu-Mensah, Dann (Capt.), Sakho; Ward (sub Sako, 76), Loftus-Cheek, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Cabaye; Townsend, Zaha
Subs not used:- Hennessy; Tomkins, Soare,; McArthur, Puncheon, Riedewald
Booked:- Townsend (foul on Sissoko), Schlupp (foul on Aurier)
Son scores winner, but Gazzaniga saves the day.
It was very much a case of "after the Lord Mayor's show" for Spurs today. We knew that we would be missing Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld after they sustained injuries on Wednesday night against Real Madrid. Rumours surfaced a couple of hours before the game that Dele Alli had a hamstring injury, and when confirmed that was a third key player missing. Then we found that Michel Vorm had also suffered an injury, so number three keeper Paulo Gazzaniga had to make his debut. Mauricio Pochettino chose to rotate his full backs, although Ben Davies also suffered a knock on Wednesday. The bottom line was that the team fielded by Spurs was drastically changed, and arguably four or five key players short.
Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace matched the Spurs formation getting men behind the ball when necessary, but also having dangerous pace in the shape primarily of Wilfried Zaha to threaten Spurs on the counter. As a team, Spurs looked jaded to say the least, understandably after that marvellous Champions League win. It's a good job that the stalwart back three of Sanchez, Dier and Vertonghen were in fine form.
The fact is that Spurs did secure all three points, but they were made to fight hard for them. I was a little worried about Gazzaniga in the early stages, but he certainly grew into the game, and had to make several key saves.
As for Son, he might have scored the winner, and it was an excellent finish from the edge of the area, but he failed dismally with two further chances, when he had the goal and the veteran Speroni in the Palace goal at his mercy.
At right back, Serge Aurier is looking more and more like a loose cannon in more ways than one. He has already suffered on-field disciplinary measures in his short Spurs career. Today, it could be said he played as well for Palace as he did for Spurs, laying on two great passes for he visitors both of which nearly led to goals. Danny Rose was quite potent in attack, but he doesn't seem to have his full pace yet, and sometimes struggled against those Palace counter attacks.
After only two minutes, Palace had a free kick on the left outside the area, floated in by Zaha. Mamadou Sakho tried to reach the ball for a header and went down injured. This was the point at which I detected uncertainty in Gazzaniga.
Spurs did gradually gain a foothold in the game, and Harry Winks was prominent in their forward moves. Jan Vertonghen fed a nice ball to Harry Kane who was down the left channel. Harry turned inside and hit a decent right footed shot which was on target, but held comfortably by Speroni. That was almost the only save the visiting keeper had to make in the first half, whereas Gazzaniga would be busier.
There was excitement as Son raced away down the left, but his cross came to nothing, as did a lot of his efforts.
Referee Kevin Friend allowed a tough tackle by Winks in the middle and Eriksen took the ball on, hitting a right footed shot wide across goal.
Both Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier were required to demonstrate strong defensive skills against the danger of Zaha.
Harry Winks needed treatment and perhaps never fully recovered as he was replaced by Dembele at half-time. England manager Gareth Southgate must be having kittens over the potential loss of some of his Tottenham personnel. Harry Kane was caught by Fosu-Mensah, and he too ultimately went off relatively early, to be replaced by Llorente.
A nice deep cross by Aurier reached Danny Rose beyond the back post. Rose hit a powerful header, but far too wide of the target. Rose was on the end of a nice Spurs move down the left with Dier and Vertonghen in the build-up. Rose crossed, and the ball was half-cleared to Kane, whose attempted header was blocked, then a shot went too high.
Palace won a corner taken by Cabaye. Scott Dann's header had the defence beaten, but not Gazzaniga, who came off his line a little and dived to his left to save.
A Vertonghen shot took a heavy deflection and worried Speroni, but the keeper was able to pick up. Eriksen fed Son on the left, but his shot was wide by a mile.
Former Spur Andros Townsend got the first yellow card of the game, when stopping Moussa Sissoko in his tracks, and taking one of his boots off as well!
Two minutes after the break, a terrible ball by Aurier went to Townsend, who raced forward on the left side, hitting a shot which Gazzaniga saved well, pushing the ball out to his left for a corner.
Spurs responded with good pressure, winning successive corners but with no end result. Schlupp was booked for a foul on Aurier and Eriksen took the kick. Son tried to reach the ball, but it passed over him to Speroni, who punched clear.
Now Aurier was guilty again of another shocking pass, given again to Townsend, who sent Zaha away. Zaha probably should have scored, but he fired wide across an open goalmouth with Gazzaniga having come out to meet him.
More pressure by Palace followed, urged on by their always vocal support. Townsend had a shot blocked, and after a corner Milivojevic's header was beaten out by the Spurs keeper.
Spurs relieved the pressure. Firstly with Eriksen and Son feeding the ball to Rose in the left, whose low cross passed all the way across goal. Then came the breakthrough! Harry Kane passed out to Rose on the left. Rose's shot was bloced and reached Sissoko beyond the back post. Sissoko's ball in was cleared as far as Son lurking on the edge of the area. Son hit a truly inspirational left foot shot which beat Speroni inside his right post. On such occasions Son is a star, but two much simpler opportunities (and failures) were to follow.
The game opened up now, with Palace desperate to get on terms. They gave Spurs plenty to think about too!
Harry Kane was replaced, and his captain's armband was initially handed to Eric Dier, but then worn by Jan Vertonghen.
Son was presented with not one, but two golden opportunities to add to his tally. The first of these he hit into the side netting with the goal at his mercy. The second he seemed to hit in the wrong direction, but did win a corner. A corner taken by Eriksen was headed wide by Sanchez.
Spurs had to see out three minutes of added time and were made to work very hard for this win. The win does keep Spurs in third place, one point above Chelsea, who beat Man Utd today. We are therefore level with United on points, with an inferior goal difference. One piece of good news is that Arsenal lost, but the bad news is that it was leaders Man City who beat them to maintain their 8 point domination of the Premier League.
This International break comes at a welcome time for Spurs, with injured players to nurse to fitness, hopefully ready for the North London Derby in two weeks' time.
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