Rating the Tottenham Hotspur Players in Week 1 Victory Against Crystal Palace

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIAugust 18, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18:  Roberto Soldado of Tottenham Hotspur (C) celebrates scoring from the penalty spot with team mates Aaron Lennon, Kyle Walker, Paulinho and Gylfi Sigurdsson during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on Augsut 18, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur earned a narrow but deserved 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in their opening game of the season thanks to a penalty from Roberto Soldado.

Playing in front of a very strong Selhurst Park crowd, the Eagles offered great resistance to Spurs' attack throughout the first half with few chances falling the way of the visitors. Gylfi Sigurdsson saw the best chance after his strong shot from outside the box, but Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni was able to clear—something that he couldn't do when Soldado stepped up to take his penalty in the second half, however.

Spurs continued to press throughout the second half as the game opened up and could have had more goals to their name through Sigurdsson and Jermain Defoe, but they simply couldn't connect on the final ball and were forced to hang on to a dramatic 1-0 finish at the end.

Still, the three points were all that the North Londoners needed here, and they got them. Let's see how their players performed in the victory.

Hugo Lloris (GK): A

Lloris wasn't called into action a great deal throughout the match, but when he was, he certainly made his presence count. The French international made a stunning sliding tackle to deny Palace's attack early into the second half and made two stellar saves within seconds of each other to deny the Eagles a last-gasp equalizer—something that he made look remarkably easy.

It's hard to see Lloris losing his No. 1 spot to Brad Friedel any time in the near future, and rightly so. Much like season, Lloris showed why he's one of the best in the league.

Danny Rose (LB): B-

A mixed bag for Rose throughout this one, with the defender showing excellent skill to get down the left flank and in link up with Nacer Chadli ahead of him. However, those attacking raids were often coupled by some poor defensive play and needless fouls, which might have hurt Spurs a little more on another day.

He did make a tremendous last-man tackle on Dwight Gayle late in the piece to ensure that the striker wouldn't have a chance to grab Palace an equalizer, though.

Jan Vertonghen (LCB): B-

Vertonghen was strong in the air throughout the match and did a relatively solid job of holding out the likes of Gayle in the middle, but he struggled toward the end.

When asked to play on the left, the Belgian was really limited in his movement and allowed the likes of Marouane Chamakh far too much space to move. Maybe it was that niggling injury flaring up again, but either way, it wasn't the greatest finish to the match for Vertonghen.

Still a sound performance overall, though.

Michael Dawson (RCB): B

Michael Dawson was sound without being inspiring.

The defender completed a stellar 51 of his 61 attempted passes and won eight of his nine attempted headers, but he didn't offer the same presence in central defense as is expected of him. He struggled to turn the ball over against Gayle and later Philips, and was very nearly caught out by the latter when he made an exceptionally-timed run in behind the North Londoners' defense.

Nevertheless, all eight of his clearances were effective, and Tottenham finished with a clean sheet—which was all that could really be asked of the central defender.

Kyle Walker (RB): A-

Walker was a dynamic presence on the right flank, with his movement and timing causing real havoc for the left side of Crystal Palace's side defense. What he wasn't, however, was effective, with far too may of his passes and crosses snuffed out by Palace's roving midfielders.

Still, the right-back completed a very strong 86 percent of his attempted passes and was successful in all but one of his attempted take-ons. It's hard to fault that too much.

Nacer Chadli (LW): B

With so much of Tottenham's attack taking place down the right flank, Chadli was probably the quietest of Tottenham's attackers against Crystal Palace early on.

However, that quickly changed in the second half.

Paulinho started to drift more away from the right flank and toward Chadli, where the pair started to develop a great combination. Chadli started to cut in from the left and drift centrally—akin to another famous Welsh winger that Spurs' fans know well—and while he didn't bring his shooting boots on the day, the signs were certainly promising for Andre Villas-Boas' summer signing.

Moussa Dembele (DCM): C+

Perhaps a harsh grading for Dembele, but the central midfielder was never quite able to exert the great running and driving game that he is so strong at in midfield.

Palace clogged up the midfield heavily, with their forwards and attacking midfielders doing a lot of defensive work, and that took a lot of the space away from the bustling Belgian. Yet even without a whole lot of space, Dembele was able to show his fine skills—completing a staggering 97 percent of his attempted passes and flicking the crossbar with his effort from 25 yards out.

Dembele struggled to really have an impact after the opening 30 minutes and was perhaps rightly substituted for Etienne Capoue just under the hour mark.

Not that it was his fault, per se; Palace just congested the midfield too much.

Gylfi Sigurdsson (CM): C

While Dembele struggled for space, Sigurdsson was allowed much more room to roam and create in Spurs' attack, and he proved to be a vital cog in their early attack.

However, the finishing just wasn't there from Sigurdsson.

The Iceland international had his best shot of the day saved after half an hour of play, and then he wasted a key chance provided by Soldado deep into the second half that would have put the result beyond all doubt. He completed just two of his eight attempted crosses and found the target on just one of his eight corners, which wasn't the production that Tottenham really needed from out wide.

Aaron Lennon (RW): B-

Either Aaron Lennon was really strong or Palace were really weak down the left. Actually, reflecting on the game, it was probably a little bit of both of those statements.

Time and time again Lennon got himself into good attacking opportunities down the right wing, but he just couldn't quite deliver that final pass. Mile Jedinak continued to cut him off over the top when he cut to the by-line, and when he cut in, he couldn't connect with his floated crosses.

Paulinho (CAM): B+

Paulinho only touched the ball 52 times despite Tottenham dominating possession against Crystal Palace, and yet the central attacker finished as one of the best players on the pitch.

His movement off the ball was superb in linking the likes of Soldado, Chadli and Dembele together, and while he didn't quite get the space that he's likely to find easier in a less-packed midfield, he was still very solid indeed.

Paulinho should be Tottenham's permanent No. 10 this season.

Roberto Soldado (ST): A

Could it have been a greater Premier League debut for Soldado?

Well, he could have scored a hat-trick, but he'll certainly take the lone goal (and eventual game-winner), with a very impressive performance for the North London club.

Soldado was very strong at moving around in the middle of the field and trying to make space when there really wasn't a whole lot there. His interplay with Paulinho in particular was world-class, and he was perhaps unlucky not to finish with an assist as well when he set up Sigurdsson on a platter.

One goal and four goalscoring chances created for the match.

Talk about a memorable debut.

Etienne Capoue, Jermain Defoe, Younes Kaboul (SUB): B-

Hard to measure the performance of Younes Kaboul given that he only played a handful of minutes, but both Capoue and Defoe were good additions from Villas-Boas.

Defoe should have scored after a fantastic run to the top of the Palace box, but he scuffed his shot and sent it wide. The veteran is seemingly going to fill a very nice role coming off the bench this year for Tottenham, though he will face competition from Emmanuel Adebayor, one would think.

Capoue was also impressive in his Premier League debut.

He completed 19 of his 21 attempted passes and made a staggering nine defensive actions in just over half an hour of play—something that will definitely have pleased the North London fans and have them anxiously excited about the season that lies ahead.

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All statistics provided via Squawka unless otherwise noted.


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