Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Crystal Palace

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Premier League: How Tottenham Hotspur Will Line Up Against Crystal Palace
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Football traditionalists will rejoice this weekend in the knowledge that Tottenham Hotspur will play their first Saturday, 3pm kick-off since September when they host Crystal Palace.

When not moved to Sunday following Europa League matches, Tottenham's Premier League fixtures have been at the mercy of British television networks.

Palace at the Lane on a cold January Saturday afternoon is a little slice of normalcy then in a season that has erred on the side of strange for Spurs. Record transfer fees, humbling thrashings and coaching changes have seen to it being a little more frenetic than usual.

It so happens the game is also the North London club's 200th London derby since the inception of the Premier League:

For manager Tim Sherwood, this past week has been his first opportunity to reflect properly on where his team stands following six games in just over two weeks (including two when he was still interim boss).

Naturally, the main indicator is results. Spurs have won three of their four Premier League games and probably should have got more than a draw versus West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. A first home league win since late October—3-0 over Stoke City—was also important for the team going forward.

The FA Cup third round defeat to Arsenal does ensure doubts remain over Spurs' competitiveness against the division's top teams right now and what they can do to beat them going forward. As good a performance as they put in beating Manchester United 2-1, a win at Old Trafford does not carry quite the same kudos these days.

The latter issue will be put on the back-burner for the time being. However, in Palace they face a team who will work them hard for their second win in a row at White Hart Lane.

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Vlad Chiriches and the Spurs defence had a tough time of it versus Arsenal. They will be looking to stop Crystal Palace's attack if they can.

The Eagles have won two of their last four away games and in the other two gave Manchester City and Chelsea as tough a game on their home turf as either had faced all season.

Leading the resistance against Tony Pulis' resurgent side will be goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

The Frenchman's selection remains as much as a no-brainer as Sherwood has in picking his starting XI. Lloris should be wary, though, of the physicality posed by Palace strike pair Marouane Chamakh and Cameron Jerome.

Should Pulis opt for something a little different, it might be nippy young forward Dwight Gayle who scored in their FA Cup defeat of West Brom.

The Spurs defence had a handful with the similarly lively Theo Walcott last week. With Jan Vertonghen still out and Younes Kaboul a little way off full match fitness, Vlad Chiriches and Michael Dawson will likely be tasked with dealing whoever Palace puts up against them in central defence.

Danny Rose's two toughest games as Spurs left-back have been against Arsenal. The most recent might not have been all that noteworthy, however, but for his poor control directly allowing Tomas Rosicky to seal the Gunners' 2-0 win (in fairness to Rose, he was unnecessarily put under pressure by Roberto Soldado playing the ball back after a corner had been cleared).

Fitness permitting, Sherwood will almost certainly hand Rose a chance for a little redemption. Kyle Walker is likely to continue at right-back.

With team news not available at the time of writing, predicting Spurs' midfield and attack is a little more challenging. One assumption that will be made on the basis of the featured training video from Spurs' official YouTube channel this week (see right) is that Sandro is fit again.

Yet to play under Sherwood, this would be an ideal opportunity for the new manager to get a look at his Brazilian midfielder in the context of his side. Despite playing in every game over Christmas and New Years, Mousa Dembele is likely to continue centrally with alternative options limited.

After excelling versus Manchester United, Christian Eriksen was decidedly off-key last weekend. For the time being, he should keep his base position on the left-hand side of midfield. Spurs will look for him to make his passes and attacking contributions count, though, with the impending return of Andros Townsend an option for a different kind of penetration if the Dane does not provide.

Aaron Lennon has done enough in recent weeks to keep his right-wing spot. Up front, Emmanuel Adebayor will be keen to get back to scoring ways after drawing a blank at his old club last time out.

The identity of Sherwood's other striker is likely the most intriguing aspect of his possible line-up.

Soldado went off with a calf injury last weekend. Even if he should be fit in time, the manager might opt to try something different with the Spaniard's shooting boots still not quite working.

Jermain Defoe may be Toronto bound if reports are to be believed. In which case, Sherwood could look to get every last bit of use out of the England striker before he departs, starting with the first part of a White Hart Lane farewell this weekend.

We were spoiled rotten with so many Premier League games in December. It is back now after the comparatively long wait of a week-and-a-half. Now we wait to see what kind of return it will be for Tottenham Hotspur.

 

Predicted Tottenham line-up vs. Crystal Palace:

Hugo Lloris; Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson (c), Vlad Chiriches, Danny Rose; Aaron Lennon, Sandro, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen; Emmanuel Adebayor, Jermain Defoe.

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