Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace: 6 Things We Learned

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJanuary 11, 2014

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace: 6 Things We Learned

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    Tottenham Hotspur secured a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at White Hart Lane thanks to goals from Christian Eriksen and Toronto FC-bound Jermain Defoe.

    Palace were strong in the first half and should have scored, but Jason Puncheon choked from the penalty spot.

    The Spurs are now on a five-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League.

Tim Sherwood's Tottenham Hotspur Showed Resilience

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    The football Tim Sherwood's Tottenham Hotspur played in the first half was as bad as Jason Puncheon's penalty miss for Crystal Palace.

    The Eagles would have scored at least twice in the first 45 minutes if they were not so wasteful. 

    They had seven shots (none on target and includes a missed penalty), sent in 17 crosses and threatened Spurs, a team that thought they could win the game just by showing up.

    "I thought they [Crystal Palace] might come and sit but they did the opposite to that," Sherwood said, as per Sky Sports. "They had threats on the counter attack, they gave us problems and they should have been ahead at half-time."

    It was a gritty performance from Spurs and they showed resilience to win 2-0. 

    But this is a clear message to Sherwood: No more 4-4-2! 

    What is so bad about playing a 4-2-3-1? 




Nabil Bentaleb's Breakout Performance

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    Etienne, who? Lewis, who?

    Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood can only justify Nabil Bentaleb starting over Etienne Capoue and Lewis Holtby with two words: blind faith.

    Sherwood, you daring genius.

    Bentaleb demanded the ball in tight situations, made accurate passes and was an active presence in midfield throughout the game.

    He attempted the most passes (106), had the highest pass completion percentage for a starting outfielder (93) and if not for the woodwork, would have scored a great debut Premier League goal.

    Compare Bentaleb's assured performance in possession to Crystal Palace's Mile Jedinak, an experienced pro, who was misplacing passes left, right and centre.

    With the ball, Bentaleb is fine. But he needs to work on his defending.

    His tendency to chase the ball instead of just maintaining solid positioning is a concern. 

    This was why he missed so many tackles—seven in total (completed four).

    To put it in numbers: That is a 36.4 tackle success percentage, about 33.6 percentage points below what you would expect from a top-flight central midfielder.

    Against stronger teams, he will be a defensive liability if he continues to make the mistakes he made today. 

    The more games he plays, the more he will adjust and naturally improve.

    Sherwood, keep playing Bentaleb.

    Meanwhile, Tom Carroll, on loan at Queens Park Rangers, is probably wondering: "If only I was in the Spurs squad right now."

Just Play Christian Eriksen as a No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1

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    What is the point of Christian Eriksen spending 37.1 percent of the game on the left wing?

    Defensively, Crystal Palace attacked down his flank and he couldn't do anything about it. 

    He attempted three tackles and only one on the left wing, which he missed on Crystal Palace right-back Adrian Mariappa.

    Why continue to shackle Eriksen? It is a testament to his quality that he is still producing goals and assists.

    He is at his best in a central position. 

    Tottenham Hotspur signed him as a central attacking midfielder—not as a false winger. 

    Abandon the 4-4-2, switch to a 4-2-3-1 and play Eriksen in his natural position as a No. 10. 

Roberto Soldado's Anonymous Display

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    Is Roberto Soldado the Spanish Sergei Rebrov? Sure looks like it at this present moment.

    Jermain Defoe—who's probably spent more time thinking about partying with Drake [1] than Crystal Palace's centre-backs—did more as an impact sub than Soldado managed to do in 58 minutes as a starter.

    Soldado was missing in action (again) while Defoe came on and scored after just 14 minutes.


    [1] Canadian rapper Drake helped convince Defoe to join Major League Soccer side Toronto FC, as per John Cross at The Mirror.  


Erik Lamela: Injured or Dropped?

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    Before you blast Sherwood for continuing to ruin Erik Lamela's career at White Hart Lane by not even including him on the bench, keep in mind that it was a fitness and a not tactical decision to leave Lamela out against Crystal Palace.

    Well, that is if you are to believe Sherwood's account.

    "He's [Lamela] still feeling fatigued in one of his thighs so we are being very cautious with him," Sherwood said, as per Sky Sports. "I really want to put him on the stage when he's ready to perform rather than let people judge him when he's really half-cooked."

    Fatigued? From what, exactly? Sitting on the bench? Is this Sherwood's way of avoiding a selection controversy?

    Even if Sherwood is telling the truth, don't ignore the elephant in the room.

    Lamela doesn't speak English, so he doesn't understand Sherwood.

    Lamela is a wide forward in a 4-3-3 or a wide attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1. He's not a winger in Sherwood's 4-4-2.

    Even if Lamela was fit, would he start over Aaron Lennon or Christian Eriksen? Nope.

    Then you have Lamela's father, Jose, telling the press about a potential return to Serie A.


Tottenham Hotspur Players Comments

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    Hugo Lloris (GK): Dived the wrong way when Crystal Palace right winger Jason Puncheon took his penalty. Thankfully for Lloris, Puncheon's spot-kick went into row z. 

    Kyle Walker (RB): Struggled against Crystal Palace left-winger Yannick Bolasie. Walker was subbed off due to injury and was outperformed by his replacement, Kyle Naughton. 

    Michael Dawson (CB): Probably thought to himself: "Not again," as Chiriches went on his trademark "everyone chill out, I got this" run. 

    Vlad Chiriches (CB): Lost out on 5-of-8 aerial contests and cemented himself as Spurs' answer to David Luiz. Sooner or later, Chiriches will be exposed as he plays the game in such a reckless manner. 

    Danny Rose (LB): Mishit every single one of his six crosses. Often left without help due to Eriksen tucking in. 

    Aaron Lennon (RW): An ideal winger in a 4-4-2 as he provides pace going forward and he's a willing defender. He led Spurs in interceptions (five). 

    Mousa Dembele (CM): Aside from conceding a penalty, another assured Dembele performance.

    Nabil Bentaleb (CM): Tidy with the ball at his feet, dictated the tempo of the game and showed a lot of promise. Needs to work on his defending as he lunged in and missed seven tackles. 

    Christian Eriksen (LW): Well-taken goal. He is class and should spend the entire game centrally.

    Roberto Soldado (CF): Missing in action. 

    Emmanuel Adebayor (CF): Looked better passing the ball than being a goal-threat. It was his pass that led to Eriksen scoring.

    Kyle Naughton (SUB): Once again proved that he is a reliable backup to Walker. Naughton should never be played at left-back again (a position he struggles in). 

    Nacer Chadli (SUB): Came on, collided with the advertising boards and came off for medical assistance. He came back on and played through pain.  

    Jermain Defoe (SUB): Had his first shot denied by Crystal Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni and then scored with his second shot. Toronto FC officials will be pleased. 



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