Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur are on opposite sides of momentum heading into Saturday's meeting at Selhurst Park.
Alan Pardew's south London outfit are without a Premier League win or goal since the weekend before Christmas. Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino's north Londoners head across the River Thames looking to maintain their strong away form (see below) and an unbeaten league record against fellow capital clubs this season.
Neither will be satisfied with the compromise of a score draw.
Palace are still ruing missed opportunities in the early going of last week's 4-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Damien Delaney notably fired a free header straight at Joe Hart with the match still level. Speaking pre-Tottenham, Pardew highlighted a subsequent lack of composure from his attack as an area they are looking to address.
"We've worked hard this week trying to get our strikers to relax and set themselves to shoot, rather than to pass or take a touch," the Eagles boss revealed, per their club's official Twitter page. "We actually got into City's box more times than they did ours, but we were lacking that final moment."
Fourth-placed Spurs are looking to keep track with the teams above them and put more points between those not far behind, including Crystal Palace.
Pochettino rotated his squad for their midweek FA Cup replay win over Leicester City. He believes his players' continued readiness when called upon will be vital to achieving the team's aims.
"Always it’s about the team, it’s about a collective effort and I think if we want to achieve something at the end of the season, every single player will be very important for us," he told Tottenham's official website. "We want to keep the spirit that we have and that we show in every game."
Date: Saturday, January 23
Time: 3 p.m. GMT/10 a.m. ET
Venue: Selhurst Park, London
TV Info: No live UK broadcast, extended highlights from 10 p.m. on Sky Sports 1 (U.K. only)/USA Network (U.S. only)
Live Stream: No UK stream/NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S. only)
|Crystal Palace and Tottenham's Last Five Results|
|Crystal Palace||Tottenham Hotspur|
|Premier League, January 16: Manchester City (A)—Loss: 4-0||FA Cup, January 20: Leicester City - replay (A)—Win: 0-2|
|Premier League, January 12: Aston Villa (A)—Loss: 1-0||Premier League, January 16: Sunderland (H)—Win: 4-1|
|FA Cup, January 9: Southampton (A)—Win: 1-2||Premier League, January 13: Leicester City (H)—Loss: 0-1|
|Premier League, January 3: Chelsea (H)—Loss: 0-3||FA Cup, January 10: Leicester City (H)—Draw: 2-2|
|Premier League, December 28: Swansea City (H)—Draw: 0-0||Premier League, January 3: Everton (A)—Draw: 1-1|
|Both clubs' official websites|
Crystal Palace are still without Yannick Bolasie and Bakary Sako. Striker Dwight Gayle is nearing a return to fitness but will not make what should be the same squad as Pardew took up to the north-west last Saturday.
Tottenham are still without Ryan Mason, Alex Pritchard and Clinton Njie. As of Thursday, Pochettino was still waiting to see how others reacted to the midweek cup effort, per the club website.
The XI that lines up for Crystal Palace against Tottenham could well be the same lineup that started at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.
Pardew has not deviated from the back four of (right to left) Joel Ward, Scott Dann, Damien Delaney and Papa Souare in January.
They will feel they could have done better for one or two of Manchester City's four goals. Leaving Sergio Aguero unmarked as the home side finished an otherwise tremendous team move for their third was certainly unwise. But the Palace back four were also too often left exposed by a midfield who, after a solid opening 20 minutes, soon shirked their protective duties.
Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey should feel aggrieved to have been singled out for criticism by his boss, via Sky Sports, over his recent form (fuelled by Fabian Delph's long-range opener beating him at his near post). While he was definitely at fault for the decisive goal in their loss to Aston Villa, he too suffered from his team-mates' failure to stop City shooting from distance.
A recall for the more defensive-minded stalwart Mile Jedinak may go some way to helping a problem also evident in the preceding game at Villa. Then again, Pardew has indicated he intends to focus on taking the game to Tottenham. The trio of Yohan Cabaye, Joe Ledley and James McArthur are definitely capable of initiating that.
The deceptively quick Wilfried Zaha is the Eagles' most dangerous attacking option in the absence of Bolasie. Puncheon is not too far behind there at his somewhat understated best. Ahead of them, Connor Wickham will be leading the line in his second start back from injury.
For Tottenham, their midweek win over Leicester has certainly given Pochettino plenty to think about.
With the experienced core of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and centre-backs Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld inevitable returnees following their night off, the intrigue in Spurs' selection for Palace lies on the flanks.
Pochettino has rotated his squadron of full-backs to relatively good effect of late, a fair move given his stated intent—per the club's website—to "select the right players in every game to try to win the game." His logic behind that is rather tougher to predict.
Despite playing against the Foxes, Kyle Walker may get the nod ahead of Kieran Trippier at right-back to take on Zaha. Wednesday's deputising captain is perhaps a little more suited athletically and positionally for the task than the younger defender.
If so, Ben Davies could be again on the left given he has generally been paired with Walker of late.
Midfield is less trickier to predict in the league. Though he covered in defence midweek, Eric Dier should be back in his more regular position alongside Mousa Dembele, a standout performer in the 4-1 win over Sunderland.
Further forward, Christian Eriksen is likely to retain his place as a nominal inside-left midfielder after two fine outings in the last seven days. Joining him and Dele Alli this week could be Heung-Min Son after his own strong showing at Leicester, albeit playing in a less advanced role with Harry Kane coming in back up top.
Crystal Palace Player to Watch: Connor Wickham
"Forget anything else about Manchester City," Pardew said of last week’s defeat, per his club's website. "The biggest factor in that game was that Connor is back and he produced a good number nine display.”
Wickham was replaced after 66 minutes, but in the Eagles’ more threatening moments, he had made an influential contribution.
The aforementioned Delaney header resulted from the striker finding room out left and delivering a perfect cross. Later he found himself challenging the nervy Man City defenders, too—a scissor-kick attempt impressing in design, if not execution.
"If he gets goals on the back of his displays, we're going to have ourselves a really good player and we can start talking about Connor Wickham and not Harry Kane!" Pardew added, having previously praised the Spurs striker.
Up against the division’s still currently stingiest defence, Wickham will have an ideal opportunity to test these different aspects of his game.
Tottenham Hotspur Player to Watch: Heung-Min Son
Son is not a nailed-on starter like Wickham. But having been moved in and out of the Tottenham team in recent months, now seems a good as time as any to see where he stands in back-to-back appearances.
The scorer of Spurs’ winner against the Eagles in September, Son was excellent against Leicester. His goals in both games gave great examples of his propulsive style and the ability to cap his runs with similarly searing shots.
The South Korea international is not alone among the squad’s attacking midfielders in staking a claim for more minutes. But given the Palace midfield’s tendency to stand off—and the disconnect with their defence this can create—he may be best suited to exploiting it.
Key Battle: Set-plays and crosses
"The manager wants more crosses and shots on goal," Chung-Yong Lee told Crystal Palace's official website this week. Given the trouble the latter caused Man City early on, be it from the flanks or corner-kicks, Pardew’s inkling is understandable.
After being twice caught out defending aerial situations in the preceding games against Leicester, Tottenham were much better on Wednesday and against Sunderland. Similar alertness backed up by determination to get clear second balls could get them some way to grounding the Eagles.
Spurs could also do with improving their own final-third work here, at set-pieces especially.
Eriksen is struggling to get his free-kicks over the wall right now, while both he and Erik Lamela are not fairing much better at corners. Improving the qualities of their deliveries would be a useful tool in helping round out the team’s attack.
Odds (via Odds Shark)
Crystal Palace win: 23-10
Tottenham win: 6-5