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Tottenham Hotspur vs. Crystal Palace: Statistics and Projections

Two clubs completely changed by managerial firings take the field at White Hart Lane tomorrow. I have some stats and projections. Spurs should win.

Jamie McDonald

Crystal Palace probably aren't going to be relegated. At the time of Tony Pulis' hiring, Crystal Palace had four points from eleven matches. Since the former Stoke City boss took over, Palace have taken thirteen points from eight matches. That's an improvement from .36 Pts/Match up to 1.63. A complete transformation.

And it's not just a fluke of winning close matches, either. Crystal Palace had terrible underlying stats before Pulis' hiring and they have improved to roughly league average under his stewardship. What's interesting, however, is that Pulis' effect appears to have been felt in the club's attack rather than their defense. Palace's defensive numbers have only improved marginally under Pulis, while their attacking stats are massively improved.

Attack xG DZ SiB DZ SiBoT W SiB W SiBoT SoB SoBoT %Cross %TB %DZ Shot Qual SiBB%
Holloway 0.7 2.1 0.9 1.9 0.8 6.3 1.0 41.2% 3.7% 20.7% 0.067 15.6%
Pulis 1.1 5.6 2.1 1.5 0.5 4.6 1.5 60.0% 0.0% 47.9% 0.088 21.1%

Defense xG DZ SiB DZ SiBoT W SiB W SiBoT SoB SoBoT %Cross %TB %DZ Shot Qual SiBB%
Holloway 1.1 5.3 1.5 2.4 1.1 5.9 2.0 40.5% 3.9% 38.9% 0.087 19.7%
Pulis 1.0 4.9 1.6 2.1 0.9 5.5 1.4 51.3% 5.9% 39.0% 0.079 21.4%

Palace have gone from complete attacking incompetence under Holloway to rugged English cromulence with Pulis. It's pretty much impossible to overstate how bad those "Holloway (attack)" stats are. 80% of their shots were taken from outside the danger zone. They only managed four shots from inside the box per match. Pulis has the club pinging crosses into the box and has more than doubled the percentage of shots taken from the danger zone. Shots off crosses are not the highest-expectation chances, but they beat the crap out of the randomly firing from deep than characterized the attack under Holloway.

Tony Pulis clubs never play through-balls.

You do see a few small improvements in the defensive numbers under Pulis. Fewer shots from the danger zone, more of those shots assisted by crosses. Those are the markers of an effective defensive shell. A slightly higher percentage of shots inside the box blocked suggests that Crystal Palace are getting back and getting organized somewhat more effectively too.

It could be that it will take longer for Pulis' defensive tactics to bear fruit, while Holloway's attack was so awful that anything would be better. But I think it's interesting that Pulis' effects can be seen much more obviously in the attacking numbers than in the defensive stats.

Projections for Spurs-Palace

Outcome MCofA% Bookie% %Top4 %Title
W 66% 70% 17% 1.0%
D 23% 20% 10% 0.4%
L 11% 10% 7% 0.2%

Crystal Palace have been relatively good recently, but this is still a home match against a bottom-third side. If Spurs expect to remain in contention through the spring, these are must-win matches. I hope we win.