Tottenham Hotspur inch up the table into 5th place after a win today, only one point out of the top four and six out of first. Spurs had a rough start, but grew into the game to ultimately win 2-0 at home.
Tim Sherwood named an unchanged side from the FA Cup loss to Arsenal, and the early going once again saw Spurs struggle to control the center of the park while playing a 4-4-2 without a true defensive midfielder. In the 7th minute, Vlad Chiriches sauntered forward only to give away the ball. Palace countered quickly, and Delaney played Chamakh in behind the exposed Spurs defense. A clumsy challenge from Mousa Dembele gave away a dumb penalty and Palace should have gone 1-0 up. Luckily for Spurs, Jason Puncheon took one of the worst penalties in the history of mankind and let Spurs off the hook.
Instead of packing the box, Palace looked happy to take the game to Spurs and had several other decent chances as the half wore on. Spurs' sloppy passing kept putting the back line under pressure, and the team struggled to put anything together in the final third. Spurs best chance of the half came from a long-range strike from youngster Nabil Bentaleb, whose upper 90 rocket smashed off the woodwork.
Fortunately, Spurs came back from half time looking much more composed, but a few minutes into the half, an injury to Kyle Walker saw the right back come off for Kyle Naughton. Shortly thereafter the substitute played a nice long ball to Adebayor, whose flicked header found Christian Eriksen inside the box. The Dane controlled the ball excellently before burying a beautiful shot past Speroni.
Jermain Defoe came on for Soldado with a half hour left to play, and the Toronto-bound striker made sure not to leave without reminding the Spurs faithful just what they'd be missing. In the 73rd minute a slightly-offside Defoe avoided the linesman's flag, collected a pass from Lennon behind the defense, and scooped the ball over the Palace keeper to make it 2-0.
Palace had a few half-chances as the game wound to a close, but after getting the go-ahead goal Spurs never looked in danger of missing out on three points.
Some thoughts on the match:
- We were very lucky to get away with our terrible first half performance but credit to Sherwood for his half time team talk, as the second half was much much better.
- Vlad Chiriches is an insane person. Such crazy. Much scared. So danger.
- Nabil Bentaleb had a very good game. He did much better defensively than in recent outings, and he controlled the tempo pretty well.
- Kyle Naughton played some nice balls today, and despite his terribleness at LB, he'll be a solid backup while Walker recovers from whatever is wrong with Walker.
- Oh god why is there something wrong with Walker?
- As good as Soldado's link-up play and passing has been recently, he had a bit of a nightmare today. One good pass to set up an Eriksen chance to start the second half aside, he didn't contribute a whole lot.
- Whatever good things happen for us this season, Christian Eriksen is probably going to be at the heart of them. Class player.
- If this is the last time we see Defoe in a Spurs shirt, it was nice to see him sign off with a goal. Yiddo.