Tottenham Hotspur played very well against a surging Crystal Palace side, and a goal from Son Heung-Min was enough to get Spurs the three points at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Tottenham started the match with yet another modified lineup as several key midfielders continued to rehab from injury. Dele Alli moved into central midfield alongside Eric Dier, while Erik Lamela, capitalizing on his good performances against Sunderland and Qarabag, got the starting nod alongside Son Heung-Min and Nacer Chadli. Harry Kane, of course, started at striker.
Spurs put together a very nice first half, pushing forward with authority and controlling possession. For most of the first half, Spurs kept Palace on their heels, forcing them to put men behind the ball and try to hit back on the counterattack. Tottenham's back four of Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Ben Davies defended deep and didn't give Palace many opportunities to get shots on goal. It was, overall, a very stout defensive effort.
That said, despite battering Palace for much of the half, they weren't able to really produce much in terms of offensive chances. Harry Kane found himself wide open in the box early, but he scuffed his header, which went high. Nacer Chadli and Son both had attempts on goal that were smothered by Palace keeper Alex McCarthy. Kane was involved in what might have been Spurs' best chance, but he opted to shoot the ball instead of passing across goal to a wide open Erik Lamela at the back post.
For Palace, despite being out-played, they still had a few chances to score. Yannick Bolasie had a nice curling free-kick that was blocked away by a diving Hugo Lloris, and Yannick Cabaye put a shot off the post toward the end of the half. The first half ended scoreless.
Palace opened the second half by bringing in former Hotspur Frazier Campbell for the ineffectual Wilfried Zaha. Spurs did not make any changes until the 65th minute, when Christian Eriksen came on for Nacer Chadli.
It was more of the same for Spurs in the second half: lots of possession, but not much in the way of scoring chances. Spurs continued to press Palace throughout the second half, while Palace seemed content to sit back and concede the midfield to Tottenham while they hit back on counterattacks.
Ben Davies thought he had the opening goal midway through the half after heading the ball past McCarthy in the midst of a scrum in the box. However, official Michael Oliver judged that Kane, who was in an offside position but not involved in the play, was interfering with McCarthy's view, and ruled the goal offside.
Spurs finally broke through on a counterattack of their own in the 69th minute. Erik Lamela made a key tackle in front of Spurs' box and passed to Christian Eriksen. Eriksen found Son wide left who then made a great move to get himself a step of space and fired through McCarthy's legs to put Spurs up 1-0. A great team goal that started with a solid defensive play and pass from Lamela.
Palace had a few decent half chances and dangerous efforts, but apart from a Bakary Sako wide shot that Lloris deflected off the post, their chances were few and far between. Toward the end of the match, Palace pushed men forward to try and get the equalizer, which led to a tense final few minutes at White Hart Lane. Ultimately, they weren't able to get past Spurs' defense and the match ended 1-0.
The win puts Spurs into the top ten, three points out of second place, and this despite going winless in their first four league matches.
- A very, very nice match from Spurs today. Excellent stuff. Passing was incisive, the press was outstanding, and Spurs thoroughly deserved their victory. Would've been nice to have a couple scoring opportunities, but considering how Palace was bunkering, I'm not complaining. Very nice performance all around.
- Not a great game today from Harry Kane. Kane wants to score SO BAD, and it's affecting his decision making. He needs one to go in off his ass so he can stop worrying about scoring and start thinking about bringing in his teammates.
- Dele Alli played quite well today, if a little uneven at times. He was trying some really ambitious stuff, and while it didn't always come off, you can see what he was trying to do from central midfield. He's got a budding bromance with Son Heung-Min, and his minor miscues aren't enough to dampen what was a really solid match in the midfield. And he's still just 19.
- Son is strong. And fast. And very, very good. He's a fantastic signing, and is looking like he could score 10-15 goals for Spurs this season.
- A round of applause for Erik Lamela, who had probably his best match in a Spurs shirt this season. He was all over the pitch, making (mostly) smart decisions. His tackle and pass directly set up Spurs' only goal of the game. He was very good today. Suck it, haters.
- In six matches I've come full circle on Eric Dier from being deeply skeptical of him in midfield to thinking he's probably better than anyone we would've signed this summer barring Morgan Schneiderlin. He was outstanding again today. Rest him, please. We need him healthy.
- Tottenham's defense was solid overall. They rarely gave Palace opportunities in the first half and even when Palace were pushing forward in the second they coped quite well with the pressure.
- So nice to see Christian Eriksen back on the pitch for Spurs. The match changed when he came on. The front four of Kane, Eriksen, Son, and Lamela, might just be our best starting lineup when everyone's healthy.