Tottenham Hotspur are back in action on Saturday when they host Crystal Palace in their home opener. It’s a match that has a feel of a goodbye tour -- it’s the final season at White Hart Lane, and there’s remarkably a feeling of melancholy around all of Spurs’ home matches this season.
Or maybe it’s just me? This is a season of lasts: the last time we’ll play these teams on the (narrow) White Hart Lane pitch. The stadium is already partially demolished. Champions League matches are being played at Wembley Stadium this year. It’s exciting, but also a little sad.
The last time Tottenham hosted Crystal Palace was in the FA Cup, and the Fightin’ Pardews came away with a 1-0 win on the back of a Martin Kelly goal. Palace eventually got to the FA Cup final before falling to Manchester United. Spurs, however, had very little trouble against Pardew’s Palace team last season in the league. After all, it was against Palace (albeit at Selhurst Park) that Dele Alli did this:
But one should never overlook Palace, should they? After all, Palace still have Yannick Bo... I mean, they’ll have Christian Bente... Okay, well there’s always their captain Mile Jedi...
Well, they still have Andros Townsend.
The truth is Palace probably has the makings of a halfway decent team, but they’re in a spot of transition right now, and they’re also really dinged up. Their midfield is pretty soft even before the injuries, and this looks on paper to be a side that you’d expect Spurs to be able to handle easily.
But that’s the thing about expectations. I’m pretty sure Leicester thought they’d easily handle a tire-fire of a Hull City team last week too. So no, I’m not taking things for granted here. More than anything, I want a solid performance out of Tottenham this weekend: I’d like to see improvement in the midfield, Harry Kane back to his old self, and a derp-free defense. Not getting the three points would be annoying, but it’s far too soon to start getting MAD ONLINE.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, August 20, 2016, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: White Hart Lane, North London, UK
Official: Michael Oliver
TV: NBC Sports Extra Time (the “extra channels”) (USA), not televised (UK), TSN5 (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
We know, for the most part, what the lineup is probably going to look like tomorrow. Michel Vorm will start in goal, but the majority of the team that took the field against Everton last week will still be there. However, there are still important questions to be asked, especially of Spurs’ central midfield. Last week the tandem of Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama struggled against an Everton back five that was set up to bunker and counterattack. That, combined with Spurs’ switch to a midfield diamond and the insertion of Vincent Janssen, led to much discussion on this site and elsewhere that perhaps we might see a tactical shake-up at home against Palace. However, I’m not certain Pochettino is ready to throw in the towel on the Dieyama midfield quite yet. We haven’t yet seen what that pairing can do against a more traditional lineup, and until we get that I suspect we won’t see much change in the short term. Poche’s substitution was an astute one, but I think we’ll see the same starting 11 as last weekend, even though I’d love to see Pochettino #FreeWinksy.
Luke Zimmermann nailed both the result and the final score, correctly predicting last week’s 1-1 draw. Nobody else even predicted the draw, which makes the table easy, at least. A reminder of the scoring: one point for correctly predicting the match result, and a bonus point if you nail the exact score.
|Earl of Shoop||0|
Dustin Menno: Crystal Palace don’t look like a good team. Based on the second half of Everton, Spurs do. Also, I refuse to pick Alan Pardew to get a result against Spurs at home because I hate his smug face. 3-1 Spurs. Andros Townsend will score because of course he will.
mpachniuk: As pedestrian as our midfield was against the Toffees, Palace's is worse. It's Spurs home opener and their opponent is not only banged up, but has the potential to struggle mightily this campaign. Still working the kinks out, Spurs won't be high flying, but they won't concede either. 2-0 Tottenham.
Luke Zimmermann: It's not a season opener and Spurs looked the genuine article in the second half against Everton. At home and with their sea legs under them, Spurs play the game they meant to a week ago. 2-1 Tottenham
Alex Greenberg: Thankfully Benteke probably won't be ready for this one. Townsend will be fired up to play his childhood club, but Janssen gets his first goal as Spurs win easily 2-0.
Brian Meyers: Palace still has no EPL quality attacking players. Spurs play an attacking lineup and dispatch Palace easily. 2-0 Spurs.
Skipjack: 2-1 Spurs but will Lewis Holtby deliberately miss one of Andros' crosses?
Earl of Shoop: Alan Pardew headbuts Dele Alli in a fit of managerial rage, Andros Townsend assists a goal via a millimeter-perfect cross that was clearly intended as a shot, Spurs ride to victory on goals by Kane and Janssen. Spurs 2-1.
Pardeep Cattry: Andros Townsend's back at the Lane, so maybe he'll get an assist. Nonetheless, Spurs will ride on the positives of the second half against Everton and record their first win of the season. 2-1 Tottenham.
Ben Daniels: The last time we played Andros Townsend, things went rather poorly. Newcastle is dead and gone, but we can still take it out on Andros. 5-1 Spurs.
Ed F.: Spurs somehow fail to score and, while Palace fail to better them, Alan Pardew still headbutts Poch and then leaps into the Holmesdale End in celebration. 0-0 draw.
Jake Meador: Andros scores a worldy from 30 yards out of the sort he never seemed capable of scoring while at Spurs. But it doesn't matter b/c Palace's midfield is LOL. The Year of Coco continues with Lamela grabbing a goal and Alli gets the other, though it won't top his last goal v Palace. 2-1 Spurs.
Bryan A.: Andros Townsend scores a worldy, or what looks like a worldy, but is really Michel Vorm quietly dozing against his near post. 1-0 Palace.
GN_Punk: Palace aren't good. They got worse by selling Bolasie to Everton. Spurs win this one 2-0 with Kane and Janssen scoring. There ends up being 10 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game because Andros kicks every ball out of The Lane and the ball boys have to chase them.
Salmon Chase: I feel like this game will be both as lit, and potentially disappointing, or glorious as Bachelor In Paradise. But I'm predicting this game will be more of a Carly and less of a Lace, although the it could be a Josh Murray which is super depressing. 2-1 Spurs
Brian Mechanick: I don't see the attacking punch in this Crystal Palace side, and I see this being the Victor-Wanyama-bosses-the-world game. Give me a Kane brace, and a comfy win. 2-0 Spurs.