After the 4-0 demolition of Bournemouth ten days ago, Tottenham Hotspur fell to hated London rivals Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinal this past Saturday. A slightly peculiar starting lineup, combined with some poor defending, and a whole heck of a lot of bad luck, saw Spurs ousted from England’s most prestigious cup competition. Unlike their other performances at Wembley this year though, Tottenham’s play was nothing to be ashamed of, and the 4-2 scoreline is deceiving. One can’t say that Chelsea didn’t deserve to win — they were ruthlessly clinical in nearly all their chances — but Spurs controlled large swaths of the match and on the whole were a better side on the day. Football can be fickle.
Spurs head into their thirty-third game of the year with the Premier League’s most goals, the least against, and the largest goal differential. At seventy-one points they are four back from Chelsea in second place. There is still a month to play in the season, but these are astounding statistics and an incredible place in the table for this stage in the campaign. They are seven and eight points clear of City and United respectively, who possess fourth and fifth and fifth place in the table, while Liverpool’s loss to Palace on Sunday keeps them five back from Spurs in third place, but with two extra games played.
Wednesday’s opponents, Crystal Palace, are on absolute fire. Spurs flawless run of Premier League form and their push to challenge Chelsea at the top has been a massive storyline, but if Tottenham weren’t so prolific in the last month, everyone might be talking more about Crystal Palace. Their April results are intimidating. They’ve defeated Arsenal comprehensively, while also taking care of Chelsea and Liverpool, and drew Leicester too. Those are fantastic results for any club in the country and Tottenham will face a fearless opponent, brimming with confidence, at Selhurst Park.
The front three of Christian Benteke, Wilifred Zaha, and Andros Townsend have run riot of late and all three have dynamism and quality to their game. Benteke, in particular, is finally healthy and is a goal scoring machine. His quality has never been questioned and he is a handful up front who is fit and firing on all cylinders. Further, Zaha has played so well that their are rumors of Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur swooping in for the winger this summer.
Cabaye and Puncheon are veterans and solid in the center of the park, but the achilles heal of the Eagles is their backline. Not that they’ve been poor in this run of form, but fifty-three goals against is thirty-one more goals than Spurs have let up all year. They aren’t terrible, in fact they have a lot of serviceable players in defense, namely James Tompkins and Joel Ward, but they are certainly susceptible to concede.
There was a possibility that Spurs were going to run the table, and it was very easy to buy into that notion with the way they were playing, but that was always an unlikely outcome. The more probable path was that they would lose a match and be tested. With a cranking Crystal Palace side next and the North London Derby this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur don’t have time to dwell on their FA Cup defeat. There is a lot riding on this week, hopefully Spurs can rise to two formidable challenges.
How to Watch
Date/time: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. (UK), 3:00 p.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Selhurst Park, London, UK
Official: Jonathan Moss
TV: NBCSN (NBC Sports Live Extra), Sky Sports 1/HD UK, BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Go UK (UK), TSN2, TSNGO (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
Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain the two significant players unavailable for the trip to Selhurst Park, but Rose is close and could potentially feature against Arsenal.
The odd choice to play Son Heung-Min and Kieran Trippier in place of Ben Davies and Kyle Walker is still baffling, but I can’t see that continuing. Spurs were rolling with the 4-2-3-1 and I think Poch reverts back to that formation. I just can’t see using three center-backs against Palace, however daunting their attack might currently be, while Danny Rose is out.
For this reason, Lloris with start in net, with Jan and Toby in the center-back spots, and Ben Davies and Kyle Walker playing the outside back positions. Moose and Victor will partner in the middle, with the attacking band of Sonny, Dele, and Eriksen being strut out. Harry Kane will be the lone striker up top.
Everybody in the masthead had Spurs beating Bournemouth, only GN Punk was so bold as to pick a 4-0 victory. Its why he’s the Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League leader, folks.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Table
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Dustin Menno: Big Sam gonna Big Sam, but I think we pull out of this one okay. 2-1 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: This is all terrifying, but adversity had to come at some point. Lets not forgot how fantastically good we are, and how opportune Chelsea’s performance was. We are still really good and I am sure as shit not afraid of Crystal Palace, no matter their form. 3-1 Spurs.
Jake Meador: I'm nervous but I think we figure them out and pick up a nervy 2-1 win.
GN Punk: I feel like this is a pivotal moment in the season. Do we rally together for these final six matches and forget about the FA Cup disappointment? Or do we crash and burn? I'm going with the former. I think this team learned from last year. 3-1 Spurs.
Alex Greenberg: Harry Kane loves a London Derby. He scores twice, Townsend gets one back for Palace, and Big Sam chews the crap out of a piece of gum. 2-1 Spurs.
Brian Mechanick: A tad scared that Spurs start slow after a heartbreaking FA Cup loss. But the defense is strong and the attack is there, so give me a ho-hum 1-0 Spurs win.
Pardeep Cattry: Here's hoping Spurs have learned from last year and can rebound from a disappointing FA Cup loss. Tottenham 2-1.