On a miserable night at Selhurst Park, Tottenham Hotspur managed to fight off a feisty Crystal Palace side to pick up three crucial points in the race for the top four, winning the match by a final score of 1-0.
In the first few minutes of the match, it was obvious that this was going to be an ugly slogfest. Hilariously, the forecast on Accuweather called for “light rain” in the London area. Every closeup of the match showed the steady rain that was far more than light, affecting the run of play in just about every possible way. There was an amazing shot of Mauricio Pochettino in the 18th minute, bundled up and looking absolutely miserable. Prior to that shot, Crystal Palace had controlled most of the match and had a couple of decent chances, so perhaps his miserable look was less about the weather and more about how Spurs had played up until that point.
Immediately after that, Moussa Sissoko lit a fire under himself and dribbled through not one, not two, not three but four defenders into the penalty area. He ripped a solid shot heading for the far side netting but Mamadou Sakho managed to block the chance to end the threat.
In the 23rd minute, Spurs received some bad news as it looks like their injury woes only got worse. Kieran Trippier went down with what looked to be a hamstring injury in the penalty area while trying to defend on an attack. Serge Aurier replaced him immediately after with no argument. Tottenham cannot keep adding to the injury list like this and survive fixture after fixture, so let’s hope that the injury isn’t bad.
Spurs had a real chance at a goal in the 28th minute. Ben Davies, who was having his way on the left flank at that point in the match, played a great cross into the penalty area. A waiting Dele stood alone in the box and put a header back towards the far post. The effort wasn’t bad, but ended up going out well past the post.
At that point, the press kicked in for Spurs. The attacking band forced a big turnover that went right to Harry Kane. After a couple of touches, the English International blasted a long distance shot that knuckled a bit, but Wayne Hennessey was up to the challenge and parried it away.
Spurs had another chance in the 37th minute as they turned up the pressure. Serge Aurier came up the right flank and crossed the ball into the six yard box, where a mass of players were at. Lucas was the only one who was near the pass, but his headed effort left him a couple of inches short of getting on the end of it. The attack fizzled out after that. There wasn’t much else of note after that, ending the first half as we started, 0-0.
Somehow, a track meet broke out in the second half. Both sides were more than happy to just trade possessions, trying to find the final pass into the attacking third but neither unlocking the opposing side. This continued on until the 60th minute when Spurs started to take over possession, forcing Crystal Palace onto their back heel and defend more than they’d like.
The 65th minute finally saw Spurs rewarded for their efforts. Erik Lamela delivered a beautiful corner kick that found Kane’s head. His attempt was deflected by Palace, popping up into the air. Juan Foyth, forced into action because of an injury to Davinson Sanchez, found himself in perfect position to head the ball home. The young Argentine had his first career Premier League goal and Spurs had a 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, Spurs tried to make it 2-0 as Lamela timed a run perfectly on a deep ball to him. Lamela either mistimed the pass or it was just too powerful for him, but Hennessey managed to come off his line and gather the ball before Lamela could chip it over him.
A scary moment came in the 80th minute for Erik Lamela, taking a cleat to the head on a challenge that split him open. Inexplicably, referee Jon Moss allowed the match to continue even though it was an obvious head injury. Palace’s attack eventually ended with the ball going out to touch, but there is zero excuse for him allowing that with an obvious head injury. The Argentine was replaced by Harry Winks, turning the formation into a more defensive one in hopes of riding out the 1-0 advantage.
It became “hold your breath” time for Spurs after that as Palace controlled the match while Spurs went into a defensive shell. Hugo Lloris made a few key saves to deny Palace the equalizer all the way into stoppage time. In the 91st minute, Palace’s corner attempt went way too far and was gathered up by Sissoko, who had a hell of a match. The French midfielder made a great run down the left flank and found a sprinting Son Heung-Min. Sonny made a cut in and put a shot on target, but had his attempt saved by Hennessey.
Spurs defending continued as they had to snuff one a couple of half-chances by the home side, but they were up to the task. Finally, Moss blew his whistle for a good reason, bringing the match to an end and giving Spurs all three points at Selhurst Park.
Thoughts on the Match:
- That was a rough one to watch. The rain obviously made it tough for both sides but that first half especially was brutal to watch.
- Kieran Trippier joins the injury list with a hamstring injury, it looked like. God only knows how long he’ll be out but we’re getting close to being able to field a starting XI with our M*A*S*H unit.
- Juan Foyth! What can you say about the kid? He’s had a trial by fire the last couple of weeks and he picks up the winner today.
- Moussa Sissoko was fabulous today. He was good in attack, snuffed out some passes, and his little bit of skill towards the end of the match where he flicked and cleared it to himself? Sexy. I’ve been a big critic of him, but credit where it’s due: He’s been quite good the last several matches.
- Words cannot express my anger with Jon Moss. Lamela had a clear head injury and opted to not bother running five yards to check on him, allowing the Palace attack to continue. Rules are clear: Head injuries are an automatic stoppage. Here’s hoping that all it ends up being is a couple of stitches and a bruise.
- Outside of one crappy pass, Hugo was magnificent. He made a few huge saves down the stretch and earned that clean sheet.
- Three points are three points. Spurs head into the international break on 27 points out of a possible 36 at 9-0-3. They will be in fourth place no matter the outcomes of tomorrow’s matches.