As soon as the knockout stage of the 2017-18 Champions League was announced, it was evident that a two week period in early February would likely define the remainder of Tottenham Hotspur’s season. Pitted against United, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Juventus, it would be make or break time for the North Londoners. Coming away undefeated with wins over Manchester United and Arsenal, while notching gutsy away points against Juventus and Liverpool is about as well as anyone could’ve hoped for. When faced with a gauntlet, this 2017-18 Tottenham Hotspur showed stamina and class when it was most necessary.
Though Tottenham’s place in the Premier League table hasn’t changed since the beginning of this stretch, they are in much better position to achieve a top four place then they have been in a very long while. Their win against Arsenal created a seven point gap between them and their North London rivals, while they moved to just one point behind fourth placed Chelsea, two points behind third placed Liverpool, and only four points from second placed United. The season still has a ways to go, but you’d like Spurs chances to rise in that group considering the teams they’ve already played and the form and health that they are in.
Crystal Palace, on the other hand, are in another relegation scrap as February comes to a close. The team has actually had some pretty decent results over the course of the year, but have yet to find a groove for more than a match or two. The Golden Eagles defeated both Chelsea and Leicester earlier in the year, while drawing to Manchester City — an impressive feat within itself. Yet they haven’t fully recovered from their awful start under Frank de Boer, which saw them lose their first seven matches of the Premier League season.
Probably the storyline of the Crystal Palace season has been the inability to get Christian Bentenke on track. The oft-injured Belgian has actually featured twenty-one times this season, but has scored just twice in all competitions. For a player who was proven when healthy, this is a massive disappointment for the South London side. Ex-Spur Andros Townsend has been reliable in attack, playing in twenty-eight matches for Palace, while Wilifred Zaha, constantly linked to Spurs it seems, has been both inconsistent in his health and form throughout the term — though he is a bonafide handful on his day. Lastly, Luka Milivojević provides a spark in midfield and is a quality two-way player. While he is more defensive, he has notched seven goals on the season and leads Crystal Palace in scoring.
Defensively the Golden Eagles are simply boring and mediocre. Its not the worst backline in the world, but between Dann, Ward, Van Aaholt, Tomkins, Fosu-Mensah, and Sahko there isn’t an absolute lock-down defender in that bunch. And for the price tag that Van Aaholt signed for, one would have hoped he’d be more convincing on both sides of the ball for Palace.
How to Watch
Date/time: Sunday February 25, 2018, 12:00 p.m. (UK), 7:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Selhurst Park, London, UK
Official: Kevin Friend
TV: NBCSN (USA), Sky Sports Premier League (UK), TSN 2 (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
With the Toby Alderweireld situation mutating into a saga, rumors that he tweaked his hamstring mean that he most certainly won’t feature on Sunday. Lucas Moura is questionable to make the match-day eighteen, but only because he isn’t fit and played seventy minutes against Rochdale, not because of an injury.
Assuming Toby is out (sigh), Spurs will stick to their 4-2-3-1 formation and the lineup feels pretty predictable. Ben Davies and Serge Aurier will rotate in at the outside back spots, with Jan and Davinson starting in center. Red-hot Mousa Dembélé will be paired with Eric Dier (is it 2015-16 again!?), while Sonny, Dele, and Christian Eriksen will form the attacking band. Harry Kane will be up top. How nice is it to have both Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura as options to come off the bench.
Only Ed F and Skipjack didn’t pick Tottenham to beat the Scum, yet no writer predicted a 1-0 scoreline. For the demolishment that Arsenal was handed, its insane that the scoreline wasn’t more embarrassing for Woolwich. Nothing changes at the top as Menno and Pardeep share the spoils.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings 2017-18
|Earl of Shoop
Dustin Menno: We’re probably due a nervy result against an opponent that we’re clearly better than. 1-0 Spurs.
Matthew Pachniuk: Crystal Palace might patch things together, but lets hope they don’t figure things out until after Sunday. They do have some talent, but Tottenham wins 2-0 — one early and one late.
Jake Meador: 1-1.
GN Punk: My optimism is high, which means Palace will make this a match. 2-1 Spurs
Ed F: This seems like an ideal time to be playing Palace- they’re in the grip of an almost surreal injury crisis and are starting to slip inexorably back towards the danger zone. I feel a little bad for them, but I will also be furious if Spurs don’t take tear through them like a soggy paper towel. 3-0 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: Roy Hodgson has done a good job of fixing Palace, but a relatively well-rested Spurs side should do well anyway. Tottenham 2-0.
Earl of Shoop: TBD
Alex Greenberg: 5-1 Spurs. Been a little while since we stomped an opponent, and they’re gonna be without Wilf Zaha.
Joel Wertheimer: 3-0 Spurs
Salmon Chase: TBD
Joe Patrick: I’m feeling a big Spurs win as Palace is likely to be missing Zaha. 4-0 Spurs.
Nathan Giannini: This is the time of year we hit our stride and I’m feeling optimistic, which is a strange feeling (what do I do with my hands?). 2-0 Spurs.