Eye on the Opposition - Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace (05.11.2017)

Written by Jack Pierce

 

Wembley2

On the Thursday morning commute, I saw a tweet which said something that I'd thought while watching the last ten minutes of Spurs' superb win against Real Madrid the night before.

Would there be anything more 'Spursy' than beating the European champions then losing at home to a Palace side, who remain bottom of the league, just four days later? 

 

Amy Latter, great minds and all that.

Well, in an effort to answer that question, a Palace win on Sunday afternoon would be right up the 'Spursy' Scale. Having seen off Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco, Sergio Ramos and co with such ease on Wednesday night, then surely little old Palace will be swashed away with great ease. The logic is fair and the likelihood is very high BUT would you rule it out? 

No, me neither.

Perhaps unfairly, the 'Spursy' tag is still used despite the strides that the club has made under the management of Mauricio Pochettino. Two runs at a title challenge in each of the last two seasons and now turning over sides the like of Real Madrid's shouldn't be ignored; this is a team of real class and real style. However, until Pochettino wins a trophy, there will remain those inclined to question whether Spurs have the resilience, physically and mentally, that has been lacking and leant itself to the creation and use of 'Spursy'.

What constitutes success for one of the most exciting club sides English football has produced in a generation is a fair question and Pochettino went some way of answering that in his team selection for last week's League Cup tie against West Ham, one they eventually lost. Before and after the match he alluded to his belief that the two domestic cups, while being of great history, were not his priority. He wants either the league title or the Champions League. After performances like Wednesday night's, it's fair to say they should be considered contenders for the latter but is limiting which trophies you're targeting to win cutting off your nose to spite your face? 

Success is success and this group of players will want honours regardless of what the medal says. If wages, as we know, are an issue among this cohort then surely medals and the glories of winning finals is the offer that should be being made to this excellent current crop of Spurs players. Aiming for the very best is great and I'm sure Pochettino genuinely believes his side is capable of lifting either the Premier League of Champions League come May but what if neither materialise? Will he regret previous decisions?

This is a superb Spurs side; make no mistake about that. From front to back, they can call upon players of the highest calibre and if they remain at this level and keep this group of players together for long enough, the success will come.

That said, anything but a Spurs win on Sunday and you might hear that word again. Shhh.

Key players

Davinson Sanchez

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There's a theory that the best time to strengthen is when you're at your strongest. Well, that's exactly what Pochettino has done in regard to his centre halves.

Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen were already considered by many the best centre half combination in the Premier League but the addition of Sanchez adds quality cover as well as offering the manager the opportunity to play three at the back - an option he's used many times already this campaign. With Alderweireld yet to commit to a longer term contract, perhaps Pochettino envisages issues ahead too.

Harry Winks

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I'll be the first to admit I didn't think Winks warranted an England call up for the last set of international fixtures. However, the ease in which he read and played the game against Lithuania and his form since that international break fully justifies Gareth Southgate's reasoning for including him previously and in the squad announced earlier this week.

Happy in possession, able to call upon a variety of passing styles and dogged in his defensive work, Winks is a certified Premier League player and another one off the conveyor belt.

He may be rested given the number of games he's played in recent weeks but his likely replacement's not bad either. Mousa Dembele, anyone?

Harry Kane

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What's there to say about Harry Kane that hasn't been said a million times? Unused superlatives are in short supply.

Perhaps the best English out and out striker since Alan Shearer; Kane, if he continues this goal scoring rate, is likely to go close to or indeed break Shearer's 260 Premier League goal record eventually.

A lot is said of Kane having to bide his time before being given a chance at Spurs and the number of loan spells he had away from the club. While it's important to note the difficulty that such a huge talent had in breaking through, the way in which Kane grabbed the opportunity is what should be judged and applauded. Talents, lauded far greater than Kane was before kicking a first team ball, have faded away from memory after being given a chance but not Kane. 

He's the real deal.

 

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