SATURDAY 20TH AUGUST, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) CRYSTAL PALACE 0(0)
Referee:- Michael Oliver
Assistants:- G. Beswick & S. Burt
Fourth official:- D. Bond
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vorm; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Wanyama; Eriksen (sub Alli, 68), Kane (Capt.) (sub Onomah, 90), Lamela (sub Carroll, 90+5); Janssen
(Armband to Vertonghen)
Subs not used:- McGee; Carter-Vickers, Davies; Mason
Booked:- Walker (foul on Zaha), Vertonghen (foul on Lee), Dier (foul on Lee)
Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1):- Hennessey; Ward, Dann (Capt.), Delaney (sub Tomkins, 82), Soare; Puncheon, Ledley (sub Cabaye, 46); Zaha, Lee (sub Mutch, 82), Townsend; Wickham
Subs not used:- Speroni; Kelly, Anderson, Ladapo
Booked:- Zaha (foul on Alderweireld), Dann (foul on Janssen), Townsend (Dissent)
Wanyama the "Victor"!
Making his home debut, Spurs midfielder Victor Wanyama won the hearts of home fans with a crucial 82nd minute header, which broke the deadlock in a well-fought London derby match, and left Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace side pointless after two games. The goal came at a time when a draw looked on the cards, which would have also made it a disappointing start for Spurs. The four point return from the opening two games is a respectable one, leaving us well placed behind the four teams that have won both games, and Everton, who are ahead on goals scored only.
With the exception of the injured Lloris, I had anticipated an unchanged starting line-up, but Pochettino rang the changes with Vincent Janssen leading the line, and Harry Kane playing behind him in the centre of the midfield three. It was Dele Alli who made way, with the manager explaining that Dele had not been 100% this week. Mauricio also said that with Champions League commitments coming (next month), he also needed to "manage the minutes"
For Palace, Christian Benteke had not been signed in time to play, but of course, former Spur Andros Townsend returned to The Lane for the first time and was determined to impress. Townsend's ultimate frustration led to a late second half booking when he got upset with the assistant referee after getting the worse of former fellow Spurs Academy player Danny Rose. Townsend tried his luck on both sides of the field and had more success in the second half, offering more than one good chance, especially one to second half substitute Cabaye, who scooped the offered pass well over the target. Townsend fell to his knees and banged the floor in his frustration.
Neither goalkeeper was sorely tested to tell the truth. I recall Vorm making a good first half save and demonstrating full competence in the second half, whilst Spurs' chances generally went wide of Hennessy's goal.
The game was well-contested with every ball being fought for in the midfield. For Spurs there were several good performances. Some fans had doubts about the wisdom of playing both Dier and Wanyama, but of the two, Wanyama impressed most. They switched sides and Victor got forward to good effect working with Danny Rose on the left in the first half. Towards the end of the game, Dier looked fatigued, as did Kane who was replaced just before the five minutes of added time.
Vincent Janssen has been described as Spurs man of the match by the BBC website, and he certainly looked lively throughout, impressing this observer for one!
The weather was mixed with rain always a threat, and a blustery wind, allowed more access of course, due to the gap in the north-east corner, where parts of the stands in that corner have been demolished.
Spurs won the toss and kicked off towards the Park Lane End. Palace were lively from the start and Vertonghen made a good tackle on Zaha, but the ball still ran to Puncheon, whose shot was well saved by Vorm. Spurs won an early corner after good work by Alderweireld getting forward, and a cross from the right. Both referee Michael Oliver and his assistant were waiting for each other to make a decision!
One of those forays by Rose and Wanyama resulted in a cross by Victor, held by Hennessey. Wanyama was involved again, feeding the ball to the right wing. The resulting cross was fielded by Kane, and fed to Lamela, who won a corner. From the corner, Alderweirleld's header was half-saved, then cleared. Kane also had a shot saved from an inside-left position.
Kane controlled a ball well in the middle, before teeing up Janssen, who shot wide, without testing the keeper.
Palace had a couple of corners left and right after 17 minutes, and Danny Rose stole the ball off Puncheon after the second of these. Eriksen was sent clear and made a run deep into the Palace half, with both Kane and Janssen available on his left and right. Eriksen chose to shoot, and weakly, with the ball being half-blocked and easily picked up by Hennessey. To be honest, this was not the only time Eriksen disappointed. He "bottles" out of midfield challenges (unlike the ever industrious Erik Lamela ), and too often today, his final ball was not good enough. I would have brought on Alli much earlier.
Wanyama won a corner on the left, and met the corner with a header which passed just over the target. Lamela was fouled about 25 yards out after 21 minutes, and took the free kick himself. The attempt was blocked. Janssen fed a ball back to Dier, who had a shot deflected for another corner.
There were plenty of battles taking place all over the field in a lively game.
Zaha got a booking after one passage of play in which the referee allowed a Spurs forward move to continue. The booking was for a bad foul on Alderweireld. Harry Kane had a shot saved by Hennessey diving to his left. Janssen tried to follow-up, but the best Spurs could get from the situation was a corner. Dier headed the corner wide at the near post. Kane and Janssen made one or two neat advances in tandem.
The energy began to sap from the game as half-time loomed. Janssen put in Danny Rose, advancing into the left side of the box, but Danny had the ball swiped off his feet just as he was going to "pull the trigger". In added time, Kane fired wide after a move by Eriksen and Lamela.
Pardew made a half-time substitution of Cabaye for Ledley, no doubt seeking more creativity.
Dier had an early angled shot from the right blocked, and Eriksen had a cross/shot easily held by Hennessey after Kyle Walker's pass. Cabaye fired wide after 53 minutes, and then at the other end Harry Kane seemed to be pushed in the back as he headed Eric Dier's ball just wide. The referee saw no foul.
Soon after, Dier was block-tackled and the ball ran to Harry Kane, who hit a decent shot just over the bar. Townsend got into the right-hand side of the box and passed low to Cabaye, but this was the chance he scooped over. Soon after an attempted clearance by Dier fell to Townsend, who hit a shot which itself was deflected and looped out for a corner.
After an hour, Mr Oliver saw fit to show more yellow cards, with Palace skipper Dann booked for stopping Janssen in his tracks, and Vertonghen punished for a foul on Chung-Yong Lee.
Eriksen was replaced by Alli after 68 minute, and Dele's first touch almost led to a Spurs goal. He was on the end of a good move by Harry Kane and Erik Lamela, threading a great ball ahead of Janssen who pushed his shot wide.
After 78 minutes, Spurs advanced down the right-hand side through Walker and Lamela. A ball to Wanyama was blocked but fell to Alli, whose right foot shot passed just over. Harry Kane fed a ball to Danny Rose whose cross to the near post was defended for a corner. Delaney was injured in making the clearance, and there was some delay before the corner could be taken, with Pardew making two substitutions for Delaney and Lee. This proved to be unhelpful to the visitors as Lamela's cross was headed on by Kane, and headed home by Wanyama.
Palace were desperate to get on terms, and Spurs had to defend stoutly. Joel Ward met a Townsend corner at the near post, but put the ball wide. Ultimately, the only real problem Spurs had in five minutes of added time was the need for Vorm to hold a Wickham shot.
I feel that the Spurs win was deserved, but this was certainly a game which could have been drawn, and I was preparing to live with that result.
We meet Liverpool next Saturday lunch-time, which promises to be another cracker. Liverpool lost at Burnley today, so will come to White Hart Lane below us in the league, seemingly with a dodgy defence which has leaked five goals in their first two games.
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