Premier League 17/18 Week 28: Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Spurs cross the Thames in search of three points when they travel to South London to face an Eagles team swamped with problems
12:00 GMT, Sunday 25th February, Selhurst Park (London, England) Sky Sports
With a crippling injury list and a run of four games without a win, the Eagles limp into this weekend’s London derby. Having lost each of their last five Premier League matches against Spurs, the history books offer little comfort too. Having battled their way back from injuries and poor form already this season, it would be unwise to discount this Palace side being ably managed by local boy, Roy Hodgson.
The other London side in this fixture are enjoying far better fortunes. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unbeaten this calendar year and have claimed an impressive array of scalps along the way. Spurred on yet again by Harry Kane’s goals, it is the teamwork from this side which has helped to push them back up to within a point of the top-four positions. Unbeaten in their last nine games, five wins and five clean sheets during this time have proved a good start to the final run in their season, however, Pochettino will hope that this is only a jumping-off-point from which to build towards glory and a win this weekend will continue this impressive momentum.
Last Time Out
Everton 3-1 Crystal Palace (Premier League)
The Eagles fell to only their third defeat in sixteen league games with a battling performance that was undone by a slow start to the second half. It was the home team which showed the most adventure during the opening 45 minutes, however, Palace rarely looked in real trouble and defended stoically. With Everton’s main threats limited to set-pieces and shots from distance, the organisation instilled in the team by Hodgson appeared to be enough to ensure a good result.
However, two goals in the first six minutes of the second half destroyed that very notion. Left chasing the match, Palace were unable to cause any real danger themselves and the Toffees scored a third after catching the Eagles out as the game became more stretched. There was a consolation goal for Palace when Luka Milivojevic converted a late penalty but it proved too little, too late for the Eagles to make a comeback.
Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur (FA Cup)
The fifth round of the FA Cup delivered it’s first shock on Sunday afternoon when a late goal from the ‘Dale’s Steve Davies clinched a replay for his team at Wembley. Whether through complacency or a lack of cohesion between several periphery players who rarely start for Spurs together, Tottenham failed to spark into life during the first half.
Trailing the League One side 1-0 during the interval, Spurs came out fighting after half-time. Tottenham finished the game with 65% of possession and 15 shots taken to Rochdale’s 6, however, Harry Kane’s late penalty failed to finish off their dogged opponents. Lucas Moura provided Pochettino with the biggest positive of the afternoon, taking a deserved goal from his impressive debut that saw him looking far sharper and hungrier than most of his colleagues who will now replay this tie on Wednesday evening.
Crystal Palace Lineup
With a list of absentees which includes Martin Kelly (hamstring) Wilfried Zaha (knee) Jeffrey Schlupp (foot) Scott Dann (knee) Julian Speroni (knee) Mamadou Sakho (calf) Joel Ward (knock) Jason Puncheon (knee) Ruben Loftus-Cheek (ankle) Connor Wickham (knee) Yohan Cabaye (thigh) and Bakary Sako (ankle), Palace will be seriously compromised in their options this weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur Lineup
Pochettino has no major injury concerns ahead of this match although Toby Alderweireld cut short a training session earlier this week and may not be risked in this match.
Key Battle: Alexander Sørloth (Palace) vs Heung-Min Son (Tottenham)
Having enjoyed a good debut playing wide-left in place of the injured Zaha, Sørloth will look to build on his fine start this weekend. Strong in the air, the new signing will also add a threat to set-pieces and will prove a threat to the Tottenham back-line throughout this game. It remains to be seen whether he can quickly adapt to the increased standard of Premier League football, however, the early indications were very encouraging.
On the left wing for Tottenham, Pochettino now faces a big decision in whether to start Lucas Moura who made a solid impression last weekend or go with the reliable Heung-Min Son who has been consistent throughout this season. Having started every Premier League match since the first Arsenal meeting back in mid-November, Son should be the preferred choice. The Korean international has not only been consistent, he’s also been playing at a heightened level this season and shows no signs of slowing down yet.
Rarely has a team suffered as much with injuries in a season as Palace are experiencing. With 12 first-team players missing this weekend, 7 of which were playing regularly towards the end of last year, Roy Hodgson joked that he now needs to carry a list around with him to remind him of exactly who is unavailable.
Having missed out on several of his transfer targets last month, Hodgson will have good reason to feel further frustration in his current predicament. This lack of investment could prove a huge hurdle for a side who have already fought back from adversity at the beginning of this season and it would be unfair on Hodgson if these injuries undermined all of his previous good work in South-West London.
Slowly but surely
By contrast to Palace’s injury nightmare, Spurs have almost a clean bill of health this weekend. Despite much of the media reporting at the start of the season on the perceived lack of depth in this Tottenham team, Pochettino now has more options than many of his counterparts as he heads into the critical phase of the season.
Part of the reason for this lack of injury could be due to the way Spurs take a cautious approach to reintroducing injured players back into the side. Alderweireld is highly unlikely to feature this weekend due to a slight strain as he continues to battle back from a hamstring problem he suffered in November. To get his players back to peak condition, Pochettino will need to give them minutes on the pitch, however, especially with injuries that involve muscular problems, too much, too soon can have serious consequences.
Erik Lamela, Danny Rose, Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama have all received similar treatment this season and in each case, no player has suffered any notable relapses after making their way back into the first squad.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur
Hodgson had an injury crisis to contend with when he arrived at Selhurst Park in mid-September but this time the stakes appear higher. Tottenham are a team peaking and they will be keen not to see a repeat of the lack in ruthlessness which failed to kill off Rochdale last weekend which could spell bad news for the home team.