Spurs on an unbeaten run, just thumped the anointed champions, against a team in trouble with a new manager, who had recently just been stuffed by Spurs after handing them a defeat. Only one outcome really, as Spurs lost to Crystal Palace.
To go with the rather expected outcome was the expected poor performance that follows when they’re facing inferior competition, especially after giving the league leaders such a doing over just a league game earlier. It was poor.
First half was basically a non-event, home team playing the way that got their previous boss sacked and Spurs playing like they just had to turn up for the three points. Things not helped by Pochettino again bizarre choice of playing Rose and Townsend.
Townsend was part of the only real chance for Spurs in that opening 45, some say he played a cunning ball to Walker, some say if you give him enough footballs to kick he’ll get it right at least once. Walker’s cross deflected behind Eriksen who did well but couldn’t hit the target.
Very shortly after the break the customary Harry Kane goal came. A nice through pass from Dembele to Chadli, the latter Belgian then played it to Kane, it was stuck in his feet but he managed to get it free, while getting himself some space and finished it off like we are growing accustomed to.
For the most part Kane was quiet, heavily crowded out by Palace shirts. Dembele and Stambouli were coming in for most of the blame for Spurs not doing much. Lunacy shown when some claiming it would be better with Bentaleb in there. Well Palace weren’t running at ease straight through the middle of the park and passes were going forward, because nothing speeds up Spurs’ play like a Bentaleb back-pass.
After that opener Spurs complacency really kicked in. Instead of feeling like more was needed as they did with Chelsea, when because of the effort to get ahead and knowledge that a one goal lead is never enough more goals came, it was as if one was enough.
Stambouli again came in for the blame for the equaliser. Well he did something, he did so because it looked like no other player was going to and what is the alternative, well it’s Bentaleb letting players run past him like the Leicester equaliser.
From one angle it looked like a penalty from the other not so. Or so it seemed. From the ref’s point he saw the Palace player got the ball, which from the head on angle looked like Stambouli got. But that head on view showed that the Palace player was crumpling to the ground well before Stambouli got near touching him.
Some will then point to Fazio’s “push” on Gayle in the first half. Well for one it was outside of the area, so not a pen, secondly Gayle was going down before Fazio put his hand on him.
Things were compounded later when Kane went down after being tripped in the box. That was a foul, therefore a penalty. But the way Kane arched his flight to the ground while his legs scissored apart made it look like a dive. Maybe it’s something he learned while wearing that Woolwich shirt.
Before that Palace deserved to score what should have been the equaliser but ended up being the winner. They were well on top by then the complacency of the Spurs’ goal aftermath being replaced by panic and going to pieces after the penalty was scored.
While Pochettino’s substitutions were again head scratchers the introduction of Zaha by Palace was a game changer, as he ran rings round Walker for the last quarter of an hour. It was no surprise that something came from the flanks, with Rose and Walker as fullbacks it’s asking for it.
Zaha turned Walker this way and that as the defender looked like a dog out for a walk not knowing where or when his ball was going to be thrown. Clueless doesn’t quite cut it as a description of his defensive abilities.
The dribbling ball found it’s way to Puncheon who managed to score. Doesn’t seem so long ago that his missed penalty allowed Dimwood’s Spurs to beat Palace.
In truth Spurs had barely troubled Speroni in Palace’s goal while Lloris again showed his class with some goal saving… well saves – to go with a cowardly stamp on him. It was a standard Spurs performance following such a good run, especially so shortly after that Chelsea game. And so typical of Spurs to give Pardew the chance to be at his smuggest.