The starting line-ups revealed a certain Spurs Academy Graduate will be making his return to The Lane today, a few months on from being told to train with the under-21s due to no longer being a part of the gaffer’s plans. There’s no doubt he’ll be out to prove a point today, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he were to get on the score sheet. I’m willing to wait until he’s actually had a shot on goal to make a joke about hoping we’ve got a ball boy on the High Road, given the rather different look to The Lane for our final season here.
Theoretically, this game should be a straightforward three points, but Palace have proved tough opposition in the past.
Spurs seemed to have rid themselves of the early season rust, as the first whistle sounded and there was a bright start from the Lilywhites. New signing Vincent Janssen started where he left off against Everton last week, chasing every ball and constantly pressuring the opposition back four. But it was Palace who had the first, real chance. The ball fell to Jason Puncheon just inside the box, who’s shot thankfully went straight at Michel Vorm.
Palace looked dangerous whenever they broke forward, but the Spurs defence appeared to have fully woken up since being ripped apart for the first 45 minutes in Merseyside last week. Fit-again Jan Vertonghen was back to his usual, commanding self, intercepting passes and giving a no-nonsense approach to the Palace forwards.
Chances began to come for Spurs though, and with that, the lads began to dominate. Our first proper chance came from a Lamela corner on 11 minutes, a free header for Toby Alderweireld, which he could only direct straight at the keeper. A big chance, which you’d normally expect a player of the Belgian’s aerial prowess to put away without a problem.
After quarter of an hour, Kane combined beautifully with Janssen, but the latter cut in and put his effort over the bar. Exciting stuff. We might just be looking at the new Spurs!
Victor Wanyama looked impressive throughout the half, providing the muscle in our midfield and creating space for others. Palace won a corner, which was quickly intercepted and Eriksen sped away with the ball at his feet, dribbling to the edge of the opposing box, but hesitating for too long with options left and right. His eventual pass was easily cut out. Big chance missed. Not a great half overall for the Dane, who was quiet last week and seems to be struggling to maintain his form from last season.
Janssen continued to hold the ball up, chase everything down and generally cause havoc in the opponent’s half, and before long he slid Danny Rose in behind the Palace back four, who unfortunately couldn’t get a shot away before the ball was cleared for a corner. BIG chance for Spurs on the stroke of half time, as Harry Kane put a shot just wide from the edge of the box. Somehow goalless at half time.
The second half started and it was much of the same. “Signs of life here from Palace!” says the commentator who apparently hasn’t been watching the same game as the rest of us, they’ve been pretty decent so far.
Kane starts the half well, getting on the end of a glorious chance at the near post, but our captain for the day was simply unable to convert. The England forward was involved again a minute later, playing in Lamela down the left – A lot more promising. Another effort, this time on the half-volley from Kane ends up just over the bar, shortly followed by what would have been an exquisite ball over the top to send Lamela clean through, but the slightest touch from a Palace head is enough to send the ball behind for a corner.
At the other end, Andros Townsend was beginning to get a foothold in the game and his pace was becoming a problem for the Spurs defence. The former Spurs man found half-time substitute Yohan Cabaye in space in the penalty area, only for the Frenchman to blast the ball into the crowd. A sigh of relief from the home fans.
The sight of Dele Alli warming up seemed to spark Christian Eriksen into action, as he’d so far had a poor game. But fair play to him, he made a few successful passes and generally found a bit of form before being replaced by the number 20.
An instant impact from Dele as he sends Janssen through with only Hennessey to beat, SURELY THIS IS THE MOMENT? But the young Dutchman couldn’t find the composure, nor the bottom corner, and sends the ball wide. Another big chance gone.
It was quite an even game on the 70th minute mark, with the teams taking turns to create chances and the result looking like it could still go either way. A big improvement from Kane, and our star man had another effort on goal which was blocked shortly after it left his foot.
Spurs continued to play some great stuff, and the ball soon drops to Dele, who takes it first time but sends it narrowly over. Yet another chance comes our way, as some slick passing sends Rose into the area, he plays it into Janssen at the near post but the ball is put out for a corner. The corner is eventually taken as we head into the 83-minute mark following a lengthy stoppage. Lamela plays it in, its headed towards goal by Kane and NODDED IN BY WANYAMA! WE’VE SCORED! GIVE US THE LEAGUE TITLE NOW!
Okay, hyperbole aside, that goal was all that was missing from a superb performance. Palace head down the other end and win a corner in front of Park Lane, as a chorus of “Oh when the spurs…” echoes around The Lane. Wilfried Zaha continues to look dangerous with his pace and trickery, it has to be said that we struggled to deal with him today, and he nearly creates an equaliser but for a last ditch block from Vertonghen.
In the latter stages, Pochettino opts to introduce Josh Onomah and Tom Carroll to help us see the game out. Spurs win a free kick by the corner flag and Lamela attempts to kill some time, but overdoes it a little and puts the ball out for a goal kick. This is shortly followed by the Argentinian winger completely mugging off his former teammate, Andros Townsend, as he takes a leaf out of Dele’s book and slots the ball through the Palace winger’s legs.
The full time whistle is blown and Spurs have their first win of the season!
Between the sticks –
Michel Vorm: 7/10.
He didn’t have a huge amount to do, but pulled out all the stops – literally, whenever he was needed. Showed a commanding, confident presence behind the back four and showed supreme ability to come off his line.
Kyle Walker: 9/10.
Another superb display from our right back. Ran the lines all day.
Danny Rose: 8/10.
I’ll dock him points for starting poorly, but he improved dramatically, much like last week at Everton. Provided us with width and created a few chances, and was unlucky not to score himself in the first period.
Toby Alderweireld: 9/10.
Superb, as ever. A calm presence in our back four, and nearly created an opening goal in the first few minutes with a marauding run forward.
Jan Vertonghen: 8/10.
Much, much improved from last week. Dealt with Palace’s pace and looked very near to his best, impressive considering he’s fresh from a nasty injury and hasn’t had much recovery time from the Euros.
Eric Dier – 7/10.
A little overshadowed by the performance of his midfield colleague, Wanyama, but still put in a decent performance. Provided extra physicality in the middle of the park but was booked late on.
Victor Wanyama: 9/10.
Seems to be very much finding his feet in our first team! A fantastic performance, Dembele might struggle to win a place at this rate. Scored the winning goal, and bullied the opponents all afternoon. Looking a great signing so far.
Christian Eriksen: 6/10.
I wasn’t looking forward to this bit, as the Dane is obviously a fan favourite. But he was poor today. Seemed very off the pace, and although he improved a bit in the second half, bringing him off was completely justified. I’m not denying that he is a vital component to our first choice side, but he’s certainly had better days.
Erik Lamela: 9/10.
Another fine day at the office for the young Argentine. Skilful, quick, physical, and his hair was looking as magnificent as ever. Maybe he could’ve done a bit more with the free kick in stoppage time but that was all I could find fault with in his performance. He certainly put in the performance we needed from him, given how Eriksen played.
Harry Kane: 8/10.
A little on the quiet side for most of the first period. But he dropped back and helped to link up the play, and most importantly he seems to be gelling nicely with his new strike partner. Very unlucky not to score, but the goals will come.
Vincent Janssen: 9/10.
Wow, what a performance! He was only a goal away from getting the full 10 marks today. His hold up play was sensational, his pressing was excellent and he even came back to do a shift in his own half. Some decent tackling too. The lack of goals so far is a concern, as you don’t have to go too far back in our history to find another foreign forward who started well but was unlucky in front of goal. But I’m sure they’ll come.
Dele Alli: 8/10.
Much improved on last week! He was unlucky not to get an assist, and a goal. Improved us a lot when he came on, so it’s great to see him back near his best.
Josh Onomah: 7/10.
Came on late and did a fine job. He even helped out in defence.
Tom Carroll: 6/10.
Another latecomer, and was only given a couple of minutes. Did what he needed to do.
Man of The Match:
Victor Wanyama. Home Debut, winning goal, bullied the opposition all afternoon. What more do you want? A key player for us this season.
Liverpool at home in the Premier League. Saturday 27th August 2016. Kick off at 12:30.
A very difficult fixture for us, with two managers who favour similar styles. The teams couldn’t be separated during the last two games, and it might well be the same next week. But it’s universally known that Liverpool still have a dodgy defence, and if we can exploit that area of the pitch then we could nick all three points.