Tottenham Hotspur vs Crystal Palace
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Andre Marriner
On the 14th May 2017, a Harry Kane goal early in the second half proved to be winning goal in the last game to be played at White Hart Lane, and now after months of delays, over 700 days after that victory over United, Spurs are heading home.
You can almost hear it now; “We‘re coming home. We’re coming home. We’re coming…Spurs are coming home!“. Joining them in their showcase opening of their new stadium are London rivals from south of the river, Crystal Palace.
In terms of recent Premier League records, Spurs couldn’t have asked for a better fixture to open their new stadium, as they have won all of the last seven meetings in the top flight with the Eagles – with six of them resulting in the same scoreline of 1-0. They have all been close and cagey affairs though with none of the Spurs goals coming before the hour mark. In the reverse fixture in November, it was a very rare goal from young defender Juan Foyth which proved decisive. However, it has not gone all Spurs’ way in recent weeks.
Tottenham beat Leicester City 3-1 on the 10th February, and that has since proved to be their last victory in the league having failed to pick up a win in the following five matches, losing four of them and drawing the other one – the latest of which was that disheartening defeat to Liverpool. One of those four defeats came against a side that is not one of their top six rivals in Southampton, something that has not usually happened for Spurs, having only dropped points on two other occasions against sides outside the traditional ‘top six’ (defeats to Watford and Burnley).
This poor recent form has meant that they have lost their place in the top three, dropping out for the first time since the first week of December. To exacerbate their miseries, the team they lost that place to was their bitter rivals Arsenal, a team they were ten points clear of at the start of February. The good news for the Lilywhites is due to Manchester United’s loss to Wolves last night, they remain in a Champions League spot, yet if they mess up on Wednesday night, Chelsea will be waiting to pounce as they host Brighton at Stamford Bridge.
Palace on the other hand, have hit a good run of form, having only lost twice in the last eight games. The good form can be seen especially in their performances away from home. In the six away games they’ve played in the league since the 22nd December, they have won four of them, including impressive wins against Wolves and Leicester City, and a famous victory at the Etihad. The only points they’ve dropped on their travels was with a draw against Southampton, which followed a thrilling 4-3 defeat at Anfield.
More importantly for the Eagles is that after their home victory to Huddersfield Town, that resigned the Terriers to life in the Championship next season, they jumped back into 13th in the league and also eight points clear of 18th placed Cardiff City. A points gap that could prove vital over the next few weeks as the Eagles face some very difficult away games against Tottenham, Newcastle United and Arsenal, as well as the small task of welcoming the Champions Manchester City to Selhurst Park. Fortunately for Palace, these are away from home, as their home form is pretty atrocious compared to their away form, so they could actually do quite well in those games.
Kieran Trippier looks likely to retain his right-back spot as Serge Aurier is set to miss the game after sustaining a hamstring injury whilst away on international duty with the Ivory Coast, which also kept him out of the defeat to Liverpool. Likewise, Eric Dier, who injured his hip on England duty will likely not feature against Palace.
Two further players were revealed to be ruled out of the showpiece event thanks to a Tuesday press release as Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente have sustained a hamstring injury and concussion respectively.
There is better news concerning Harry Winks though, who as of the 2nd April, had returned to full training from his injury. Another Harry will be looking to improve on his record against the Eagles, which stands at three goals in nine league appearances for top scorer Harry Kane.
Roy Hodgson confirmed in a press conference that the only player that would be unavailable for selection for him is Mamadou Sakho, who is still recovering from surgery on his knee. So, it will simply be any tactical rotation that effects the line-up Hodgson will go with.
A few days after a game which became less taxing the longer it went on, Hodgson could field the same XI at Spurs on Wednesday. Considering the form of the frontline, especially that of Wilfried Zaha and Michy Batshuayi, it is unlikely that either would make way for the likes of Christian Benteke or Jordan Ayee. The defence is pretty much set in stone at this point too, especially with the lack of numbers for the centre-back cover. Alongside this, Vincente Guaita redeemed himself greatly after his mistake-ridden display in Palace’s cup exit to Watford.
The most likely place that could see rotation is in the midfield with the possibility of Cheikou Kouyaté replacing James McArthur in order to supply some more defensive strength to counter the way Spurs will flood the midfield with the likes of Sissoko, Alli and Eriksen.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Eriksen, Alli, Davies; Son, Kane
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Dann, van Aanholt; Kouyaté, Milivojević, Schlupp; Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha
Score Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Crystal Palace 0
Harry Kane will be desperate to be the first goalscorer at the new White Hart Lane and it’s always 1-0 to Spurs in this fixture it seems. There is more than a possibility of an upset however with the result in the cup and the form that both sides are in currently, plus at a new stadium, you never know who will settle better. Palace have won alternate games in the last seven, and with having won last time out against Huddersfield Town, surely that means that they’re not winning this one, right?