Nov 5, 2017

Subpar Spurs eke out victory they absolutely needed over stubborn Palace: match report and link roundup

A weakened Tottenham Hotspur narrowly defeated Crystal Palace at Wembley today, grabbing the must-win game on a late goal by Heung Min Son. It was an unimpressive victory by Tottenham that easily could have come very different had it not been for the heroics of their goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, given his first ever start due to injuries to Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm. With the win Spurs move equal on points, for now, with second-placed Manchester United.

Besides the surprise start by the Argentine goalkeeper, Spurs were also without Dele Alli. Harry Kane, though in the starting 11, was clearly not at full strength either and made way for Fernando Llorente in the second half. Harry Winks appeared to pick up a knock in the first half and was pulled at halftime for Moussa Dembele. Update: Winks twisted his ankle and could miss England’s friendlies, the Evening Standard reports. That substitution did pay immediate dividends as Spurs were able to take the initiate right after the restart.

It wouldn’t last. Serge Aurier, back in the starting lineup after Kieran Trippier was so impressive against Real Madrid at midweek, gave the ball away and Palace nearly scored on the counter. It was not the first such error by Aurier, who was bailed out by Gazzaniga on both occasions. Indeed there is a strong case for the Argentine as man of the match in this one.

Spurs finally got the goal off a bit of a scramble in the Palace penalty area. When the ball came to Son at the edge of the 18-yard box, he placed a superb shot into the right corner of the net. Crystal Palace never really threatened after that. They do deserve credit for a strong defensive game, particularly in the first half when they frustrated Tottenham. Spurs were clearly not at their best; missing Alli, with Son playing poorly until his goal (several misplaced first touches) and Christian Eriksen still a ways off from peak Eriksen. Danny Rose, given his first start since return from injury, got better as the game wore on and was able to launch several attacks on the left flank. His return will give Spurs’ offense the additional threat on that side of the pitch. Ben Davies is a nice player, perfectly fine for the Wales national team, but he simply cannot produce that element.

In the end Spurs get the required win, but not without a not insignificant struggle. Palace did not look like relegation fodder and can be expected to move up the table if their form continues. Tottenham now have new injuries to worry about. No sooner are Rose and Dembele fit that Alli and (perhaps) Kane and Winks go down. Kane would obviously be the biggest blow so that is one situation Spurs fans will be monitoring very closely. Perhaps the two-week international break comes at a good time for Spurs then. They looked like they needed the rest.

Tottenham brought back down to earth — Independent
Second half Son strike gives Tottenham three points — Cartilage Free Captain
Son strikes as Tottenham squeeze past Crystal Palace — ESPNFC
Spurs win, but clash reveals continuing problem for Mauricio Pochettino — Metro
Gazzaniga emotional after impressive debut —
Gazzaniga heroics backed up by Son strike - FourFourTwo
Five talking points — Mirror
Five things you missed — Daily MailTwitter reacts to Dele Alli’s stunning girlfriend — The Sun
Son spares Spurs’ blushes after Zaha spurns golden chance — Telegraph
Son strike seals laboured Tottenham win over Crystal Palace — Guardian
Paulo Gazzaniga and Wilfried Zaha the pick of the bunch at Wembley — Independent player ratings
Mousa Dembele sums up Tottenham's week in four-word tweet; Harry Kane among teammates to also comment — HITC

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