Premier League: 5 keys to Crystal Palace vs Spurs

Next up sees a trip to Selhurst Park for Crystal Palace vs Spurs in the Premier League, but just what will Alan Pardew have in store for us?

A trip to Crystal Palace is never easy. Roared on by one of the most vocal supports in the Premier League, Selhurst Park is always a difficult place to go. Throw in that the Eagles have a new manger and with players trying to impress, this will be a stern test.

Alan Pardew finds himself taking over a team sitting in the relegation places and needing to turn around their form, fast.

So, what can we expect and what should we be on the lookout for in Crystal Palace vs Spurs this time?

1. 4-3-3?

Alan Pardew used a number of formations at Newcastle. 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 were all on the menu.

His 4-3-3 formation was often the most interesting, but he didn’t get the chance to use it as much as he would’ve liked. We only really saw it get much of an airing when he had Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, as he liked to combine a winger with two strikers.

Early indications from his line-up at Dover in the FA Cup last weekend could point to Pardew re-vitalising that formation at Crystal Palace.

The new manager’s first line-up saw him combine a front three of Dwight Gayle and Wilfried Zaha flanking Glen Murray. Just like at Newcastle, it was two forwards and a winger who is good at dribbling and delivering the ball.


Palace’s 4-3-3 shape.

The side was set up to cross and before taking the lead from Zaha’s ball in to the box, they had already peppered the Dover penalty area. These were crosses that were both in the air and over the ground, as they sought to get in to wide positions to deliver.

After the first arrived from the winger’s lofted cross, the second came from a different type of ball in to the box as they converted a corner. Pardew likes his teams to put the ball in to the penalty area from wide areas and the 4-3-3 allows him to do this.

What the 4-3-3 also permits him is to get a trio in to midfield, another key area for the game on Saturday.

2. Battle of the middle ground

We all know too well for a while that the way to stifle this Tottenham team is to congest the middle of the field and sit back. Crystal Palace did this in their last trip to the Lane, as we failed to play around their stifling centre.

The Eagles played a 4-5-1 and got Jedinak, Ledley and McArthur in here to stop us playing through this zone with our inverted wide players trying to come inside. A 0-0 game ensued that lacked creativity.


Palace’s midfield trio.

That match saw Neil Warnock in charge, but Alan Pardew is also a wily old manager who knows this too. His Newcastle side also tried to pack and congest the centre, something they did well in Spurs 1 Newcastle 2 at the Lane.


Nacer Chadli is crowded out of the middle.

However, recognising this from the first game, Mauricio Pochettino changed tack in detonating the Magpies in the Capital One Cup. The game finished Spurs 4 Newcastle 0 and our head coach overran this area with bodies to outnumber Pardew’s side in here.


Spurs overloading the centre.

The battle for the middle ground will be something to keep an eye on in Crystal Palace vs Spurs this Saturday. Just how Pardew and Pochettino try and control this zone will be fascinating to watch. Each manager has taken a game apiece by flooding it, so whoever controls this zone will have an excellent chance of winning the match and three vital Premier League points.

3. Conceding through the centre

Where to attack will be one of the key Tottenham tactics in Crystal Palace vs Spurs this weekend.

This season, the Eagles have been particularly vulnerable to conceding goals to chances created from going through the centre. Our best chance in the 0-0 draw at the Lane arrived this way, as Eriksen played in Soldado.


Soldado gets in through the centre.

At Newcastle though, Pardew’s side were always susceptible to conceding goals through the full back areas, particularly the right back zone. This is where three of our four goals arrived from in the 4-0 drubbing of his side in the Capital One Cup game.

However, Pardew’s team were also vulnerable when they paired Fabricio Coloccini with Mike Williamson. The reason being that Coloccini would always come towards the ball and attempt to intercept, whereas Williamson was a reactive defender and would always drop off.

This gave them trouble in the mauling at White Hart Lane, especially on our fourth goal. Williamson was caught deep playing Soldado onside, allowing him to hoover up the rebound off the keeper.


Williamson plays Soldado onside.

Just where Alan Pardew’s new side will be susceptible to conceding will be something to watch for in Crystal Palace vs Spurs this time. Playing 4-3-3 will allow Pardew to give cover for their shaky centre back pairing, so the vulnerability may once more be in the full back zones.

4. Attacking down the left

Something that was consistent with Pardew’s Newcastle side in his first Palace set-up was his propensity to attack down the left. Three of Palace’s four goals against Dover arrived from this side, as Pardew used his wide forwards to get up the pitch to cross or shoot.

Their first arrived from Zaha’s cross from this flank. Their third came from Dwight Gayle running down the left on to Barry Bannan’s through ball. The fourth was added when Jerome Thomas, who had come on for Gayle, got in down this side to cross for Kevin Doyle to stab home.


Thomas gets in-behind to cross for Doyle.

Pardew likes going at this flank, as we saw in the Premier League match at the Lane that his side won 2-1. The infamous goal from the second half restart saw Sammy Ameobi run in-behind Eric Dier down the left to score. Ayoze Perez then headed them in front from Remy Cabella’s cross from the same flank.


Cabella crosses from the left for Perez.

This makes the Tottenham tactics for Crystal Palace vs Spurs key on who we have on our right side to defend against Pardew’s penchant for attacking down the left. Kyle Walker’s pace should be a valuable asset here, but Pochettino’s choice of player in front of him will be equally as key.

5. Set pieces

Set pieces will be another vital battleground in Crystal Palace vs Spurs for both sides.

We have had a bit of a renaissance in set pieces this season, but the Eagles have been consistently good. They were always a strong side in this phase of the game under Tony Pulis and continued to be so for Neil Warnock. So, it was no surprise to see them convert a corner in Alan Pardew’s first game in charge.

Pardew does set his side up at corners slightly differently to his predecessors. Warnock was a man who liked to get bodies around the goalkeeper and get the ball into this area to create maximum confusion.


Warnock – Crystal Palace corner crowding the keeper.

Pardew is more of a spacing kind of guy and likes to cover across the six-yard box with just one man on the keeper and getting his players open through movement.


Scott Dann’s movement gets him open vs Dover.

Their set piece goal at Dover last weekend saw them do just this, as Scott Dann curled his run from the edge of the penalty area to meet the ball with perfect timing.

The Tottenham tactics for Crystal Palace vs Spurs need to be aware of the threat the Eagles pose from set pieces.

However, it won’t all be one-way; we will also be a danger from these too. Our first goal against Pardew’s Newcastle side in the Capital One Cup mauling arrived from a set piece and having notched seven times from dead ball situations, we will also be a threat.

What’s more Palace have conceded the fourth most chances from set pieces in the Premier League. so there will be opportunities for us from corners and free kicks for us too.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs outlook

Selhurst Park is a difficult place to go, but it will be doubly so with a new manager and players looking to impress. Add on to this a very vocal support and it will require a very strong and determined Tottenham display to pull this one out.

Spurs will need to be resolute early to quieten the crowd, but Pardew faces issues of his own. He will be without his best ball winner and highly under-rated midfielder in Mile Jedinak. He will also be without one of his most dangerous attacking weapons in Yannick Bolasie. This could make it a good time to play Palace given the absence of these two.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs prediction: Crystal Palace 1 Spurs 2.

Crystal Palace vs Spurs betting

Fresh off collecting on Nacer Chadli to be first goalscorer at Burnley in the FA Cup Monday night, here a few wagers for you:

Spurs to win 2-1 at 9/1 with BetVictor

Christian Eriksen first goalscorer at 8/1 with Betfair

HT/FT: Draw/Tottenham at 9/2 with 888sport

Harry Kane to score anytime at 11/10 with Betway


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4 Responses to Premier League: 5 keys to Crystal Palace vs Spurs

  1. Bretto 9th January 2015 at 8:42 pm #

    Nice article. Thanks. I wonder how much Pardew will try to change for this match. Warnock tended to play compact, deep and counter a lot and Pardew likes a to play with a fair bit of width. He obviously got them to do more of that against Dover but will he do the same for a premier league game? Not sure.

    A bit sad that Mason & Bentaleb are not available. With Jedinak down here in Oz, it would be interesting to see whether Palace could hold the centre together like last time. As an Aussie, I’m oh so biased, but Mile Jedinak is just an absolute machine at the moment. (He organises them in defence, he keeps the ball ticking over, he scores – I’m just glad that Wenger does not have the foresight to pick him up. The gooners would be flying with him in midfield.)

    I would like to think that without Jedinak and with Pardew tending to play with more width, the centre may not be so strong this time. Perhaps with Stambouli and Demebele (if Dembele decides not to sit too long with the ball and play more attacking with dribbles and passes) we could really boss the centre this time.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th January 2015 at 9:27 am #

      Great post Bretto. Jedinak is really a key loss and a midfield combination of Stambouli and Dembele could well overpower Palace’s midfield without him. It’s a shame we don’t have Bentaleb, as he would have been excellent here. It’s a key player lost for both teams, but i think we are in a better position to deal with it.

  2. anotherwisemonkey 9th January 2015 at 9:13 pm #

    Eriksen is a good punt for first goalscorer, but I reckon he’ll assist Kane.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 10th January 2015 at 9:29 am #

      He may well set one up for Kane, hence the saver on him to score anytime. Eriksen’s netted in our last two Premier League away games and is a decent price to open the scoring here.