Spurs vs Crystal Palace: how to ground the Eagles

Spurs vs Crystal Palace is up next in the Premier League, so we look at how to take down the Eagles.

Eight wins out of ten is Alan Pardew’s record on the road in the Premier League since taking over the Eagles. He has made his side extremely tough to beat away from home with his team setup to benefit from playing away. So, what can we expect and what should we be on the lookout for in Spurs vs Crystal Palace this time?

How Crystal Palace concede chances

Alan Pardew’s side are strong and resilient, outworking and often outplaying teams, but they don’t keep that many clean sheets. Their opponents do create chances against them and they usually come from two different areas.

The first area is by getting straight on to and behind their centre backs. They way Pardew sets his side up, Crystal Palace often leave space between their lines of midfield and defence. Take their last away match at Chelsea, which shows how this happens.


Crystal Palace defensive position.

The reason that this space often opens up is that Pardew has his midfield, especially Yohan Cabaye and his partner at the base, press the ball when it comes in to their half. The back four do not squeeze up behind them, preferring to play reactive defence to stay goal side and this leaves areas to get players in to.


Space between the lines as midfielders close on the ball.

The midfield swarms the Chelsea man, but the back four holds its position. The Blues didn’t get to grips with this, but last weekend Man City did. The Citizens had their strikers come short and occupy the area between the lines and had a player bursting past them and in to the space beyond or through the centre backs.

Samir Nasri had an excellent chance when put through one-on-one against the Palace keeper by Yaya Toure after going beyond Sergio Aguero and Wilfried Bony.


Nasri runs in-behind as City get players between the lines.

They would score the only goal of the game after Nasri got himself free between the lines and fired a shot at Alex McCarthy. The keeper could only parry the cross-goal effort, but Kelechi Iheanacho was first to the loose ball having run through the centre backs.


Nasri loose between the lines again.

The second way Crystal Palace have given up chances is to teams that can get down the outsides of their full backs.

Arsenal were the first team to beat Crystal Palace this season and favoured this approach to attacking the Eagles. Full backs Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal played extremely high and peppered the box for Olivier Giroud.


Arsenal create chances from the Palace RB zone.

In Palace’s last away game Chelsea struggled to get between the lines, but they did score and create other chances from getting in-behind in the full back zones.


Chelsea chances created vs Crystal Palace.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Crystal Palace should look to see us continue with our game of running our wide forwards off Harry Kane. The striker has been coming short to open up space for others to run beyond him and this should favour the likes of Son Heung-Min and Nacer Chadli.

Getting in to the full back zones could be tricky given the lack of attacking intent shown by Kyle Walker and Ben Davies recently. The more forward thinking and better crosser in Kieran Trippier and the athletic raids of Danny Rose would be more suited here.

Stopping Palace’s chance creation

Alan Pardew’s side are perfectly setup to play on the counter attack away from home. They have a ton of speed up top with Zaha, Bolasie, Puncheon and Bakary Sako. All are powerful runners with the ball and have a trick up their sleeve.

Pardew’s approach is simple but difficult to stop, especially since they have added Yohan Cabaye who is able to move the ball quickly and often over distance to them. Once possession is moved out in to wide areas, Crystal Palace become a crossing team. These crosses can be in the air or across the ground through cutbacks or pullbacks, but are aimed in to the box where the wide player cutting in from the other side joins the striker.

Yannick Bolasie’s cameo at Chelsea that changed and won the game for the Eagles highlighted Palace’s attacking approach on the road perfectly.

The ball was moved quickly to him and he went past Branislav Ivanovic like he wasn’t there. Once at the box he pulled the ball back across the penalty area where Connor Wickham was joined by Bakary Sako cutting in from the wide position on the other side to fire home.


Sako joins the striker in the box from the other side.

Palace’s winner was remarkably similar. This time Zouma and Ivanovic had switched roles, but it didn’t matter. Bolasie beat him with a quick shift of his feet and crossed towards the back post where Sako had again cut in from the other wing. Sako touched the ball back for Joel Ward who had burst up the pitch and assumed the role of the centre forward.


Bolasie picks out Sako cutting in again and Ward scores.

Bolasie’s passes received during the match show how Palace try and work the ball quickly forward to their wide players, often over distance. Bolasie also got himself in to the box to receive a cross that he should of scored from, highlighting how the wide players pinch in to become secondary forwards when the ball is on the other side.


Yannick Bolasie passes received vs Chelsea.

The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Crystal Palace will need to see us defend well in the wide areas, something teams that have beaten the Eagles have done.

Defending wide areas

The two teams that have beaten Crystal Palace this season, Man City and Arsenal, have both defended well in wide areas.

Arsenal did an excellent job of defending their left side as Alexis Sanchez and Nacho Monreal worked back extremely hard.


Arsenal defensive actions vs Crystal Palace.

Manchester City also defended their flanks well, as Crystal Palace again went the majority of times down the City left, but ran in to Kolorov and Nasri.


Man City defensive actions vs Crystal Palace.

Both teams were very good at regaining the ball, but also pushed their full backs on to force Crystal Palace back and give them something to think about. This should be a key part of the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Set pieces and discipline

Crystal Palace are a danger to score from set pieces having netted twice from corners this season. They are often creative, as we saw on their perfectly executed routine at Norwich on the opening day. They are also traditional as they also showed against Aston Villa.

However, they also have given up the second most chances in the Premier League from set pieces this season. So, they are just as likely to concede from a corner or free kick as they are to score from one.

Discipline will also play a part. Crystal Palace have given away the most fouls and thus free kicks in the Premier League this season. We are no angels either though, sitting second in this category. With the top two fouling teams in the Premier League going at it, we could well see a deciding goal from a set piece or penalty.

Spurs vs Crystal Palace outlook

This will be an extremely hard game with Crystal Palace difficult to beat away from home. They aren’t impenetrable though and can be got at with the right tactics and personnel. Mauricio Pochettino will have a number of big calls to make in terms of his selection and the way in which we attack.

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

Spurs vs Crystal Palace betting

Spurs to win – Betfair are offering 4/1 on this for New Accounts.
Spurs win 2/1 at 9/1 with 888sport.
HT/FT: Draw/Tottenham at 4/1 with BetVictor.

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10 Responses to Spurs vs Crystal Palace: how to ground the Eagles

  1. anotherwisemonkey 19th September 2015 at 11:20 am #

    I’m excited about this one. A win would be a real boost heading into a massive game against Arsenal. Defeat would get the media going again.

    I expect Chadli and Son to start and the former will have to work harder than he is naturally inclined to track back in order to give sufficient support to Davies. I do fancy us at corners at the moment so fingers crossed we can nick one that way. Another clean sheet would be the icing on the cake. I’m going for a 1-0 win for the Spurs, Aldeweireld the scorer.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th September 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      Nice prediction. Alderweireld has had a few good headed chances from corners in recent games so a good bet to get on the scoresheet.

      • anotherwisemonkey 19th September 2015 at 2:57 pm #

        Shame about Arsenal’s result today. ;)

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 19th September 2015 at 3:04 pm #

          Haha if only Chelsea could’ve lost as well! They’ll be down Cazorla and Gabriel too, vulnerable at CB Wednesday if Mertesacker can’t play.

          • Reinert 19th September 2015 at 5:04 pm #

            Both Chelsea and Arsenal loosing in a match between Chelsea and Arsenal would truly be manna from the heavens ;)

            • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 20th September 2015 at 11:16 am #

              One day i dream of a scenario where this is possible :)

  2. pk 19th September 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    So simple , Pochettino had better watch out for his job.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 20th September 2015 at 11:11 am #

      Maybe one day ;)

  3. anotherwisemonkey 20th September 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    Looking forward to a post on our improved defensive displays soon, Mark. Only Manchester City have conceded less league goals than us so far this season.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 21st September 2015 at 12:37 pm #

      Have something in the offing that i’ve been working on, results may surprise a few.