Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Crystal Palace preview (h)

Spurs vs Crystal Palace is up next at the Lane, as we look to get back on track in the Premier League.

After an encouraging performance, but a disappointing result against Chelsea, we return home to face a team that plays in a style we have traditionally struggled with.

Neil Warnock is in the midst of an up and down season, struggling to regain the consistency the club were enjoying under Tony Pulis. So, what should we be on the look out for in Spurs vs Crystal Palace this time?

Crystal Palace counter attack

The Eagles are a counter attacking side, but with very dangerous weapons that can get out quickly on the break going forward. Warnock bases his team on the 6-4 principal, whereby he has six defensively minded players and four highly attacking men.

At the back he has two strong centre halves flanked by two decent full backs with two defensively sound midfield ball winners ahead of them. Mile Jedinak is improving as a Premier League player all the time and James McArthur is solid alongside him.

Up top is where Warnock employs speed and dribbling in order to instigate counter attacks. He has two fast and tricky wide players with the unpredictable Yannick Bolasie on one side and either Wilfried Zaha or Jason Puncheon on the other.

Both Bolasie and Zaha are very good dribbling with the ball at their feet. Puncheon is a bit more direct in his runs and plays as more of an inside forward than a winger.


Yannick Bolasie take-ons against Swansea.

Off the striker, Warnock uses Marouane Chamakh as a hold-up player and link-man. The Moroccan is often the focus for balls moved directly forward from the back with his underrated aerial ability. Chamakh looks slight, but gets up in the air very well. He often comes towards the play when the ball is moved across the deck, as he is charged with moving it forward through the centre of the pitch.

With Chamakh as the hold-up man coming towards the ball, Warnock goes for a pacey striker to run in-behind up top. This movement of one player going one way, one the other, is designed to stretch teams, creating space for Bolasie and Zaha/Puncheon in-between the lines. The striker position usually sees Frazier Campbell get the nod, or in his absence, the equally quick Dwight Gayle.

Palace set pieces

Crystal Palace look to play in a low block and then spring forward on the counter attack, but they are also one of the most dangerous teams from set pieces in the Premier League.

Neil Warnock, like Sam Allardyce, coaches his side to get the most out of dead balls.

Allardyce is a man that likes to spread the six-yard box with five or six players to keep the ball in-play close to the goal. Warnock is similar, but likes to crowd the opposition goalkeeper with three players. This is done to try and cause maximum commotion as the ball is often pumped in towards them. Warnock will also then position two men for rebound and loose ball control at the front and back of the six-yard box.

This corner from their last away match with Swansea shows just that. They get three men around the keeper, while Scott Dann and Yannick Bolasie are the stops at the front and rear.


Crystal Palace corner crowding the keeper.

This corner resulted in a penalty for a foul by Jonjo Shelvey, leading to Palace’s other strength, earning and scoring from the spot. The Eagles have converted three penalty kicks so far this season. Along with West Brom, this is the most in the Premier League.

With our league-leading red card total and Palace’s penchant for penalties, I wouldn’t bet against seeing another in Spurs vs Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon.

Press for success

Against a counter attacking side that sits deep and has speed to get out on the break, pressing might not be the wisest idea. At Selhurst Park this is probably true, but when away from home, teams that have pushed up on Palace have had success.

In their last away match in South Wales, Swansea went after them to create turnovers and dominated the match. The Swans should’ve been out of sight, but ended up drawing due to conceding a penalty.


Swansea ball recoveries against Crystal Palace.

Their previous away trip to Old Trafford saw the Red Devils have 72% of the ball as they often regained it in the Palace half.


Man Utd ball recoveries against Crystal Palace.

In midweek, Christian Benteke pressing and robbing centre back Scott Dann of the ball allowed the Villa man to run in and score the game’s only goal.

Harry Kane has been busy recently, stealing the ball from Gareth Barry on Roberto Soldado’s strike in Spurs 2 Everton 1. Then in midweek, he picked Gary Cahill’s pocket before firing an effort across goal in Chelsea 3 Spurs 0. He may well have more joy hounding Palace players here.

Mauricio Pochettino came to Spurs with a big reputation for playing pressing football. After not seeing too much of it over the course of this season, our last two matches have seen us pushing up more on teams. Continuing with this harder pressing game would really work in Spurs vs Crystal Palace this Saturday.

Where Palace allow chances

With Neil Warnock playing a counter attacking game, it could be a surprise to know that Palace are particularly vulnerable to balls played through the centre.

In their last away trip to Swansea, Gary Monk’s men continually opened them up through here, as well as scoring the opening goal through Wilfried Bony.

spurs-vs-crystal-palace-swansea chances

Swansea chances against Crystal Palace.

In Palace’s previous away trip, Man Utd also opened them up through the middle, as Angel Di Maria found Juan Mata to curl in the game’s only goal.

Liverpool also exposed this despite being humbled 3-1 at Selhurst Park, as they opened the scoring with Lallana’s straight through-ball to Rickie Lambert.


Lallana sets up Lambert through the middle.

Benteke’s goal midweek came from taking the ball off a centre back and charging through the middle to curl it in to the corner of the net.

The Tottenham tactics for Crystal Palace vs Spurs should see us do well to also target the centre of their defence. Teams usually stifle our narrow style, but here it could well pay off.

Spurs vs Crystal Palace outlook

Palace are in the midst of a bad run with one win in their last eight Premier League matches. We have shown an upturn in performances, but with a mixed bag of results.

Our home struggles have been well documented and a good win here could propel us in to a decent run of upcoming fixtures.

Pressing Palace will be key to taking all three points and attacking their centre back pairing with through balls is the way to goal.

Spurs vs Crystal Palace prediction: Spurs 1 Crystal Palace 0.

If you enjoyed this post, please share:

, , ,

3 Responses to Tottenham tactics: Spurs vs Crystal Palace preview (h)

  1. Reinert 5th December 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Excellent article, as usual. Thank you!

  2. Andy 6th December 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Great article.
    I think we need some consistency in selection over the Xmas period. Our best performance of the season was against Everton so I didn’t understand why changes were made against Chelsea. Also bringing in Lamela (for Soldado) was surely the wrong thing to do. I like Lamela but Chelsea are a powerful team – may be we should have tried Stambouli?
    We get Soldado back to looking something like his former self then drop him?!!!
    I also think we should play Kaboul at right-back (until Walker is fit). This will add some height in this area (rather than be targeted by other teams) and I remember him marauding forward.

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 9th December 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      Good points Andy. I would also like to see some consistency, but I think the Palace game showed that when we have fixtures coming thick and fast, such as there will be over Christmas, that we do need to rest and rotate. Stambouli does seem to play well with Dembele, so bringing in these two would’ve been a start.

      Kaboul could play at right back, i don’t think he’d be any better or worse than Vlad as i don’t think he has the positional sense going forward. Vlad has also formed a bit of a relationship with Lennon, which i’d like to see more of.