Juan Foyth celebrates a goal to make the score Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham: diamond move opens up narrow Eagles

Changing to a diamond formation saw the only goal of the game as our Premier League match finished Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham at Selhurst Park.

A war of attrition in the driving rain saw Spurs emerge victorious. A move to a diamond made all the difference against a Crystal Palace team playing extremely narrow. With the middle of the pitch crowded, space opened up for the full backs and a set piece won by Ben Davies proved the difference. A Juan Foyth header saw a final score of Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Narrow Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace continued with their trend of playing extremely narrow without the ball. The Eagles are coached to congest the middle of the pitch in order to force the opponent to the flanks. The Palace defence then rely on their centre backs to deal with the resulting crosses.

Narrow defence gave Spurs space out wide during Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Narrow defence gave Spurs space out wide.

The tactic continued in this match. Crystal Palace clogged the middle and then would shift their formation to the side the ball was on.

Palace shift their narrow defence from side-to-side during Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Palace shift their narrow defence from side-to-side.

Kieran Trippier should’ve been a central figure in this match as a result. Trippier’s chance generation from wide is amongst the best there is. However, Tottenham’s slow movement of the ball across the pitch, combined with Trippier leaving the match injured on 25 minutes, meant that chances came at a premium.

On the other flank, Ben Davies put in two good crosses. The first saw Dele Alli cushion a header back across goal that bounced just past the post. The second found its way to Serge Aurier arriving from the other wing. However, Aurier’s shot was brilliantly blocked.

Spurs continued to struggle to generate good chances in spite of working the opportunities. Time and again the ball was moved wide, but little end product ensued.

Townsend vs Foyth

Tottenham controlled possession, but Crystal Palace brought a threat on the break. Juan Foyth had a shaky Premier League debut during Wolves 2-3 Tottenham and he was singled out here. Andros Townsend was constantly trying to get in or around Foyth in order to run beyond or dribble around him.

Foyth coped well overall. Townsend showed flashes of danger either to get a shot away or be brought down for a free kick. In general, Foyth was calm and composed to keep the danger Townsend posed to a minimum.

Pochettino’s Diamond shift

Seeing Crystal Palace’s narrow setup without the ball, Mauricio Pochettino decided to make a mid-half change. The initial 4-1-4-1 formation was dispensed with in a favour of a 4-3-1-2 diamond.

Pochettino switch to a 4-3-1-2 diamond formation during Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Pochettino switch to a 4-3-1-2 diamond formation.

Lucas Moura went up top with Harry Kane. Dele Alli and Moussa Sissoko anchored the points outside Victor Wanyama at the base. Erik Lamela slotted in as a number ten behind the strike pairing.

Moving so many players centrally in a diamond may have looked as if it was playing in to Palace’s hands. However, whilst the middle of the pitch was congested, Spurs could spring the full backs in to the acres of green space. The pair then had more targets in the centre to aim for.

Aurier in space to cross against the central congestion during Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Aurier in space to cross against the central congestion.

Good crosses from Serge Aurier and Ben Davies followed. Lucas Moura headed just over and Harry Kane was also unable to finish, as our full backs got further forward.

Set piece wins the match

The diamond pushed Crystal Palace further back and eventually saw Tottenham win a corner midway through the second half.

The brilliance of Mauricio Pochettino’s coaching has often centred on each player knowing the system so well that they can perform one another’s roles. That happened here as Victor Wanyama found himself at the side of the diamond and Moussa Sissoko at the base.

Ben Davies free against narrow defence during Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Ben Davies free against narrow defence.

Ben Davies was in oceans of room with Crystal Palace once more playing narrow. Wanyama’s long pass ended up at Davies’ feet. Aaron Wan Bissaka raced out and deflected Davies’ attempted cross for a corner.

The set piece routine combined a near post run for Toby Alderweireld with a touch of luck. Alderweireld looped out of the pack to work off a screen set on his marker, Mamadou Sakho, by Harry Kane.

Alderweireld runs away from his marker prior to Foyth's goal during Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.

Alderweireld runs away from his marker prior to Foyth’s goal.

Toby Alderweireld created the separation he needed, but Erik Lamela’s over hit corner found its way to Kane who got a header in on goal anyway.

Kane’s header bounced up off the thigh of Luka Milivojevic. Juan Foyth pounced after running off his marker, Cheikhou Kouyaté, and stole in ahead of the pondering Jordan Ayew to head home. Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham and Foyth’s first Premier League goal was greeted with rapturous celebrations.

Lloris denies at the death

Hugo Lloris was worked over by Crystal Palace during 90 gritty minutes. The Eagles often tried to close down his kicking, forcing miscues from attempted passes out. Palace also tried to unsettle him by packing the penalty area on crosses and set pieces. The result was Hugo flapping at several high balls.

However, when called upon for a big save, just as he was at the death during West Ham 0-1 Tottenham, Lloris was more than up to the task. As time ticked down and Luka Milivojevic’s shot cannoned in to the path of Aleksander Sorloth, Lloris was there once again to deny another striker from stealing a share of the points.

Sorloth took plenty of criticism for firing straight at the Spurs stopper, but an amazing recovering lunge from Toby Alderweireld appeared to deflect the ball, making the reaction save even better.

Hugo’s heroics kept the score at Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham and three more valuable Premier points were in the bag.

Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham overall

In testing conditions, there was plenty to admire in grinding out this result.

The shift of formation to a diamond setup helped take advantage of the space in the wide areas. Flooding the middle of the pitch with the diamond midfield and two strikers created the room that the full backs needed to launch attacks.

There were good individual performances too. Dele Alli continues to have a quiet but strong influence. Victor Wanyama put in 90 solid minutes as he continues to shake off the rust from many months out of the line-up. Moussa Sissoko looked unbelievably calm and purposeful with the ball. Passing and running with a decisive conviction we’ve not seen from him in a Spurs short. A far cry from the clumsy, bumbling and bereft of confidence player we’ve known.

Juan Foyth shone brightest of all in the diamond. After early struggles getting to grips with Andros Townsend, Foyth put on the kind of display we’ve known he was capable of and many of the “2 penalties” pundits have missed.

Final score: Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham.
MOTM: Juan Foyth.

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12 Responses to Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham: diamond move opens up narrow Eagles

  1. Iain 12th November 2018 at 6:35 pm #

    We keep grinding out results and this with a team who are clearly not 100% fit. Most had little or no pre season and have played a ludicrous amount t of football in the last couple of years. It all bodes very well for the coming months, if they can get a rest. I would love to see all the key players having picked up little knocks in this game so they will miss this new round of pointless international games – the only exceptions would venture South American duo Lucia and Eric as they deserve their international recalls as both have been like the cliched “new signings”. Bring on the Chavs and the scum!! COYS!!!

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 12th November 2018 at 10:57 pm #

      Encouraging signs that we’re hanging around near the top of the table and are yet to hit our stride. More injuries in this game doesn’t help though with the number we already have on the treatment table. Really stretching a squad that’s at its limit!

    • Ghassan Beidas 13th November 2018 at 2:54 am #

      Totally agree with you on the “new round of pointless international games”. I’m surprised no one resisted this idea. These players just cannot physically endure the pressures of more football.In the end everyone one will pay, the players, clubs and countries. Crazy.

  2. Pedro 13th November 2018 at 8:28 am #

    It’s incredible we keep grinding out results despite all the issues we’ve had. Does this mean Poch is in the running for manager of the year? I’m hoping that our performances will trend upwards, but I’d be lying if a part of me wasn’t cr@pping myself at the thought we may go the other way and fall apart in the 2nd half of the season. History unde Poch suggests that we are coming into our element at this time of year. I feel the international break has come at the right time and fingers crossed some of our key players get a rest (but of course I’m sure Southgate will still flog Kane for the full 90 minutes for England).

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th November 2018 at 10:28 am #

      I think Poch should be in the conversation for manager of the year every season he’s been here given what he is doing with the budget we have and wage levels we pay. Overachieving every season!

      I always feel that the international break is often worse than if the players continued playing club football. It often can involve a lot of travel, especially for our South American or African players. Sometimes this travel can be quite arduous and involve several legs on various modes of transport or involve playing at altitude, which is extremely tough on the body. Every organisation – FIFA, UEFA, FA and PL – all consider their tournaments top priority so its really up to the clubs to manage their players and push back. We don’t have a winter break in this country so it’s really up to the teams to push back and pull players out with “injuries.” Not the most honest thing to do, but the only way these organisations that continue to sacrifice their biggest asset ie the players, will start to take notice.

  3. Toby4eva 13th November 2018 at 9:35 am #

    Gee the lads are playing like a very different Spurs.

    Nine wins and nil draws – 27 from 12 and averaging 2.25 per game.

    Our best ever start in the PL I’d suggest.

    Interestingly, after successive games against Chelsea and Woolwich – we have a run of thirteen games where we don’t face any of the top five until late February.

    Happy to be the new Leicester and record thirteen 1-0 wins in that space!


    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 13th November 2018 at 10:30 am #

      If we can inflict some damage on Chelsea and Arsenal then we really do have a good run of games from which to put some pressure on. It’s a shame the international break has come when it has as it can often be a momentum killer and I feel we were just starting to gain some.

  4. Grum 13th November 2018 at 3:17 pm #

    Thanks for your usual excellent analysis Mark.

    The diamond system as deployed in this game did stifle Alli’s creative side. But Dele Alli – what a fantastic, disciplined young player he is. In the diamond shape that you highlighted Mark, his role was to cover for Ben Davis when he went forward, which he did admirably. I’m sure he really wanted to be getting involved further forward but I can’t recall once in this game when he forgot his responsibilities.

    Ben Davis is getting better at crossing but I do wish that he would cross first time more often. Too frequently, he takes an extra touch and his resulting cross gets blocked. I noticed that against PSV almost every time he took an extra touch and had his cross blocked, except for the second goal where he hit the cross first time.

    • YouShubes 14th November 2018 at 9:35 am #

      to be fair not just him trips does that as well…to hit a cross Beckham style from a moving ball takes incredible technique which not many of our players have…many have to trap it first

      The 3 5 2 / 343 streches the pitch out and allows our better technical players most notably Eriksen to hit those sweet crosses

      Would love to see us go to 433 where we can use Dier’s ability to drop back into a 3

      PS Was impressed with Lucas he really put a shift in

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th November 2018 at 11:00 pm #

      Very much enjoyed Dele’s play. He looks to be improving with every game and shaking the rust off from being out injured so much. Just hope he can stay healthy now.

      Was pleased for Ben Davies. He’s been getting some stick recently and he did incredibly well here. Got forward much more than he has been doing in recent matches. Delivered some good crosses too.

  5. Mark from Virginia 16th November 2018 at 5:55 pm #

    Hi Mark,
    I recently read an article on Tifo about Chelsea’s tactics this year. The article pointed out the tendency of Sari to set up the left side to be strong in attack and consequently Hazard, Alonso and the midfielder on that side are all attack minded players while the right side is less so. This presents an interesting dilemma for Spurs on the right side. Will the game against the Blues benefit more from Trippier or Aurier and who should play midfield on that side?
    While Aurier is prone to at least one bone headed decision per game he seems to have been improving quite well. I like him more than Trippier in this game and having Lamela on that side should cause Alonso some problems.
    What do you think?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 17th November 2018 at 3:17 pm #

      Hi Mark, great question. I think we may not get much choice with Trippier out injured so Aurier will get the nod. The Chelsea left is where their attacking strength lies, but also their defensive weakness so we have to set up to not only nullify, but also exploit. This is tricky as we can’t over or under commit. Lamela would be well deployed on this side for his defensive hustle, and to attack Chelsea, he is having a great season creating and scoring chances. Along with Aurier the pair could handle Chelsea as well as do some damage of their own. I’d also be looking to move another player in to this area, which would make Dele a good call to play on the right in a midfield three. I’ve been really impressed with not only his attacking involvement since coming back from injury, but also his defensive work, which has gone largely under the radar.

      Overall, the biggest x-factor in this match will be if Eriksen plays. We will need him to get in amongst Jorginho and Kante to move the ball through this part of the pitch and to stop the pair of them shutting the match down and allowing Chelsea to dominate. What’s more, pressing the hell out of Jorginho with Eriksen’s boundless energy will be key.