Spurs 2 Crystal Palace 0: repositioning Eriksen stretches narrow Eagles

Most definitely a game of two halves saw us emerge with all three Premier League points, with it finishing Spurs 2 Crystal Palace 0 at the Lane.

The Eagles had much the better of the first, as they were able to spring from deep to get in-between the lines and behind our defence. The second saw us quicken the tempo and play with much more width as we repositioned Christian Eriksen. This saw us stretch a side defending very narrowly by separating the full backs from their centre backs.

Palace between the lines and in-behind

The first half will be remembered for Jason Puncheon’s horrendous penalty miss, but it really summed up how Palace were fashioning, but spurning their chances.

The Eagles had very little of the ball overall, but they kept us at bay by remaining extremely narrow and compact when not in possession. They tucked the full backs in and got extra bodies in to central midfield. This countered the inside movement of Christian Eriksen, whilst also hindering Emmanuel Adebayor trying to drop off the front.

As a result Palace were able to stifle and slow down our attack. When the Eagles did win possession, they moved it quickly to a player between the lines or one running in-behind.

I’ve talked about the space between our lines of defence and midfield against Southampton and especially last weekend in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal. Palace created their first chance in this way after just a few minutes.

They won the ball back as they congested the space in the middle of the park and then moved it quickly to Yannick Bolasie out wide. Jason Puncheon then got free moving between the lines and scuffed an effort just past the post.


Jason Puncheon gets in-between the lines.

As we looked at in the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Crystal Palace, the Eagles were also creating chances by getting a runner in-behind.

Our first warning was after 8 minutes. A ball was played in to Christian Eriksen who had drifted inside from the left, but Damien Delaney jumping in front of the Dane to intercept, saw him take the pass.

Delaney then quickly charged forward and fed Marouane Chamakh running in-behind. Vlad Chiriches was caught up field and Michael Dawson was on Cameron Jerome, which left Moussa Dembele attempting to get back and cover Chamakh’s run. The Belgian’s poor challenge fouled the Moroccan to concede a penalty.


Delaney hits Chamakh running in-behind.

Jason Puncheon would blaze the spot kick over, but Palace kept on creating by getting the ball quickly from back to front to spring a runner behind our defence.

Next it was Cameron Jerome who raced on to Chamakh’s flick on. His dangerous shot bounced in front of a diving Hugo Lloris, who could only bat the ball out for Michael Dawson to hook clear.


Chamakh flicks on for Jerome to run in-behind.

With Palace defending deep and narrow, our best effort of the half predictably came from outside of a congested box. Palace had seven men defending and blocking the central route to goal, but Nabil Bentaleb’s curling left footed effort struck the inside of the post and rebounding along the line across goal.


Palace crowd the centre as Bentaleb fires from outside,

The passage of play highlighted what Palace were doing well to stifle us and prompted Tim Sherwood to get in to the lads at the interval. “We had a few words at half-time and the lads came back out and showed a lot of character.

The message was not only to inject more tempo in to our attack, but also to stretch a narrow Palace side by repositioning Christian Eriksen.

Tottenham stretch the Eagles

Palace were giving us plenty of problems by defending deep and narrow, then springing forward to get in-between the lines or behind our defence. After the interval, we saw a real shift in the way we were playing, as we quickened the tempo, but also played with much more width.

They key was Christian Eriksen. In the first half, the Dane was drifting inside, but running in to a lot of traffic. This was highlighted by him being shrugged off the ball in the move that led to Palace’s penalty.

In the second period, Eriksen played with much more width and only came inside once the ball had been moved up in to the final third.


Christian Eriksen passes received 1st and 2nd half.

This switch lead to our passing stretching the narrow Palace defence much more after the interval. The Eagles had been getting their full backs to tuck in, which got additional bodies in to the centre and jammed our passing.

After the break, with Eriksen retaining his width, our passing out to the flanks increased.


Spurs final third passing 1st and 2nd halves.

The gaps then started to appear as Palace were stretched by not only the ball movement, but also by the increase in tempo.

This started with Bentaleb and Dembele moving the ball quicker from side to side. This not only got play to the wide men earlier, but also to Emmanuel Adebayor who was pulling out to the left flank. As the striker moved out, Eriksen would move in and this resulted in an early chance for the Dane.


Adebayor moves out, Eriksen moves in.

Eriksen received a return pass that saw him dribble across the box with several chances to pull the trigger, but when he finally did, his shot was blocked.

Minutes later saw the pair combine as we took the lead. This time Palace were stretched by the quickness of a long ball forward, as Eriksen ran off Adebayor’s flick-on.

It was quite a simple route one goal and Palace did have both their centre backs up against Emmanuel Adebayor. However, the quick ball forward allowing Eriksen to run in-behind caught out their full backs, who had previously been playing extremely narrow.


Palace’s full backs lose Eriksen.

The goal loosened the Palace formation up, as they had to come out more. However, they also had to cover our wider operating players and along with quicker ball movement, the gaps started to appear.

Tim Sherwood recognized this and introduced Jermain Defoe to take advantage. With Christian Eriksen pulling wide, suddenly there was a lot of space appearing between the lines as the full backs were being dragged wide.


Spurs now get between the lines.

We created several good chances, as Defoe now had space to work in which had previously been congested.

We fashioned some opportunities, including one by Defoe who fired a shot across goal. This was before the same player went on to add a second.

The passage of play started with Moussa Dembele winning the ball back in midfield and moving it to Aaron Lennon who had cut inside. The problem for Palace was that in the first half this would have seen the full backs moving tight to their centre backs with the wide player drifting in. But here, they were slow on their rotation. The result saw both centre backs on Emmanuel Adebayor, leaving Jermain Defoe free.


Defoe is left free as the FBs are slow tucking in.

The striker took the pass and twisted his way past full back Jonathan Parr, who tried in vain to get back at him, to fire home the game-clinching goal.

Spurs 2 Crystal Palace 0 overall

A real game of two halves that hinged on the reposition of Christian Eriksen and increasing the tempo of our ball movement. This stretched Crystal Palace and as the match wore on, caused gaps to appear.

In the end, the full backs, who had been playing tight to their centre backs, became separated from them, allowing us to score twice.

Final Score: Spurs 2 Crystal Palace 0.

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7 Responses to Spurs 2 Crystal Palace 0: repositioning Eriksen stretches narrow Eagles

  1. YouShubes 13th January 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    The way they shrugged him (Eriksen) off the ball so easily makes me wonder if we can ever move him to the middle of the pitch the way we did Luka?

    Where do you think is his best position?

    Can you EVENTUALLY see him in Luka’s old role of deep lying playmaker and say Lamela in Rafa’s old role of well go where ever he felt like it?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 14th January 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      Good question. I think his best position is in the middle, but not in a four man midfield as he’ll have too much defensive responsibility – prob why Sherwood has him drift in from the left. I think he’s ideal to play off a central striker in either a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3.

      I can’t see him operating as a deep lying playmaker, as he is more of a direct dribbler and a shooter than that position requires. I also think he wants to play further forward and wouldn’t have the discipline to work that role. Lamela is not a back to goal player, so i’m not sure how effective he’d be playing in the hole like Rafa did. His best attributes are pace and dribbling and he looks like the kind of player who needs the ball on the move, so again not sure how effective he’d be in the middle other than on the counter attack.

      • YouShubes 14th January 2014 at 6:27 pm #

        As long as Sherwood is in charge I cannot see us going to just one up front.

        Given what you said what formations do you think would suit us best. My issue is while we have great players but some systems make player x e.g. Aaron Lennon difficult to pair with say player Y Erik Lamela




        Dembele/Paulinho (box to box runner)

        Holtby/Siggurdon (“Creative” Midfielder) maybe tom Carroll


        Lennon/Andros/Lamela/Eriksen/Holtby/Chali (Wing Forward (Right or Left)

        Ade/Soldado (Central Striker)

        The 4-2-3-1

        Do we double pivot with destroyer and a box to box, or as this article says there DLP is either no longer relevant


        or there are simply too few who are too expensive and/or simply will not come to us, or those potential DLPs Claissie etc may be only maringally better in the EPL than our Tom Carroll

        Care for your thoughts

        • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 15th January 2014 at 11:21 am #

          Sorry mate, your comments keep going in to the spam queue. Investigating why this is happening atm!

          As you say, we’re not going to play anything other than two up top at the minute, so for me it’s not really a case of what formation suits us best, but keeping an abundance of midfielders happy which is the biggest issue. Their spaces are now limited by Sherwood’s formation, whilst also being congested by bringing Bentaleb through and if Carroll comes back. We’ve splashed a lot of cash on these guys and it’s a concern that Holtby and possibly Capoue look to be on their way + the rumours about Lamela despite Sherwood saying he’s going nowhere.

          These guys obviously signed up for the manager (AVB) and a system (4-3-3), but now both of those have changed and maybe that has made some of them unhappy, whilst also some of them are not favoured by Sherwood. The team seems to have blown through a cross roads of do we buy big or bring the youth team through and now we appear to not have a plan (or that plan has just turned 180 degrees from buy to develop) of where we’re going.

          • YouShubes 15th January 2014 at 11:57 am #

            “…The team seems to have blown through a cross roads of do we buy big or bring the youth team through and now we appear to not have a plan (or that plan has just turned 180 degrees from buy to develop) of where we’re going….” you tysoned that nail :D. Right now the we SEEM to be going round in circles, like a punch drunk trying his bearing right after being levelled with left hook.

            Selling JD may force our hand, and we will have to play 5 in midfield, due to injuries, form etc of Ade or Soldado (who for me was extremely poor on Saturday) No point spending big as clubs are hesitant to sell unless they can get replacements in on time, which conflicts with the M.O. of last minute Levy.

            Unless we can get a striker in who can do a job e.g. Remy there is no point us signing a striker. I would bring back Benny as while Rose is learning his craft, Baines, Clichy, Evra aside I cannot think of better EPL leftbacks.than Benny. But that aside I would bring no else in.

  2. Chu2ks 16th January 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    I concur with what you all have had to say above. I can’t for the life of me work out the direction of the club at the moment. I’ve always been of the opinion of playing to one’s strengths, and right now for Spurs, that’s a strong midfield.
    That we are blessed with wingers is an added bonus, we can play a 4141 like Bayern(or a more budget scale, Sunderland). Ade up top(sorry Bobby soldier), as he combines hold-up skills with more of a goal threat. Or a plain old 4411 like Harry used to play, but now instead of VDV utilise Lamela, Chadli, Erikssen or Sigurdsson( I still believe in his promise), behind the main striker.
    That way we’re not giving up numbers in midfield and protecting our defenders at the same time.
    Can someone on here please tell me why Tim Sherwood is so opposed to playing a 4231 system, when he used it, albeit more expansively than AVB, with his development sqaud?

    • Spurs Fanatic - Mark 16th January 2014 at 4:23 pm #

      I have read that playing with two strikers came from higher up (board level), so that might well be the reason.