Crystal Palace: We Must Nullify Spurs Midfield & Supply Our Moroccan Zlatan
1. BACK TO THE FUTURE
All those months ago we waited expectantly for the first game back in The Premier League and it was Tottenham who had the honour of welcoming us back for our latest crack at staying in the big time. I cannot say I remember that much about the first encounter as was watching through some dodgy technology in Marrakech and the picture at best was fuzzy but even I could see that Moxey’s handball was a travesty. The general impression was that we had held our own but lost to a superior team. A feeling of inferiority pervaded the performance and lasted all the way through Ollie’s brief, tempestuous Selhurst sojourn. Now we come back full circle to face Spurs both with new men in charge and we need to feel as though we are amongst equals and not just poor London cousins.
2. BACK TO THE FUTURE – PART II
At present Spurs are probably the most schizophrenic team in the Premier League. Inconsistency is so firmly established in the club’s DNA that it’s a surprise it is not incorporated in their club motto. Since being hammered 6-0 at The Etihad they have won their last four away matches in Premier League including at Old Trafford, which admittedly is no longer such an achievement in the post-Fergie era. During December at home they have also been whipped by Liverpool, drawn with West Brom and comfortably beat Stoke in their last league match at White Hart Lane. So who knows which THFC turn up but let’s hope it is the team that have managed to lose twice at home to West Ham of all teams.
3. CHAMAKH TO THE FUTURE – PART III
Having been generally derided and sneered at by all and sundry for the first few months of the season Chamakh has grown in stature to such an extent that much rides on his performance against Spurs. If our best ever No. 29 does well then we should be in good stead. The old cliché that absence makes the heart grow fonder is annoyingly true and was proved beyond doubt when Chamakh came on against West Brom in the last 15 minutes on Saturday as he brought an immediate uplift in class to a match that was ebbing away from us. The goal he scored was a gift from Bolassie but his ability to hold the ball up and keep possession was something we had been sorely missing for the previous 75 minutes. He also happens to be our top scorer and as Doc Brown pointed out on Soccer AM he has the best ratio of goals scored to shots taken of any striker in European club football.
4. WHEN MARRY MET GAYLEY
One issue that needs to be resolved is who partners the Moroccan Ibrahimovic? Up to now Pulis has gone with Cameron Jerome as he offers a greater physical presence than the slight but speedy Dwight Gayle. Jerome and Chamakh do link play together quite well whilst Gayle does not seem to be on the same wavelength. Gayle has mostly been used as an ‘impact sub’ in the same way that Ian Wright was when he first started at Palace. Gayle is similar to the young Wright in that they both have pace to burn and that can often hurt tiring opposition. They share a certain rawness/ naivety whilst also being natural goal scorers and that is one thing Jerome is not in that he misses too many straightforward chances. I can see Pulis sticking with Jerome but Gayle needs to be unleashed at some stage.
5. JEDINAK & HYDE
If we are to get anything out of the game the Spurs midfield must be nullified. This is a midfield, which has been bolstered since Bale left for sunnier climes, with an array of talent such as the powerful Paulinho and the skilful Eriksen. Jedinak & co. will be hoping that they can halt the creative juices that could feed the rejuvenated Adebayor. There have been rumours aplenty about who Pulis is going to bring in to bolster the squad but nothing has materialised as yet so the current squad will go to battle once more and hopefully against a supine Spurs in Jekyll mode rather than getting a hiding from their alter ego evil, Mr. H.
Follow Richard on Twitter, @rcfoster