Gap Closing Between Spurs And Crystal Palace As Smaller Clubs Splash Out

Will Eagles terrorise Cockerels on Sunday?
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Will Eagles terrorise Cockerels on Sunday?

I have to admit I am still recovering from City’s last minute steal last Saturday. A crime that was compounded by having to give a lift to a gloating, ungracious City fan who, by all rights, should have been jettisoned into Penge. The injustice of it all really rankled me but my deep disappointment was matched by immense pride in a performance of character, skill and tenacity.

When this one-eyed light blue monster dared to say that our midfield was lacking in quality I was open-mouthed in astonishment. McArthur and Cabaye, in particular were magnificent and I felt the deepest sympathy for McCarthy whose error gifted them the goal as he had been as safe as the Bank of England up to that point.

It was bitterly ironic that it was a Jules-like spill, which we saw a few of last season. All keepers have their Achilles Heels and we are blessed in having three class goalies at the club.

Indeed our depth of squad has cover in all areas and reached similar proportions to the Mariana Trench. And so even with three key players missing on Saturday – Delaney, Ward & Wickham – we ran the champions-elect so close.

There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves and we need to dust ourselves down and approach the Tottenham match with the sort of positive attitude we carried to Chelsea recently. As Delaney pointed out after that victory at Stamford Bridge Palace are no longer cowed by the ‘Big Boys’.

In the endless pursuit of balance and even-handedness, for which Palace fans are known around SE25 and across the world, we have invited Dan Fitch, Tottenham fan, writer and editor at Sabotage Times & TottenhamBlog to give his view on Sunday’s game at White Hart Lane. To sum it up he is not brimming with confidence. Fitch writes:

It says much about Palace’s progress and indeed Spurs’ slow decline, that the home fans will not be approaching this game with a great deal of confidence.

Tottenham have failed to win a league match at home this season despite playing better than their opponents. Chances are being created but Harry Kane is struggling with the responsibility of being the side’s senior striker and is in need of one to go in to cure his yips. The fans at White Hart Lane soon grow impatient if the side fails to immediately play like the 1970 Brazil team and that can create a lot of pressure for a young squad.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have been in brilliant form away from home under Alan Pardew. Last season we only managed a point against you and your squad has been improved since then.

One of the most interesting aspects of this new campaign is how smaller clubs such as yourselves have been significantly improved in relation to the traditionally stronger teams. Not so long ago Spurs would have been able to take Yannick Bolasie from you this summer for an affordable fee. These days you don’t need the money and were able to slap a price tag on him that made us think twice.

The influx of cash has also allowed clubs like Palace to sign the type of star player that they would have never previously been able to afford. Players like your Yohan Cabaye and Andre Ayew, Riyad Mahrez and Dimitri Payet from other mid-table clubs, are good enough to play for sides in the top four.

With an increasing number of teams possessing one or two genuine match winners, the old cliché of there being ‘no easy games’ is truer than ever. Spurs and Palace might not be the fiercest of London rivals but this is one derby match that home fans will nevertheless watch nervously.

As Dan rightly points out, the playing field has become a lot more even these days and with a fair wind behind them, not to mention a raucous away support, Palace can stretch those Tottenham nerves even further.

Richard Foster is a freelance football writer and author, who is a regular features contributor for The Guardian and Sabotage Times. He also writes for a variety of Palace blogs and fanzines, including Five Year Plan.

His latest book The Agony & The Ecstasy – A Comprehensive History of the Play-Offs is out now and available via www.ockleybooks.co.uk.

Talking Balls, his sports quotes book, was launched this month.

Follow him on twitter @rcfoster.