New Pitch Issues May Give Crystal Palace Advantage Against Spurs
There’s nothing like starting the New Year with a fresh, invigorating attitude, backed up by a whole heap of resolutions to blow away the cobwebs and to right all the wrongs of the previous twelve months.
Palace have grasped this concept with some gusto and are facing 2015 with not only a new manager but also a new pitch, the hint of new signings and seemingly a positive attitude pervading the club. All this shiny brightness will be put to the test by Pochettino’s energetic Tottenham side, buoyed by their recent dismantling of Chelsea’s formidable defence.
It was only a few months ago that Palace got the best of a goalless draw at White Hart Lane and Warnock seemed happily ensconced at the helm but that unravelled pretty quickly and now we have the return of Pardew.
Warnock was dismissed after two successive defeats and conceding six goals in the process and since he left there have been three clean sheets, admittedly not against the stiffest of opposition. Solidity at the back is a pre-requisite for a team short of goals and even under Pulis the goals did not exactly flow. There’s a need to get back to the days of chiselling out 1-0 victories.
Mind you, stopping Spurs is not going to be straightforward with Harry Kane beginning to show what all the fuss is about, ably supported by the mercurial skills of Eriksen and Chadli.
In his enigmatic comment that the players will “put the ball at risk more”, Pardew has hinted he may opt for a slightly more attacking line-up and so the likelihood is that there will be goals in the early evening Selhurst air.
Last weekend Palace started both Murray and Gayle but with all due respect to Dover Athletic a reversion to a single striker is on the cards, so which one will be the crucial question. There is the possibility of Chammers being ready to return from hamstring injury and whilst that would be a boon it is not increasing our scoring prowess.
With Jedinak and Bolasie absent, the midfield options are limited but Bannan has played himself into contention and if he does play the dead ball delivery will be improved, from a very low base.
There has been much speculation about the impact of the state of a pitch, which was completely re-laid this week, with some suggesting it will cut up badly and interrupt any free-flowing football.
That may to Palace’s advantage as Tottenham are superior in the finer arts, so if it turns into a scrappy dogfight then all the better. With crucial matches against Burnley, Leicester and Everton later this month, this match may set the tone for the new regime and a happy new year.