Delle Alli is a polished gem, Mauricio Pochettino’s team are the real deal and other things we learned from Crystal Palace 1 Tottenham 3
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Alli is the signing of the season
Technically, the brilliant young midfielder was signed by Spurs in the last January transfer window although he spent the second half of the 2014/15 season back on loan at MK Dons. In his first Premier League campaign, Alli has demonstrated not just that he is a rare talent but that he is a genuine matchwinner. Not since Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard emerged a generation ago has a young English midfielder generated such excitement. The late goal scored by Alli to put his team 2-1 up was truly exceptional, demonstrating not just awareness and technique but also real imagination. He juggled the ball on the edge of the box, spun his marker and volleyed into the bottom corner. It was his sixth league goal of what has become a memorable season for the youngster. Little wonder Roy Hodgson was grinning in the director’s box.
Spurs are the real deal
What a fine team Tottenham have assembled. Strong at the back with a superb goalkeeper, solid and inventive in midfield, and possessing a genuine cutting edge. Pochettino’s side are the real deal and the best fielded by the club since Harry Redknapp was urging Gareth Bale to zoom past his opposing full-back. Spurs climbed to within one point of third-placed Manchester City, for a few hours at least, as they extended the gap on Manchester United in fifth to five points. This triumph was due reward for an outstanding away performance as Spurs demonstrated they could have a major say in the destination of the title race.
The Premier League’s best pairing broken up
Until Jan Vertonghen limped off after 74 minutes of this clash, the centre-back and his partner Toby Alderweireld had played every minute of the Premier League campaign. They have been the most solid pairing in the top flight, although Vertonghen made a rare error for Palace’s opener as he deflected Wilfried Zaha’s cross into his own net. The Belgium international appeared to suffer a knee injury late on and could be sidelined for weeks in what is a major blow to the most solid defence in the country.
Rose looks vulnerable against top wingers
Excellent as he is bombing forward, Danny Rose can look vulnerable to top wide men. He was owned by Wilfried Zaha for much of this match as Palace targeted the space behind the England international. The opening goal came from Rose’s flank, and so did most of the home team’s opportunities.
Kane must be wrapped in cotton wool
The prolific striker extended his Premier League goal tally for the season to 13 with the equalising header and again led the line with energy, enthusiasm and the touch of class that elevates him into the top bracket of centre-forwards. With no senior striker in the squad to ease some of the burden on Harry Kane, it is vital that the England international is wrapped in cotton wool and his game time managed appropriately to ensure he is continues to be effective in the second half of the season. Sensibly, Pochettino used him only as a late substitute in the two legs of the FA Cup tie against Leicester and it appears as if the cup competitions is the best opportunity to rest him if Spurs don’t buy a proven scorer in the January window.