Tottenham and Palace are two teams who have benefited from changing managers mid-season. Yet despite the upturn in form, both teams are outside their target positions. Tottenham are 6th whereas Palace are in the relegation zone. A victory for either side could see them rise to their desired position so aside from this match being a derby, there is extra importance riding on this match.
In many ways this match is one of the most straightforward matches fans are likely to watch all year. Long gone are the days of over-complicated tactics from Tottenham, and long gone are the days of naive tactics at Crystal Palace. Tim Sherwood will ensure Tottenham are geared to be ultra-attacking in their approach; Tony Pulis will ensure Palace are throwing everything including the kitchen sink to block out any attacks.
Therefore, this match boils down to one factor: can Tottenham spur on their attack to blow down the Crystal Palace door?
If there is one thing we do know, a switch to 4-4-2 has not helped Soldado's quest in scoring a goal in open play. He has proved adept in linking up the play but he very rarely carries a goal threat with him. In fact, aside from Adebayor, the only other player to carry a substantial goal threat is Eriksen. However, as Eriksen's main goal threat is mainly set-pieces he is unlikely to get too many chances to net from a free-kick as Crystal Palace do not give away many fouls - they have the fifth lowest foul count.
If that proves to be the case, Adebayor is left as the only likely person to score - a frightening scenario. For all of Adebayor's qualities (he is brilliant at linking up play, holding the ball up and he is fast), he is not likely to make space for himself the way Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero can. He often relies on service to get him into shooting positions. As Crystal Palace will be concerned with what goes behind them, rather than focusing on attacking space ahead of them, Tottenham will have limited space to work from. The only other likely method of a goal would be via the air; unfortunately as good as Adebayor is in the air, Crystal Palace are just as strong - they have won the second most headers this year. There is also the fact Adebayor is not the reliable of players, particularly when the going gets tough.
Of course they could always bring on Jermaine Defoe, but there is a reason why he has hardly ever been considered a first team player during the duration of his Tottenham career. He is a sharpshooter but is incredibly tunnel visioned when it comes to the other facets of the game and as such he tends to go missing in tight matches.
With this in mind, it is hard to see Tottenham scoring more than one, but what about Palace? For all their defensive prowess, they leave a lot to be desired when attacking. However, Tottenham are the second worst team in the air in the league and this could count against them. Likewise, if Tottenham fail to score early they could get frustrated, commit too many men forward and get hit on the counter.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Crystal Palace