Christian Eriksen produced a scintillating long-range effort to lead Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park
Tottenham maintained pace with table-toppers Chelsea in the race to win the Premier League as they beat Crystal Palace in a hard-fought 1-0 win at Selhurst Park on Wednesday night that kept the gap to Antonio Conte’s men to four points.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were far from their domineering best on the night even though they commanded the bulk of the possession, as a stubborn Palace defence kept the Tottenham attack quiet for large parts of the match.
Crystal Palace 0-1 Spurs FT:
Chances created: 4-14
Pass accuracy: 61%-83%
Big win. pic.twitter.com/XT37ALBseu
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 26, 2017
But, just when it looked like Sam Allardyce’s men would be able to hold Tottenham to a draw, out came a long-range strike from Christian Eriksen’s boot out of nowhere that finally broke the deadlock with 12 minutes remaining in regulation time.
Thus, Tottenham earned a much needed 1-0 win that kept Chelsea within touching distance ahead of the crucial North London derby on Sunday. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at some of the major talking points that emerged out of the match.
Tottenham Continue To Mount The Pressure On Chelsea
Chelsea played before Tottenham in a gameweek for the first time in more than a month, meaning they had the chance to pile on the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino’s men by creating a sizable headway between them and their London rivals.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 26, 2017
And Antonio Conte’s men duly obliged as they comfortably beat Southampton 4-2 on Tuesday night to create a seven-point lead over Tottenham. So, heading into Wednesday’s match, Pochettino and his charges knew that anything other than three points will effectively end whatever chances they had of winning the title.
And for the first 78 minutes of the match, it looked like that was exactly what was going to happen, as Crystal Palace defended valiantly against the might of the visitors’ attack. But Christian Eriksen’s winner awarded them all the spoils from the game, keeping the gap to Chelsea to four points.
Thus, they still retain their chances of clinching the Premier League title for the first time since the competition began, however small they may be. This weekend will provide another big test for the two sides in the race to win the title and the results on Sunday will surely go a long way in deciding that race.
Christian Eriksen – The Man To Create The Decisive Impact
Chelsea came up trumps over Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal last Saturday, that kept alive their hopes of a double in Antonio Conte’s first season. On the flip side, it meant that Spurs now have just one competition to fight for – the Premier League.
Christian Eriksen’s last 13 games:
— bet365 (@bet365) April 26, 2017
Their immediate challenge on Wednesday had them facing another London Derby – that against Crystal Palace who are fighting for survival. And Sam Allardyce set his side up against Tottenham on Wednesday like no one else has for a long time, as with men behind the ball, the visitors struggled to create one decisive goalscoring opportunity.
However, just when it looked like they will have to face disappointment in yet another derby, Christian Eriksen proved just how gritty this Tottenham side has become one year on from their massive failure in the fag end of the previous season, as he unleashed a breathtaking long-range strike into the Palace net.
Eriksen often raises the bar towards the end of every campaign, and he has proved that in the last two games in particular and his form in the last six matches will go a long way in determining just how far Tottenham can sustain the challenge to win the Premier League title this season.
Tottenham Midfield Hustled
Tottenham’s attackers grab most of the headlines, with Harry Kane and Dele Alli setting the goalscoring charts on fire, alongside the visionary Christian Eriksen who often supplies them with the goods. Their defence is much revered too, as a unit that is the most hard to get past, boasting the best records in the last two seasons.
Someone please explain to me how Wanyama stayed on the pitch tonight? Clattenburg style incompetence from John Moss
— Neil Andrews (@neil_andrews84) April 26, 2017
Wanyama needs to be careful. Could have very easily been sent off there.
— Spurs In The Blood (@SpursInTheBlood) April 26, 2017
However, much of Tottenham’s success in the last two campaigns has been built on their midfield. Eric Dier has been a rock in front of his defenders, while Mousa Dembele keeps things ticking to connect defence with attack seamlessly. And Victor Wanyama’s addition has only added more steel in the centre of the pitch this season.
However, Crystal Palace, on Wednesday, provided a view into one way that can stop Tottenham in their tracks – or at least restrict the damage that they can do. Dembele, in particular, was marked in expert fashion by James McArthur, which kept his influence to a bare minimum.
Meanwhile, Victor Wanyama was hustled to no end, and he could be counted lucky to have not been sent off before he was eventually taken off at half-time. Eric Dier was the only saving grace, as he was at his solid best, but he’ll need his partners to show up on Sunday as the crucial derby against Arsenal beckons.
Crystal Palace Lose More Than Just The Match
April has been a telling month in Crystal Palace’s fight for survival. Three impressive wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have meant that they have rapidly climbed up the table to 12th place from the miseries of the drop zone that they were mired in for much of the campaign.
Sakho’s injury doesn’t look good.
— LFC Fans Corner (@LFCFansCorner) April 26, 2017
They’re still 2 points away from the magical 40-point mark, but for all intents and purposes it looks like they will be playing in the Premier League again next season. So, the loss to Tottenham on Wednesday does not really spell doom for them, but it is the loss of a key player that will hurt them the most.
On-loan Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho has introduced some much needed steel at the back for Palace. And his presence in the back-four has not only brought about an air of calm, it has also translated in results, with Palace losing just one out the seven games that he has played, conceding just 6 goals in these matches.
On Wednesday though, Palace might have seen the last of arguably their best player in the last two months as Sakho suffered what looked like a season-ending knee injury.
It goes without saying that Palace have lost a big presence on the field. But, more than losing an influential player, it is the kind of injury Sakho suffered that leaves people wondering when and where will he turn up on a football pitch again. We wish him all the best on his recovery.
Records Broken As More Beckon
Wednesday’s win not only kept Tottenham in the hunt for the Premier League title, it also saw them break new ground in the competition. That is because the three points ensured that they now have 74 points on the board – the most they have ever managed in a single season in the Premier League era.
74 – Tottenham have won 74 points in the Premier League this season; their best ever return in the competition. Flourishing. pic.twitter.com/QkY0eLh1Qq
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 26, 2017
That is another telling reminder of just how far the club has come since Mauricio Pochettino arrived at White Hart Lane in 2014, evolving from top 4 battlers to genuine contenders for the Premier League title.
They next face Arsenal in the second North London derby of the season, and they can make some more records with a win over their arch rivals on Sunday. Tottenham currently lie 14 points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League table and they look likely to finish ahead of them this season.
But, they can, to their own personal satisfaction, do that in the best possible way by beating them at White Hart Lane and ensuring that there’s no St. Totteringham’s Day for the first time in 22 years – before Arsene Wenger was even appointed at the helm at Arsenal.