Tim Sherwood’s men beat their London rivals 2-0 at White Hart Lane on Saturday, but put in a distinctly ordinary display in the opening exchanges.
Three points for Tottenham against Crystal Palace will be much welcomed by the White Hart Lane faithful, but Saturday’s performance was less than vintage from the hosts.
Second-half goals from Christian Eriksen and Jermain Defoe secured victory, but Tim Sherwood’s side were lucky to go into the half-time interval still at parity.
Obviously Jason Puncheon’s penalty miss was a massive let-off, but the collective display from the Spurs side was very ordinary.
At the back, Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches looked susceptible to through balls from the first minute, while the usually dependable Kyle Walker was uncharacteristically dreadful at right-back.
The side are crying out for defensive talisman Jan Vertonghen to return to the fold, and the Belgian was missed more than ever on Saturday.
At the other end of the pitch, Spurs did not look to have the required weaponry to break down a regimented Palace side, with Emmanuel Adebayor off the pace and Roberto Soldado adding to his average start to life in England.
Young French midfield Nabil Bentaleb was once more given a start in the side, and was arguably the standout player in the win. The enforcer is not in the team to be a match-winner or create, but went about his business well and ensured that Spurs kept possession with an accurate range of passing.
Bentaleb was unlucky not to be Spurs’ scoring catalyst, with a curling shot from distance rattling off the Palace post and somehow not find the back of the net.
Given the emphatic defeats by Manchester City and Liverpool this season, to consider the Palace showing as a contender for the worst 45 minutes of the season shows how lacklustre the hosts were.
The second-half showing was better after the inevitable rollicking the side will have taken from Sherwood, and the players will be keen to forget the first-half showing.
The fact that Spurs picked up three points without playing well is an encouraging sign, but had Palace been more ruthless in front of goal the story could have been different. Sherwood still has work to do to improve his side, and will hope that important players return from injury in the near future.
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