Tactical Preview: Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur

A 2-0 win on Wednesday at the King Power Stadium saw Spurs through to the 4th round of the FA Cup, in which they will play away to Colchester United on January 30th. In the meantime, the Lilywhites will travel to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace in the league. 

Palace sit in 8th place on 31 points, eight points behind 4th place Spurs. Pardew’s men have struggled to score goals this season, with only Swansea, West Brom, and Aston Villa scoring fewer goals. But the Palace defense has been solid, only allowing 24 goals (Spurs have allowed the fewest, 18 goals) – in fact, City’s goals in a 4-0 win over the side last weekend amounted to 16% of the goals conceded by Palace through the entire campaign. 

Look for Palace to line up in some variation of a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, with three central midfielders, two wingers, and a forward. The goalkeeper is Welshman, Wayne Hennessey. Hennessey replaced Alex McCarthy in the starting role earlier this season, and has made 16 starting appearances this campaign.

The center backs are Damien Delaney and Scott Dann. At left back is Pape Souaré and at right back is Joel Ward. Neither offer much in terms of offensive contributions, the two combine to create only 1.1 chances per 90 minutes, though Ward does have two goals. 

The defensive midfield consists of Joe Ledley and James McArthur. In front of them is a key man for Crystal Palace, Yohan Cabaye. Cabaye leads Crystal Palace in goals (5), despite playing from the central midfield. He’s also second only to Jason Puncheon in chances created per 90 (1.7). 

Crystal Palace attacks down the wings 77% of the time, more than any other Premier League side. Tottenham’s fullbacks will have their hands full with wingers, Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha. Puncheon leads the team in assists (3) and chances created per 90 (2). 

Pardew has several options up top – three different strikers have started the last three Premier League matches: Connor Wickham, Fraizer Campbell, and Bakary Sako. Sako could potentially be out for the match through a knock, so look for Wickham to start on Saturday. Wickham has one goal and two assists while Sako has two goals and one assist. 

Spurs will be confident coming off the win at Leicester on Wednesday, with Son and Chadli both scoring. Mason, Pritchard, and N’Jie will be unavailable through injury come Saturday, but that leaves Poch with many options. I’d expect the same XI that started against Sunderland, assuming Poch continues to rotate the fullbacks during multigame weeks. Because Davies and Walker played Wednesday, look for Rose and Trippier to start Saturday. 

The Spurs Projected Goal Difference is +.08, slightly favoring Spurs but projecting a draw for this match. 

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