Tottenham did not have to win spectacularly or with great skill. Less than three months into the season, their weekly goal is already clear: simply win. Goal achieved; on to the next.
This Friday night, beneath the lights at Selhurst Park, they defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 after overcoming a challenging, sticky-looking match. It was made thus by Palace, too. Though Jordan Ayew’s late goal kept them in the lead in the Premier League, they increased their lead to five points thanks to goals from Joel Ward, Heung-min Son, and a close-range striker.
Roy Hodgson and Ange Postecoglou will undoubtedly be disappointed with this performance as much as they were with Palace, but Tottenham won the crucial points, and on occasions like these, it is what matters most.
while Arsenal visited Selhurst Park in August, they only prevailed under the lights thanks to a penalty kick from Martin Odegaard; their North London rivals experienced a similar level of trouble while traveling south of the Thames.
Tottenham had the advantage in possession throughout the goalless first half, but the hosts missed most of the obvious opportunities.
Jordan Ayew was fed by Will Hughes, and when he hammered the ball close enough to Guglielmo Vicario, the Italian was able to parry it. Palace reappeared, Odsonne Edouard gained space, and Vicario skillfully tipped his swivel shot to safety, causing him to fall to the ground immediately.
Given that they had a fantastic opportunity to go five points ahead at the top, the traveling Spurs supporters may have been a little agitated in those early moments and for the entire first forty-five minutes of play.
When Marc Guehi darted across to the left-back position to slip in on Dejan Kulusevski and send the ball out for a throw-in, it was the epitome of Hodgson’s strategy for Palace. Hodgson, who was managing an English team for the 500th time, and his dependable deputy manager Ray Lewington praised Guehi’s tenacity. Palace had settled in. The Spurs begged for room.
They finally rediscovered it in the second half, or at least enough of it to score two goals in a span of 13 minutes, ending Palace’s chances of finishing higher than eleventh in the Premier League standings.
Maybe luck was always going to be necessary for Spurs to break the deadlock in this sometimes challenging venue to visit, or maybe their current situation explained why they were fortunate to have such luck. In either case, Joel Ward was caught off guard by James Maddison’s insane effort, which went into the net. The captain of Palace hoofing behind his side.
Hodgson threw Jesrun Rak-Sakyi, 21, off balance. New legs, a new avenue for Palace to attack? It did not matter. Coming off the bench to make his injury comeback, Brennan Johnson linked with Maddison before tucking the ball for Son Heung-min to score. Son had been unremarkable up until this point, but he now had eight league goals this year.
In stoppage time, Ayew surprised everyone by volleying a consolation goal past Vicario, despite the fact that he controlled the ball with his arm and VAR seemed to have made the incorrect ruling that allowed it.
If Palace’s loss to Newcastle last Saturday (4–0) was a disaster, then this was not. However, they were equally useless with this outcome.
Spurs also produced nothing close to the brilliant play that propelled them to a 2-0 success over Fulham on Monday, but this triumph was just as valuable.