Crystal Palace suffered a 2-1 loss against league leaders Tottenham Hotspur on Friday night at Selhurst Park.
An own goal from captain Joel Ward in the 53r-minute, following an earlier defensive mix-up, was followed by a Son Heung-Min 66th-minute strike to put the visitors 2-0 up
Palace pulled one back in additional time through Jordan Ayew but suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League:
Here are Andrew McSteen’s four takeaways from Selhurst Park:
SPURS ARE STILL THE BOGEY TEAM WITH A BLUNTED EAGLES ATTACK
Spurs have now inflicted 18 Premier League defeats on the Eagles in their 29 clashes, the same as Liverpool – and third-most behind Chelsea (22) and Manchester United (19).
The north London side are responsible for 7.29 per cent of all 247 defeats suffered by the SE25 club in their 550 Premier League matches to date.
With the departure of kryptonite Harry Kane, who had scored 11 times in 18 Premier League matches against the South London side – his best figures against any club in his Premier League career – Eagles fans were hoping that dismal record would change.
But step in Son Heung-Min.
His eventual winner on Friday night was his eighth in 15 league games against Palace and his eighth league goal of the season – the same amount the Eagles have scored as a team this season.
The last time Palace beat Spurs in the Premier League was in September 2021, when Odsonne Edouard scored a debut brace in a 3-0 win.
The former Celtic striker looked set to add to his four league goals this season on Friday with a shot from the edge of the box early on, but a smart save from Guglielmo Vicario denied him.
This proved to be just one of three shots on target in the whole game, including Ayew’s consolation strike – highlighting the continued lack of goalscoring threat for Palace.
With boss Roy Hodgson’s main attacking outlets Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise still missing, Will Hughes was pushed into a supporting role behind Edouard. It looked to be causing their opponents problems early on, but it fizzled out.
The introductions of the attacking Matheus Franca, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Jean-Philippe Mateta in the second half did not really trouble the league leaders.
The result meant that Hodgson, in his 500th game in charge of an English club, stayed on just one Premier League win over Spurs, now in 21 attempts.
NO COMMAND PERFORMANCE IN FRONT OF JOSHUA HARRIS
Crystal Palace director and co-owner Josh Harris made a rare appearance in SE25 under the Friday night lights of Selhurst Park.
Harris recently led a consortium, including NBA basketball legend Magic Johnson, to purchase the Washington Commanders American football NFL franchise for a reported $6billion – making it the most expensive sports team in history – and he will have seen the limitations of his London football club squad laid bare.
Palace fans will be hoping that some of that money can find its way into the January transfer window pot.
HODGSON’S FAITH TESTED
After a disappointing 4-0 loss away in the north east last Saturday, Hodgson could have made changes to his starting 11 for Spurs.
But he made just one – Jeffrey Schlupp taking the place of the benched Mateta.
On one hand, Hodgson did not have a big squad to rotate, but that fact he kept 10 of the 11 starting line-up highlighted his faith in the players who had suffered their worst defeat of the season.
That faith did not last long, though, with the Eagles boss making five substitutions in the second half, the first time he had made that many in the league since away at Southampton last season.
Hodgson singled out those substitutions, which included the 21-year-old pair of Jesurun Rak-Sakyi (60th minute) and Naouirou Ahamada (70th), plus 19-year-old Matheus Franca (79th), in his post-match media conference, saying “…they didn’t do anything for us at all, really. We became much weaker when I made the substitutions.”
Hodgson also admitted he took chances and praised the fighting qualities of his team, before tempering expectations on the young Brazilian Franca, saying he felt sorry for him and that “…people have tried to imbue him with qualities that we can’t expect to see from him”.
The comments about the substitutions were slightly off Hodgson’s usual well-thought-out post-match critiques of players and performances, which disappointed him.
Only time will tell if this will motivate or demotivate the players to be better and if this proves to be evidence of Hodgson’s managerial experience and motivational techniques.
HIGHLIGHTS UNDER THE LIGHTS
Following Jordan Ayew’s injury-time expert strike to bring the game within one, even goalkeeper Sam Johnstone came up to help with the attack.
And with 102 minutes played and the home side searching for an equaliser, the ball was pushed forward by Ahamada, then flicked on across the goal by Mateta, to Franca.
On his home debut, and in front of the Holmesdale Road, the Brazilian could only shoot over on the stretch, with an awkwardly bouncing ball and under pressure from defender Pedro Porro.
The game was over, but this late surge – which had James Maddison on the Spurs bench hiding his face with his hands in nervousness – was reminiscent in part of the famous ‘Crystanbul’ 3-3 draw with Liverpool back at home in 2014.
The watching Mile Jedinak, who played for Palace in that game and is now with the Spurs coaching staff, would have known all about the SE25 magic at that point.
This fighting spirit and a tight first half, which had seen the Eagles defence restrict Spurs to no shots on target, are positives to take going forward as they look to address their form away at Burnley next week.
PICTURES: ROB AVIS
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