Crystal Palace 2 Tottenham 1: Alan Pardew could have no complaints about a homecoming that went exactly to plan.
The new Crystal Palace manager, however, knows the club’s activity during the remaining days of the transfer window will be decisive in determining whether the more important target of avoiding relegation is achieved.
Certainly, the evidence of the second half suggested this Palace squad is capable of repeating its feat of last season, when Tony Pulis oversaw a transformation from basket case into a team capable of upsetting anyone.
Like Pulis, Pardew will attempt to inject more belief into a group of players used to disappointment. But he is keen to do things his way and the post-match call for more “mavericks” and praise for Wilfried Zaha’s dazzling contribution as a late substitute confirmed his approach differs from that of last season’s saviour.
Zaha is on loan from Manchester United and still battling to repair confidence battered by a chastening 18 months. If the winger can be coaxed back to his best form, he will have a major impact on Palace’s fortunes. “When you go to Manchester United, it’s difficult, he’s been out on loan and perhaps it hasn’t gone as well as he hoped at the start, but you’d expect that. But he needs to get his confidence back and that will do him no harm today,” said the manager.
Pardew knows he needs to add firepower to a squad lacking cutting edge. He offered praise for the efforts of Glenn Murray, another player attempting to reestablish himself at the club after spending time on loan at Reading. But the manager wants to bring in at least one more forward although he has accepted defeat in a bid to sign Liverpool’s Rickie Lambert and distanced himself from a move from Jermain Defoe.
“I did have a conversation with Brendan Rodgers but I don’t think Rickie is going anywhere,” said Pardew. “I think Rickie is staying there to try and win his position and I have no doubt he could do that. I haven’t spoken to Jermain personally but I know him from my West Ham days. It will be interesting to see, if he comes on the market, where he pitches in. He’ll probably have a few choices.”
Palace had enjoyed a moment of good fortune when referee Anthony Taylor decided Benjamin Stambouli had fouled Joe Ledley, allowing Dwight Gayle to equalise from the penalty spot and cancel out Harry Kane’s 48th minute opening goal.
Zaha’s most significant contribution was the twisting run and pass that allowed Jason Puncheon to create space near the edge of the Tottenham area and beat the excellent Hugo Lloris with the 80th minute goal that proved to be the match-winner. The resilience shown to engineer the turnaround was as impressive as Tottenham’s collapse was alarming for Mauricio Pochettino. Spurs arrived on the back of a victory over Chelsea and with a six-game unbeaten run, prompting the manager to talk up their chances of a third-place finish. The second half display suggested otherwise.
“There’s no point winning against Chelsea if we lose here,” said Kane, whose finish enhanced his growing reputation. “It’s very stupid that we dropped points here. When we get close to fourth place, we can’t make the jump to the fourth place. There’s no psychological barrier. We were very fit and motivated but the second half didn’t work.”
Spurs have the opportunity to bounce back against Burnley on Wednesday in the FA Cup third-round replay. And with a Capital One cup semi-final with Sheffield United also looming, this defeat should be viewed in the context.
“We have to go for the fourth place and we are still playing in the other competitions,” added Kane. “We’ll have to go for fourth place and a trophy.”
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Speroni 6; Kelly 7, Delaney 9, Dann 8, Ward 7; McArthur 7, Bannan 6 (Guedioura 46, 6), Ledley 7; Puncheon 8, Murray6 (Zaha 74, 8), Gayle 8 (Campbell 87, 6).
TOTTENHAM (4-2-3-1): Lloris 8; Walker 6, Fazio 5, Vertonghen 6, Rose 7; Stambouli 5 (Soldado 75, 6), Dembele 6 ; Townsend 6 (Capoue 69,6), Eriksen 6 , Chadli 7; Kane.8
Referee: A Taylor 6.
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