No one can have been failed to be impressed by Tottenham’s superb win over Real Madrid in the Champions League game midweek – but their attention now turns back to the Premier League – and a home game against Crystal Palace that we feel is much bigger than their illustrious matchup of Wednesday.
WHY THE GAME IS BIGGER
After their loss at Old Trafford last week, Spurs simply cannot afford to lose any more ground at this stage of the season. They already sit 8 points behind leaders Manchester City, and three points behind second placed Manchester United. None of those gaps are insurmountable after 10 games, but to drop points at home to the division’s bottom team would be devastating.
SURELY ONE LOSS – EVEN DRAW – DOESNT MATTER THAT MUCH NOW?
In isolation, no. But when the fixture list throws up Chelsea v Man Utd and Man City v Arsenal on the same weekend, then this is the time to show your class and be ruthless. Spurs could move back into second place and be only five points behind City come Sunday evening….but equally could drop to fifth and be eleven points off top spot. But even forgetting about the league table, this is about making a statement. Spurs flattered to deceive against United last Saturday – but were sublime against Madrid on Wednesday. The jury remains out for many people in deciding exactly where Tottenham are in the domestic ranks, let alone on the European stage.
A crushing of Palace will go a long way to declaring that Tottenham are the ‘Real’ deal – yes, its only Palace – but this is the sort of game where Spurs often struggle and after Wednesday, expectation will be through the roof. They must deal with this and make that much needed statement to their rivals.
EVEN WITH A WIN, SURELY THERE IS NO CATCHING MANCHESTER CITY?
Tottenham, indeed all their Premier League rivals, must assume that at some point City will hit a flat spot and drop points. If (when) this happens, at least one team must be there to pressure the Sky Blues and threaten to take that top spot away from them. Tottenham will feel they can be that team – much as United and Chelsea will, if not Arsenal and Liverpool also. But if any of these teams are too far back, or drop points of their own, the City will be pretty much be handed the title to them and wont have to win it themselves.
Wednesday’s win over Madrid assured Tottenham of progression to the knockout phase with two games to play. A fantastic achievement in a so called ‘Group of Death’. But many English teams have, in the past, suffered a domestic hangover after European glory nights…..Tottenham, on the weekend where 4 ‘top’ clubs play each other, simply cannot afford this against Palace. It may not be the most attractive game on paper of the weekend – but it will be as fascinating to see just how they react, in what is, to our mind, a much bigger game than Madrid.
FORECAST : Tottenham 3 – 1 Crystal Palace