Things are falling into place perfectly for Ange Postecoglou. A routine second win over their London rivals in the space of five days thanks to Joel Ward’s own goal and Son Heung-min’s eighth league goal of the season put Tottenham five points clear at the top of the ranking and wonders how far they can go. season.
It wasn’t exactly the free-flowing football that this Spurs team made their mantra under their exciting new manager, but after being frustrated by some dogged Palace defending in the first half, a moment of inspiration from James Maddison finally found the breakthrough they were. looking for. A visit to this ground is never an easy proposition for title contenders, but even with Roy Hodgson celebrating his 500th game in charge of English clubs in all competitions, Tottenham passed their latest test with flying colors, even after the goal late consolation from Jordan Ayew.
While Tottenham fans are getting used to it, Postecoglou appeared completely calm about his team’s late arrival after getting stuck in Friday night’s traffic during their trip south of the river, acknowledging that ” these things happen in life” in his pre-match interview. Only Bill Nicholson’s 1961 double winners have made a better start to a top-flight campaign after nine matches, but the Australian was forced to give Ben Davies a first Premier League start in place of Destiny Udogie , injured, in defense. Yves Bissouma’s return from suspension restored Postecoglou’s preferred midfield axis alongside Pape Sarr, while Hodgson opted for just one change from the Palace side who were beaten 4-0 at Newcastle last week with Jeffrey Schlupp returning from injury.
The former England manager admitted his counterpart’s successful start to life at Spurs was no surprise to him, having previously clashed when Postecoglou was in charge of Australia in 2016. But despite the lack of creativity from Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise, Hodgson had promised a response from his players against the league leaders.
Palace certainly looked to rise to the challenge under the lights and could have taken the lead twice inside the opening 10 minutes. Will Hughes looked like he had scored on goal, but still managed to play through Jordan Ayew after struggling to get ahead of the Tottenham defense, only for Guglielmo Vicario to deny the Ghanaian striker. It took a better save from the Italian to repel Odsonne Édouard’s shot 90 seconds later.
However, Tottenham slowly found their feet, with a probing run down the left flank by James Maddison ending when his cross was cleared by Jefferson Lerma with Son Heung-min lurking. Despite a comical moment where he completely missed the ball while attempting a cross to the delight of the home fans, Sarr was particularly impressive in midfield as Spurs began to establish their dominance. Édouard was perhaps lucky to escape without warning after clashing with Spurs centre-backs Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven in the space of a few minutes.
It took a timely interception from Lerma to sweep the ball away from Maddison just as he was about to shoot from the edge of the box before Édouard’s touch dropped him inside the box. A series of corners ended with a Joachim Andersen header well over as Palace finished the first half strongly.
Tottenham failed to muster a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes and Postecoglou responded to his side’s lackluster performance by withdrawing Davies for Emerson Royal at the break. Hodgson had only tasted victory against Spurs once before in 20 previous Premier League encounters, but must have sensed a real opportunity when Schlupp’s cross almost deflected into the path of Édouard. But those hopes were immediately dashed when Maddison found space inside the Palace area and his cross was inadvertently turned into his own net by Ward despite a lack of pressure around him.
The hosts almost responded immediately to their setback, but Marc Guéhi misdirected his header from a Will Hughes corner. Hodgson turned to young winger Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and the 21-year-old’s first act was to dispossess Maddison in his own half. But after working to 0-0 draws in successive matches against Fulham and Nottingham Forest, Palace’s chances of finding a way back into the game looked bleak. This was underlined when Son doubled Tottenham’s lead by completing a flowing move down the left involving Maddison and a deft touch from substitute Brennan Johnson to set up the South Korean for a tap-in.
Palace continued to push forward in hopes of setting up a grand final and had hope in injury time when Ayew struck spectacularly from the edge of the penalty area, with VAR taking several minutes to confirm that he did not use his hand to control the ball. ball. “We are top of the league,” chanted the away fans when Tottenham’s victory was confirmed. How long they can stay there will be fascinating to watch.