Was this the shock of this round of the FA Cup? Tottenham were the form team coming into the tie against Crystal Palace but it was the Eagles who took the win thanks to a strike from defender Martin Kelly at the stroke of half-time.
Tottenham though did all the running and were unlucky not to have scored when Dele Alli saw his header saved off the line and also saw his strike come off both posts. Tottenham didn’t start with Toby Alderweireld and decided to play Eric Dier in the heart of the defence with Kevin Wimmer.
That didn’t do very well for the team and they looked far from the side that had conceded only 20 goals in the league this season. Alan Pardew though will be extremely proud of his men as he dreams of taking Palace to the FA Cup final for the first time since 1990.
Tottenham though have to regroup themselves as they face Fiorentina in midweek in the Europa League. We look back at the game and provide the three things we learned:
No messing with the defence
It was a surprise to see Toby Alderweireld being left out of the starting XI but Pochettino might have thought of giving the Belgian a rest but playing Eric Dier in centre-back was a move that did not end too well for the team.
Dier had played the entire season in midfield and shifting him to his older position didn’t really help Spurs all that much. Tottenham should have won the game, but Palace took the one good chance they had and held on for well. Hopefully, Pochettino won’t have to make such changes anymore for the rest of the season.
Greater onus on the Europa League and Premier League
While the team didn’t really play all that different, they did give a lot of chances to the fringe players. Son and Bentaleb got starts while we already spoke about shifting Dier to the defence. Pochettino had to rotate the squad around to keep his team fresh.
Tottenham have to finish in the top four to guarantee a place in the Champions League which would have been the number one priority for Pochettino at the start of the season and the only other way of doing this is to win the Europa League. The FA Cup would have been great in the cabinet but the Champions League is a greater prize, maybe getting knocked out will help Tottenham in the long run.
Palace somehow survive a Tottenham barrage
Tottenham had more than 65% possession in the game and had a number of shots on goal but somehow they failed to score against a resolute defence. Alan Pardew surely drilled the defensive aspect into his men well but Tottenham should have scored at least once.
Spurs hit the bar, had a couple of great chances saved but the adage of a bit of luck needed to win the cup came true once again. Portsmouth did it well a few years ago to lift the cup and should have been knocked out by Manchester United, could this be that kind of season for Palace?