As the Lilywhites enter their first home game of the 2016/17 season, there is likely to be a few changes to the eleven that started the first game away to Everton. Crystal Palace possess less outright attacking threat than the Toffees, and having lost two of their best players in Mile Jedinak and Yannick Bolasie, Alan Pardew’s side will be far from its strongest. Couple this with a fantastic performance from new signing Vincent Janssen at Goodison Park, and Pochettino is likely to lineup in a fluid 4-1-3-2, which will change to a more defensively compact 4-2-2-2 when his side loses the ball.
GK: Michel Vorm. The only change that Pochettino will be forced to make is the exclusion of the club captain, Hugo Lloris, after a hamstring strain that will see him sidelined for around four weeks. Vorm is a talented goalkeeper, and performed well at Everton, although a lack of first team action may mean he is less than 100% ready. Spurs fans will be hoping he has a quiet afternoon anyway.
RB: Kyle Walker. After a good performance in the opener, in which he notched an assist, Walker will this time be defending against the Palace left side which is likely to feature Wilfried Zaha. Walker’s pace will be vital in preventing the quick winger from getting in behind the backline, and if he can do this he may be in for a comfortable game – Zaha’s technical ability is unlikely to faze Walker. Getting forward, he is faster and stronger than Palace LB Papa Souare, so he will look to be a good attacking outlet as well as a solid defensive choice.
CBs: Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. No need to change this – when the Belgian pair are on top of their game, nothing gets past them. Though they’ll be disappointed with conceding last week, they’ll be looking to push on and keep clean sheets against sides like Palace this season. This means dealing with the threat of Connor Wickham centrally, and potentially Christian Benteke, who may have some role if his transfer from Liverpool is completed in time. Despite this, Alderweireld will be looking to use his exquisite long range passing as best he can, and restrict the influence that Jason Puncheon has on the game.
LB: Danny Rose. With the Champions League commitments not yet underway, rotation of fullbacks is not yet necessary in Premier League games. Rose and Walker are almost certain to start again this week, and offer the width that comes at such a premium in a formation utilising inverted wingers. Rose will be up against Joel Ward, and will look to use his pace and power to give the Palace man real problems. Defensively, he will be looking to contain Andros Townsend, the former Spur who was well known for cutting inside and having a speculative shot during his time at Spurs.
CDM: Eric Dier. In the 4-1-3-2, Eric Dier’s passing ability as the 1 will be vital in connecting moves together. The ease at which he slots into central defence to form a back three when either fullback moves forward will also be an essential part of Spurs’ play; it allows the likes of Walker and Rose to get forward down either flank without compromising the defence. For this reason, Dier gets the nod over Victor Wanyama, but given the sheer amount of game time Dier has had over the last year, expect to see the Kenyan feature for at least half an hour – especially if Spurs lead. If the game is a close affair, then the Kenyan’s physicality will be needed to disrupt play, and he will play an enforcer role with less focus on connecting attacking moves together.
LAM: Christian Eriksen. Contract negotiations are almost complete, according to Mauricio Pochettino himself, so the creative playmaker’s future at White Hart Lane looks guaranteed. His incisive passing and ability from dead ball situations create goals out of nothing, and Eriksen will be looking to kickstart his season with a goal against a Crystal Palace side with defensive frailties. Eriksen will be eyeing up Yohann Cabaye, the deep lying Palace creator who has looked uncertain in possession and has occasionally been a hindrance to the side in this respect, to press high, and will look to assert himself on the game. The importance of Eriksen to Spurs cannot be understated.
CAM: Dele Alli. Despite a poor display against Everton, I expect the tenacious Englishman to retain his place in the starting eleven. His wonderful goal in the reverse fixture last season, which won Spurs’ goal of the year, was a thing of real beauty, and Alli will be looking to get himself amongst the goals here against a Palace backline that will struggle to cope with him if he is on top of his game. His technical ability, combined with his desire to compete and to win, are invaluable assets to a Spurs side, and playing behind two strikers will mean his creative ability will be on full display.
RAM: Erik Lamela. This formation may well be one that showcases the Argentine’s more technical abilities. Due to the sheer number of central players, Lamela and Eriksen may well play as more standard wingers to provide space within which Alli, Kane and Janssen will work. Even if this isn’t the case, Lamela’s hunger to win the ball, combined with his physical prowess and goalscoring instinct will be so important to Spurs both in this game and over the coming season. He is already off the mark for the season, with a fantastic header at Goodison Park, and will be looking to add to this come 3pm on Saturday.
ST: Harry Kane. Now with a strike partner, Kane’s linkup play as well as his clinical finishing ability will be utilised with greater support up top. He will be looking to avoid the slow start to the season that happened last year, and this may well be the fixture to do it in – a likely Palace centreback pairing of Scott Dann and Damien Delaney will play to Kane’s physical strengths, while any half chance will result in a shot on goal from the Englishman. His style very much complements that of his strike partner, Vincent Janssen, and the pairing has goals in them if last week is anything to go by.
ST: Vincent Janssen. After an impressive display at Goodison Park, where his appearance changed the game, Janssen will be looking to lead the line in this London derby. He came very close to scoring his first goal in Spurs colours at Everton, but with his goalscoring prowess – proven by his time at AZ Alkmaar – goals will come, and this would be a great game for the Dutchman to open his account. The two striker formation will cause Crystal Palace defensive problems, and Janssen will be looking to endear himself to his new fans with a goal or two.