With Spurs heading south of the river for an FA Cup tie with the Eagles, TEB had a chat with Spurs fan and Sky Sports’ very own Michael Bridge to get his views on the season so far and thoughts on the game.
Q. How has the season been for Spurs so far?
It has been a very decent season so far for Spurs but I am talking off the back of a penalty shoot out defeat to Chelsea, but you have to take into account no Son Heung-Min, no Dele Alli, no Harry Kane, you’re losing 95% of your teams goals. You take three of Manchester City’s best players out – Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne -, three of Liverpool’s best players out – Sadio Mane, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino – they would struggle too. When you consider that, Spurs did well to even get to penalties. Let’s not forget, Spurs are third in the league, ahead of Chelsea, ahead Arsenal and ahead of United.
If Spurs finish in the top four after the summer problems, players returning late from the World Cup, injury problems and the well documentated stadium problems, I think they will have had a brilliant season. So far so good.
Spurs fans of course want to win a trophy, and the FA Cup is the only realistic opportunity of doing that. Palace is going to be a very tough game off the back of playing the cup semi-final on Thursday.
Q. What did you make of the game at Selhurst Park earlier in the season?
There was not a lot in it, it was a very scrappy game. You were without Wilfried Zaha, and you miss him when he is not playing. Jordan Ayew ducked out of a challenge and Juan Foyth scored as a result. It was tight but I did not see Palace offer a lot going forward and Spurs ended up being quite comfortable. It was another of those annoying games at home for Palace where they’ve not got anything out of it, and I’ve seen a lot of them this season.
Q. What are your hopes for the rest of the season?
Spurs need to get Kane and Alli back fit. Arguably Alli is a bigger miss than Kane, fans know about the strikers ankle problems as he has them every season. Alli does so much in midfield, he has a brilliant goal ratio and assists, well ahead of the Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Son is a miss too as he often goes on a blistering run when Kane if forced out and he will come back into the forward line. In terms of a good finish for Spurs it is top four and after that, to keep hold of Pochettino in the summer. Anything else would be a bonus and remember, we are still in the Champions League. They won’t win it so the priority is a top four finish in the league.
Q. Has the need to play at Wembley at all, let alone for it to be extended, been a hinderance?
For the fans, it has been a real hinderance, they are fed up with it. On the pitch, Spurs have are one of, if not the, best performing team away from home. At home it has been very sketchy. I say home, I mean Wembley! They did get used to it, at the start of last season everyone said it was curse, when they started playing well everyone said it’s not fair. Everyone wants to go home. It is costing Spurs a fortune as well as all the problems with the new stadium. On top of that, Brent Council restrict the attendance to 51,000 so with 41,000 spare it looks empty. Everyone looking forward to getting home now, so the sooner the better.
Q. Who has been the stand out Spurs player?
That is difficult, when you’re near the top, it means collectively people have played well. There have been a lot of injuries this season but the one player that has really stood out is Christian Eriksen. People are really seeing what a world class player he has become, he literally makes everything tick in the midfield, when he doesn’t play, Spurs miss him when he doesn’t play. Everyone knows what Kane can do, what Alli can do but Eriksen is simply outstanding. Spurs need to nail him down in the summer on a long term contract.
Q. Do Spurs have any needs ahead of the transfer window and how active do you think they will be?
Spurs definately need to be more active than any other club in the Premier League. They have injuries galore, one fit striker, sold Moussa Dembele to China, light in the centre of midfield, picking up injuries, now Moussa Sissoko has picked up an injury, and lots of them are muscle injuries as well. Nine Spurs players were at the latter stages of the World Cup, more than any other club and while that is something to be proud of, when the competition finishes you start to think about your club. None of them really had a break, and you’re seeing that now with the injuries they are getting so Spurs really need to be active, whether they will be or not is another matter.
Q. If you could pick one Palace player for Spurs to sign in January, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Wilfried Zaha, you all know how much of a game changer he is and while that is not something we have seen much of lately, but he is still one that would be a real addition for Spurs. Palace miss people in midfield, particularly Yohan Cabaye so I woudn’t pick anyone from the midfield. Spurs know all about Andros Townsend, he is in a good place at the moment but Wilf is the one player that would go for well over £60million.
Q. Name one Spurs player and one Palace player that you believe will be a threat in this game?
Hard to tell as Spurs are likely to make a lot of changes, might even see Eriksen rested with the games coming thick and fast with both teams in action again midweek. I will have to say Eriksen, he is the key player at the moment, and one of very few fit players! Harry Winks is a player who is really coming on, one of the first names on the team sheet and playing for England, makes us tick in midfield.
For Palace, does Roy rest players or not? I don’t know but he went strong against Grimsby so would expect to do so again for this one. That means Zaha could be the difference again and you might want to note Andros Townsend who will want to prove a point against a former club on television.
Q. Perhaps you could share your opinions on Palace so far this season?
I think Palace have slowly done okay. It is difficult because when you are a club outside the top six, what is a good season? I go absolutely mad when I see certain sides in mid-table with no threat of relegation rest players in cups. I saw Leicester in the League Cup quarter final against Manchester City rest players and went out on penalties – if they had played a couple of first teamers they could be in the final – I just don’t get it half the time.
Would I put Palace in that category? Yes and no. They still kind of look over their shoulder but you listen to fans, they still want to finish mid-table but still want a cup run as well. They would fill out every away end if they had an away tie, so I think a good cup run and even, why not, go on and win it and obviously keep their Premier League status.
Q. Your prediction?
I really don’t want a draw as that means a replay, still can’t believe we have replays in this day and age. I will go for Palace to win 2-1 as I think Tottenham have had a very tough schedule lately, playing every mid-week almost, just had two tough games against Chelsea in the League Cup, which went to penalties, still have injuries galore while Son will still be travelling back from the Asia Cup. There will be no better time to play Spurs.