It was a tough day at the office and one that revealed plenty to pick the bones out of, so here are our five things that we learnt from the beating.
1. Saturday’s game was the complete antithesis of what we have come to expect of Palace under Roy Hodgson away from home. Spurs disrupted the Eagles’ shape early on leaving their visitors looking disjointed and disorganised throughout. Palace also lost their defensive discipline, allowing the home team to drag them out of position at will and create a plethora of chances which in truth could have resulted in an even more damaging scoreline. After the highs of Old Trafford, this was a worrying return to the performance we saw against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, and one that Palace cannot afford to keep replicating this season.
2. Given how bad Palace were, it feels harsh to single out a player who has not started a Premier League game for seven months, but on Saturday Mamadou Sakho looked exactly that. The Frenchman seemed to be turning in treacle for the first goal as he tried to deal with Toby Alderweireld’s routine ball over the top for Son Heung-min, and there was a general sense of him being overwhelmed by the pace of the game throughout the opening 45 minutes. That started to sort itself out as the match wore on, but there were still two instances in the second half where he sloppily gave up possession in Palace’s final third only to be let off the hook on both occasions. Sakho has earned the right to a bit of patience – his career stats at Palace suggest he won’t play this poorly again – but he will need to show signs of improvement given how much depth the Eagles now have at centre back.
3. Sakho, though, was not the only one who struggled to cope with Tottenham’s intensity. Palace’s midfield were completely overrun in the first half and didn’t apply anywhere near enough pressure when the home side had the ball. For the third goal, when Spurs managed to go from back to front in the space of around 15 seconds, the away side’s midfield was nowhere to be seen as the home team charged unchallenged up the pitch before Son volleyed home his second of the game. The Eagles perhaps missed James McArthur’s ability to press the ball, but even in his absence Luka Milivojevic, Jeffrey Schlupp and Cheikhou Kouyate made it far too easy for the hosts to receive the ball unchallenged in dangerous central areas.
4. Wilfried Zaha was one of few Palace players who looked like he hadn’t given up after half an hour. Such was the nature of the opening 30 minutes that the Ivorian only seemed to touch the ball in Palace’s own final third during the first half, but in doing so he was displaying a willingness to help the team. Once the game was admittedly gone, Zaha started getting more opportunities to torment Danny Rose, who was one of three Spurs players who ended up getting booked for fouling the Palace winger. There will be accusations that Zaha is playing to put himself in the shop window, but given that he is destined to leave within the next 12 months, the Eagles will hope to be the beneficiaries of Wilf trying to show the world how good he is.
5. Palace have been a team of many stripes this season. When they’ve been good, they’ve been very good; when they’ve been bad, they’ve bordered on abysmal. However, when any of the big six get it right at home, they are hard for any other side in the league to cope with. Palace might not have been at their best, but it should not be ignored that Spurs were very close to theirs. With that in mind, Roy Hodgson needs to draw a line under the performance in North London and ready his side for a run of three games in which Palace have a more realistic hope of picking up points. Whether they are able to do that will very much depend on which Palace turns up.