The opening game of the season couldn’t have got any better for the new look Andre Villas-Boas Tottenham side as they defeated Crystal Palace 1-0. With three of four new summer signings starting, Spurs fans at Selhurst Park looked in for a treat however the Premier League new-boys had other ideas as to the severity of their defeat.
The game began quite franticly for the Lilywhites. Captain Michael Dawson endured a brief shaky spell resulting in a poor clearance however things began to look up for Spurs on the far side of the pitch as Lennon and Walker began to link play together well.
New boy Roberto Soldado looked up for a fight as he began to drop back on occasion to help push play forward, Crystal Palace did provide moments of panic in spells but the magnificent Hugo Lloris (whom was consistently good throughout the game) kept the ball well away from his goal after catching the ball well from a Palace free-kick.
Referee Mark Clattenburg was to do Spurs no favours. Despite numerous occasions where I felt myself crying in agony at the bizarre decisions, Clattenburg continued to give obscure fouls to the Eagles and showed fans that if Tottenham were to win today – they’d have to do it the hard way. Aaron Lennon found himself in exciting places during the first half including after linking well with Walker and Paulinho on the far side however his end product failed to find Soldado convincingly and ended up with the keeper.
Nacer Chadli frustrated fans at times with his first Premier League appearance. He found himself in brilliant positions however lacked the courage and panache to take on opposition and never once do I remember seeing him neither take on a man nor go past a player. This was to change in the second half as he was still learning the fundamentals of English football’s fast pace. Danny Rose impressed throughout the half after his awful game against Espanyol and got into good positions on the left. Mousa Dembele struck over and just nicked the bar on 35 minutes with a Gylfi Sigurdsson belter on the turn pushed aside by Speroni moments later.
The half began to teeter out until a last gasp header by Nacer Chadli fizzed over the bar and Spurs entered the break a little frustrated however still in the balance with Palace providing little goal threat.
The second half looked much brighter for the lads. Nacer came out a changed man with him and Rose breaking down the left side frequently. Spurs looked more focused despite spells of sheer panic when Lloris had to come to the rescue. The lucky break finally came on the 50th minute of time. An Aaron Lennon cross struck the hand of a Dean Moxey and Mark Clattenburg awarded Spurs their first penalty of the season (something they did not manage throughout the whole of last year’s campaign.) Roberto Soldado stepped up to the plate and curled the penalty into the net with the whole team celebrating emphatically after a dry spell.
Substitute Etienne Capoue impressed hugely when he came on to make his debut on the 57th minute. He managed 6 interceptions, more than West Brom, West Ham and Sunderland in all of their games yesterday and really caught my eye as a key player for this season. Younes Kaboul also came on to strengthen at the back as Palace looked to push.
Chances then came thick and fast for the North Londoners. Sigurdsson found himself in space after Soldado managed to pick him out in the area however the Icelander fired wide. Hugo Lloris kept Spurs in it from this point forward. Save after save he kept it up and with the clock ticking down he did not hesitate and kept the goal clear despite Kevin Phillip’s best intentions. Jermain Defoe had the chance of the match as on the 85th minute mark he found himself with the goal at his fingertips but could only manage a shot wide.
The game finished though (much to the delight of Spurs fans) and Tottenham secured a very rare opening day win – something our make-shift side last year at Newcastle couldn’t achieve. Nacer Chadli spoke after acknowledging the change of pace to Dutch football with AVB and Jan Vertonghen praising a well-deserved win.
Lloris – Perfect 10, couldn’t fault him today.
Walker – 7, got forward well but got caught out at times
Dawson – 7, endured shaky spells but still solid throughout
Vertonghen -8, skilful as always and keen to push forward
Rose – 7, got forward well and came back with pace (better than Espanyol)
Dembele – 8, sprayed the ball around well and pushed play on with ease
Paulinho – 8, a good Premier League debut as recognised by Sky Sports winning their MOTM
Chadli – 7, did have moments of frustration but improved throughout and showed good pace
Sigurdsson- 6, wasn’t my favourite performance from him and missed a good chance
Lennon – 6, at times his pace was phenomenal but his end product lets him down
Soldado – 9, a great debut performance with a top penalty also.
Kaboul played a few minutes but his first touch was a clearance. Jermain missed a sitter but did advance well at times holding the ball up in key moments.
Capoue – 7, only played 33 minutes but showed intelligence, tenacity and a keen defensive instinct.
Our MOTM: By a clear mile, Hugo Lloris. What a phenomenal performance. He performed some truly audacious tackles miles out from his goal and saved chance after chance towards the end. My little French friend, mon chapeau a vous.
We hope you enjoyed our Live match coverage as well as in depth statistical analysis on twitter and pictures on Tumblr and Instagram (same handle of talkignthfc.) The season is underway for sure! Our next involvement on here is our midweek article!!