Crystal Palace-Tottenham Hotspur Preview
One month into the season, and it's Crystal Palace - not Tottenham Hotspur - that's sitting among the top-four teams in the Premier League.
Palace can take a big step in solidifying their early status as a top-four contender by ending an eight-game league losing streak to Spurs when the sides meet at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
One of the biggest disappointments on the young season is Spurs (1-2-1), who are plenty busy whilst again juggling the Champions League with their other English commitments. Still, their slow start has supporters concerned and pundits wondering if manager Mauricio Pochettino is still the right person to make them a serious contender within the Premier League.
Tottenham opened with a 3-1 home win over promoted-side Aston Villa, but are still searching for that next top-flight victory. VAR had a hand in Spurs' salvaging draws at Manchester City and rival Arsenal - sandwiched between was a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle United.
All that leaves Spurs, a perennial contender for a top-four spot, ninth in the table entering this matchday. However, the collective mindset of the squad is not near downtrodden as they return from the international break.
"If we win the first few games after the international break, we can really go forward," veteran midfielder Erik Lamela told Tottenham's official website. "It's time to start again after the international break against Palace. That's another tough game, but we all want is to get more points to push up the table."
Spurs could have some help in their attempt to do so with defenders Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring) and Eric Dier (hip) back training and possibly available to feature this weekend. Tanguy Ndombele (thigh) is also fit, whilst Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) could be ready to finally make his Spurs debut.
Regardless who is on the pitch, Palace (2-1-1) will be aiming for a third straight league victory - something they last did to conclude the 2017-18 season. The Eagles, fourth in the table whilst tied on points with three other teams, hope this will be the season they finally end their recent misery against Spurs.
Crystal Palace have been outscored 11-1 whilst losing eight consecutive matches to Tottenham since winning 2-1 at home in January 2015. Their only score during the skid came on Jan. 23, 2016, courtesy of Jan Vertonghen's own goal. The Eagles' lone victory at Tottenham during the Premier League era came on Nov. 24, 1997, and their last goal there was in December 2004.
Perhaps this a different Palace side that's capable of shunning the past and showing that their early success on this campaign is not a fluke. History, though, doesn't seem to be on the mind of the Eagles.
"It's one step at a time, and we'll just continue," forward Jordan Ayew, who has scored two of Palace's three goals on the season, told the club's official website. "It's the beginning of the season, and we just keep on doing the basics right and get rewarded."
Ayew has one goal in six Premier League matches against Spurs. However, that came in November 2015, when he was playing for Aston Villa.
Updated September 12, 2019