In a game where the result looked certain to be a draw, Tottenham found a way to emerge from Selhurst Park with a hard fought victory.
For much of Saturday’s game between Tottenham and Crystal Palace, it appeared the two sides were destined to finish the game in a scoreless draw. Neither side was able to create meaningful chances in a game played during a downpour.
In the 66th minute, Spurs changed their fate with a goal from an unlikely source. Argentine youngster Juan Foyth scored his first Premier League goal to give Tottenham a 1-0 advantage, a lead that would prove to be the difference in the game. The loss will be a frustrating one for Palace, especially as they continue to fall further down the table. For Spurs, the win marks their sixth in seven games and their fourth straight.
Spurs will need to maintain their current form, as the race for places in the Champions League heats up. Arsenal have emerged as surprise contenders for the top four, a revitalized squad under first year manager Unai Emery. The perennial powerhouse of the Premier League, Manchester United, have also been in good form recently as they emerge from an early season slump.
Points are extremely important for Spurs, as a place in Europe’s biggest club competition is at stake. They can ill-afford to drop any against lesser opponents, and finding a way to win in games like Saturday’s is an important piece to that puzzle.
A large part of obtaining those points and those victories is keeping opponents off the score sheet, a task Tottenham have struggled with so far this season. They haven’t been at their best in attack, but have scored only one fewer goal than Liverpool so far this season. When it comes to defending, Spurs haven’t fared so well, conceding 10 goals to Liverpool’s five. They were able to keep a clean sheet today, a performance that should inspire confidence in their defense.
When one considers the makeup of a team that is thought to be a defensive juggernaut, Spurs may not come to mind. Attacking, goal-minded midfield players like Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son and attacking full-backs like Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier would lead one to believe that a defense-first approach may not be in the cards. On the other hand, if Tottenham can keep teams from scoring like they did on Saturday with Palace, defense may be the difference for Spurs in the end.
Spurs’ win on Saturday keeps them in fourth place, with some particularly important upcoming games. After next week’s international break, Tottenham will welcome an unbeaten Chelsea to Wembley, then visit Arsenal at the Emirates the following week. If they can win both of those games, their path back to the Champions League will become much clearer with a third of the season over with.