Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace will both be looking to pick up their first victories of the new campaign when they do battle at White Hart Lane (3pm Saturday).
Spurs secured a 1-1 draw against Everton in the first game of the 2016/17 season last Saturday, with Erik Lamela’s second-half header cancelling out Ross Barkley’s free-kick in the fifth minute. Tottenham were outplayed in the first period and could have been more than just one goal behind at the break, but the visitors improved after the interval and had the chances to win the game late on. It was a reasonably positive start to the season – trips to Goodison Park are never easy – and Mauricio Pochettino will be heartened by the manner in which his side responded after an underwhelming showing in the opening 45 minutes.
Crystal Palace fell to defeat at home to West Bromwich Albion, meanwhile, making it just two wins from 20 Premier League outings in 2016. Alan Pardew’s (pictured) men were extremely disappointing as they struggled to create chances against a West Brom side who sat deep and made life difficult for the hosts at Selhurst Park, with Palace’s need for a new striker becoming even clearer over the course of the 90 minutes. A mid-table finish will be the aim for the Eagles this term, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that they could get dragged into the battle to avoid relegation to the Championship, particularly if their dismal run this calendar year continues for much longer.
Pochettino will again be unable to call upon the services of Mousa Dembele, who is still serving a six-match suspension after scratching Diego Costa in the face in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Chelsea in May. Son Heung-min is still unavailable despite South Korea exiting the men’s football tournament at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last weekend. Hugo Lloris could also miss out after being withdrawn with a hamstring injury in the draw with Everton, with Michel Vorm in line to start if the France international does indeed miss out. Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama should continue in the centre of midfield with Dele Alli pushed behind lone central striker Harry Kane, although Ryan Mason is another contender for the spot in the engine room that is usually Dembele’s.
Palace could include Yohan Cabaye and Joe Ledley in their starting line-up. The midfield duo reached the latter stages of Euro 2016 in France this summer and were given extra time. This clash will probably come too soon for James Tomkins, Frazier Campbell, Bakary Sako and James McArthur. The injury-prone Jonny Williams is out for up to 10 weeks after hurting his ankle in a recent friendly against non-league Farnborough. Jason Puncheon will probably be pushed forward into the No. 10 role after being employed in a deeper central midfield position last weekend. Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend are set to start on the flanks once more.
Taking everything into account, it is difficult for this preview to look past a Tottenham victory on Saturday afternoon as the betting tip. Pochettino’s charges will probably have too much quality for a Palace outfit that is low on confidence as a result of poor Premier League form throughout 2016. The absence of Everton new boy Yannick Bolasie, who was essential to the Eagles’ counter-attacking game over the last four years, is likely to be keenly felt in this particular encounter. A 2-0 Spurs triumph could therefore be the best betting option, with Alli a potentially good value choice for first goalscorer.