How Mauricio Pochettino's tinkering saw Spurs keep title dream alive with Crystal Palace win

Matt Law
How Mauricio Pochettino's tinkering saw Spurs get their title race back on course with victory over Crystal Palace

Pochettino turns Tinkerman to keep title race alive

Mauricio Pochettino has preached the importance of versatility over recent weeks and he has certainly tested the depth of his Tottenham squad over the past five days. The Argentine brought full-backs Kyle Walker and Ben Davies back into his team after dropping the pair for the FA Cup semi-final. Eric Dier was shifted from the right side of the back three to the middle, presumably to deal with the aerial threat of Christian Benteke.

Mauricio Pochettino's changes to the line-up of his Tottenham side paid dividends Credit: REUTERS

With the game goalless at half-time, Pochettino made another bold change by sending on Moussa Sissoko and Heung-Min Son, and switching to a back four. Whether or not it was a tactical masterclass, Spurs certainly improved and eventually secured the victory they so badly needed.

Tottenham show their mettle

For so long derided for being ‘Spursy’, Tottenham underlined the fact they are made of sterner stuff these days to remain in the Premier League title hunt. Losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup-final and then watching their rivals beat Southampton piled the pressure on Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

Spurs players celebrate with their fans after Christian Eriksen's second-half winner Credit: Getty Images

They were flat in the first half against a resurgent Crystal Palace, but Spurs managed to find another gear after the break to make it eight successive Premier League victories. The odds remain against them, but Tottenham are determined not to repeat last season’s collapse and they are certainly shaking off the ‘Spursy’ tag after watching so many of the other supposed title rivals wave the white flag months ago.

Sakho already a Selhurst hero

‘Sign him up’ was the chant from the Selhurst Park stands as Crystal Palace welcomed on-loan Mamadou Sakho back into the team after he was ineligible to play against parent club Liverpool. While the defender may have upset Liverpool fans by celebrating Christian Benteke’s opening goal at Anfield on Sunday, he is very much loved at his temporary home.

Mamadou Sakho (left) keeps a close eye on Harry Kane at Selhurst Park Credit: AP

Sakho has been credited for Palace’s incredible turnaround in form and the Frenchman has joined Wilfried Zaha as being a firm favourite with the crowd. Manager Sam Allardyce shook his head, chairman Steve Parish looked like a worried man and there was a palpable sense of dismay around Selhurst Park, as Sakho was carried off on a stretcher following a challenge with Harry Kane in the second half.

Man of the match: Christian Eriksen

The Dane actually performed far better in the semi-final defeat to Chelsea, but his superb 30-yard strike at Selhurst Park has kept Tottenham’s season and the Premier League title race alive.

Christian Eriksen was once again superb for Tottenham Hotspur Credit:  Rex Features

Eriksen has been brilliant for Spurs over the second half of the season and he may be required to produce more magic yet.

What Crystal Palace must do next

They are probably already safe from the drop, but a victory against Burnley on Saturday will extinguish any lingering fears for Sam Allardyce and his team. Palace will be sweating over the fitness of Sakho, but, in truth, they should get over the line with or without him.

Crystal Palace appear safe following a string of decent results Credit: REUTERS

What Tottenham must do next

Two more London derbies, against Arsenal and West Ham United, followed by a visit from Manchester United mean Spurs certainly haven’t got it easy. They might need to win every game to stand a chance of catching Chelsea, but don’t rule Pochettino’s men out just yet.

RegisterLog incommenting policy

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes