Patrick Vieira warned it would be a “massive mistake” for his Crystal Palace players to solely focus on shutting down Harry Kane when they host Tottenham on Wednesday.
Kane’s 13 goals so far this season are good enough for second-most in the Premier League, still eight shy of Erling Haaland’s astonishing 21 for Manchester City.
Vieira, who picked up his first win as the Eagles’ boss against Spurs last season, appreciated the threat posed by the England captain but cautioned against becoming myopic in the midweek match-up.
“You’re not going to stop him,” said Vieira. “And I think if we only put our concentration and focus on him it will be a massive mistake, because there are so many good players around him who can provide the quality ball for him to finish it.
“So the team performance will be the main focus for us.”
Haaland has scored more goals this season than nine Premier League sides, while Kane’s total matches those of Everton and West Ham and is better than Nottingham Forest and Wolves’ team efforts.
Palace have netted 17 so far this season, two of them coming in the first half of their 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, a relief after a worrying 3-0 defeat to Fulham on Boxing Day in which they failed to register a single shot on target.
Wednesday’s contest will be the second of three games across one week for the 11th-placed Eagles, a stark contrast to the sporadic first half of their campaign.
Palace did not play for nearly a month after train strikes and the Queen’s death resulted in back-to-back September postponements, then Premier League action paused again for the World Cup.
They will wrap up the week by hosting Southampton in their third-round FA Cup clash, hoping to do as well or better than their semi-final run last season when they lost to eventual runners-up Chelsea at Wembley.
Vieira, whose side face a difficult run against top-10 teams to start the New Year, also reiterated his ambition to bring in more support during January’s transfer window to give him greater options in the second half of the season.
He would especially benefit from help in midfield, with the injury-plagued James McArthur not set for an imminent return and his contract expiring next summer, though Vieira said the 35-year-old could participate in some team training this week.
Asked about the busy fixture list, Vieira added: “We prepare ourselves for that. We had two weeks’ break and then we came back and we physically tried to get where we left it, and of course it is a challenge because you’re going six weeks without proper competition.
“Then you get inside and then it’s one game after the other one, but hopefully we will be competitive game after game. That’s why I strongly believe as well we need to reinforce the squad to allow ourselves to compete a little bit more.”