COMMENTARY | It very easily could have gone horribly wrong for Tottenham Hotspur at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
In front of arguably the best crowd of the opening weekend of the Premier League season and with the Gareth Bale transfer saga swirling over their heads, Spurs escaped a gritty Crystal Palace with a deserved 1-0 victory. The hosts, realistically beginning their relegation battle on day one of the campaign, were up for it from the opening kickoff, but the better side found the solo tally they needed and then held on for what was a nervy win. It's a rare occurrence for Spurs, who normally stumble out of the gate.
Perhaps we really are at the beginning of a new era for the club.
Tottenham defeat Crystal Palace 1-0: New boys
Outside of Paulinho, who was largely quiet, each of the big Tottenham summer signings shined on Sunday. Roberto Soldado will grab the headlines due to his burying the match winner from the spot five minutes into the second half, but it was the way he set up teammates such as Gylfi Sigurdsson that left me impressed. Nacer Chadli was an as-advertised presence on the wing who nearly found the back of the net on two occasions, and Etienne Capoue had six interceptions in his 36-minute shift, during which he covered for the slowed Jan Vertonghen (ankle).
Tottenham's main objective of the summer was very clear: Build a Champions League squad that doesn't need Bale to finish in the top four. We are, of course, still in the season's infancy, but Spurs fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the players brought in over the past couple of months. Now, just imagine how well they'd click if you inserted a fully-motivated Bale into the starting lineup.
Tottenham defeat Crystal Palace 1-0: World class
And some were actually worried about Hugo Lloris because he was somewhat shaky in the preseason. While not overly busy, Lloris made every stop he had to, including a duo of saves at the death. He was absolutely brilliant in coming off of his line multiple times to halt Palace attacks, most notably when he left the penalty area to tackle the ball away from veteran striker Kevin Phillips.
More brave than he is big, Lloris' athleticism and instincts make him, for my money, the best overall goalkeeper in the league. His ability to disrupt set pieces and kill would-be breakaways cannot be overstated. NBC Sports gave the shout to Soldado immediately after the game, by Lloris was by far my man of the match.
Tottenham defeat Crystal Palace 1-0: Looking forward
A lack of quality and depth is a real concern, and I still see Palace going right back down at the end of the season. With that said, they're going to be very difficult to beat at home. Manager Ian Holloway made it clear from the very beginning that he has no intention of playing it safe against any opponent, and his triple swap in the 66th minute provided evidence of that fact.
Holloway's "nothing to lose" mentality is one that keeps crowds coming to games regardless of results. The type of atmosphere at Selhurst Park on Sunday provides a boost to players who then want to return the favor, and Palace are going to be on the positive end of a scoreline sooner than later. Their next chance to win at home comes on August 31 against Sunderland. That's a very winnable game for Palace.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Gareth Bale
- Selhurst Park
- Hugo Lloris