Five Things We Learned: Tottenham (23/01/2016)

Written by Robert Sutherland

Delaney miss1. Important not to feel disheartened

Four league defeats in a row. It's easy to feel disappointment about our dip in form. There were however positives to take from the performance against Spurs, where despite Tottenham's dominance, Palace came close to scoring goals which might well have won us all three points. Instead, we were defeated by two wondrous strikes.

The context to this run of defeats is that Palace have lost three of the four matches against top sides - Including Chelsea - with an  international class of talent capable of beating most teams they face. If we are to take one performance to heart, it would be the Aston Villa defeat - a calamitous, listless performance that was worthy of a loss.

There is plenty for Palace to build on. The next few games are crucial in terms of shaping how the rest of our season will go. 

2. Quality attacker needed, but at what price?

The transfer window has been a point of irritation for Palace fans, myself included, and the club are seemingly facing myriad difficulties when it comes to finding a striker.

What kind of player do Palace need? A foreign star? A young talent capable of being built around? Does he need to be a competitor for Wickham or the kind of player that is selected alongside him? What constitutes value? Where can Steve Parish find that kind of value?

Palace have spent money. Wickham and Gayle were not cheap options. Is signing someone like Islam Slimani, who has been excellent for Sporting Clube, a guaranteed goalscorer for a side like Palace? Wasn't Ricky van Wolfswinkel that when Norwich signed him from the same club, only for him to score zero goals in the season they were relegated?

Much transfer activity is essentially gambling, especially when signing players who haven't played in the Premier League. If Palace do sign a striker, it has to be with a consideration of the facts - and that takes time. It's an approach that has worked since CPFC2010 took over.

3.  Are we expecting too much from our squad?

Palace have a strong 11. Take two or three players away from that, and it begs the question - is the rest of the squad that strong?

With the loss of Bolasie, Palace's lack of depth on the wing has been highlighted. It's destabilised the squad to the point that we've had to play Puncheon, a player who looks best in a central role, on the wing, which in turn meant that James McArthur has had to take Puncheon's place, and for Joe Ledley to fill in alongside Yohan Cabaye in defensive midfield.

Our lack of genuine attacking depth has been highlighted by the inability of Fraizer Campbell to make an impact when he has played, and Marouane Chamakh to challenge for a starting place.

The progress Palace have made in the last two seasons has been significant. The squad will need to catch up.

4. Let's see the Wickham elbow for what it was...

A violent moment of stupidity. Whether it was in reaction to having his shirt pulled or not, Connor Wickham's elbow on Jan Vertonghen was incredibly foolish and dangerous - at a time when the squad needs the player the most.

There is no excuse. I've seen a few suggest he was just trying to shrug the player off - a laughable response to the incident. Wickham's intention was to elbow his marker, so much so that he swung twice for him. It was unacceptable, and a three match ban is the least he deserves.

The most disappointing aspect to that incident was that Wickham had had a decent game for Palace. Committing such a stupid foul makes the rest of his performance insignificant. 

5. Is it time for a goalkeeper change?

I have a tendency to see the good in most situations, much to my detriment, and that tendency makes this question a very difficult one. Should Wayne Hennessey be dropped?

If we were to take the goals conceded against Manchester City and Aston Villa, I would have said no. I think a player deserves the benefit of the doubt initially, and Hennessey deserved it after a series of winning performances. But there's something to be said about the nature of the goals we have conceded recently.

The majority have been long-range efforts. Two of the three that Tottenham scored yesterday were just that - low and from distance. With an ultra-critical look at both, it could be argued that for the second, in the build-up to Dele Alli's goal, he wasn't as prepared as he should have been. Instead, we saw him adjusting his gloves just before the strike came in. The third goal seemed to indicate that he was slow to react. Hennessey's footwork has been a point of concern before, too.

That said, Hennessey has shown he's capable. You don't suddenly become a bad goalkeeper, and Palace as a defensive unit have become a bit too porous, too.

Should Pardew try and see out Wayne's dip or should he swing the axe and bring in Alex McCarthy or Julian Speroni? I don't envy his position, but I'd argue that a change might need to come sooner rather than later.

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