Well that’s one way to ease the fixture congestion. Ah well.
Overall a patchy display in a game that could’ve gone either way. In the first half we had plenty of opportunities to score with Son, Alli and Onomah creating pretty patterns in front of a bewildered Palace back four but the away side also had their moments, mostly via balls hoofed over the top and into the high swirling wind.
They scored a soft goal in injury time that, having only seen it ‘live’, looked like Vorm might’ve done better with. We had ample chances to clear in what passed for the build up to what proved to be the eventual winner but declined and instead let Zaha pass to a totally free overlapping Kelly to smash in at the near post.
The away fans had been intermittently noisly but this unexpected turn of events allowed them to crank up the volume which was a tad tiresome.
We started well post half time and initially looked like we’d grab an equaliser at least but as time ticked on and Pochettino weakened the side with his subs, like a balloon with holes where Lloris, Toby, Jan, Dier, Dembélé and Alli should collectively be, we gently deflated and that was that.
You play a below strength team, you get a below strength performance. With a bit more luck – particularly when Alli’s shot hit both posts without going in – and some sharper shooting from Son, Kane and Onomah it’s true that things could’ve been different but we took a chance, and it didn’t come off.
Disappointing as this result is, there’s no doubt that the outcome improves our chances in the remaining competitions we’re fighting in. Taking off Son and particularly Alli whilst leaving Onomah on indicates that Pochettino was ulimately happy to sacrifice this game. You can imagine him kicking back after after updating his fixture spreadsheet thinking that things in March and April look a tad healthier.
Injuries to Vertonghen, Lloris, Carroll and Lamela are a reminder of how easy it is to lose players suddenly which would also explain the protection of some of the most important ingredients in our particular recipe. The fact remains though that most games you don’t try and win, you won’t.
Fiorentina next up and off we go again.
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