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Winners & Losers

Kane revitalises turgid Tottenham! Winners, losers & ratings as Spurs eventually blow Crystal Palace away

01:51 EAT 05/01/2023
Tottenham-Palace winners and losers split
Tottenham bounced back from a shaky start to earn a much-needed 4-0 away win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.

As Tottenham trudged down the tunnel at half-time it felt like they were sleepwalking into another poor result. Then, Harry Kane happened.

Spurs were fortunate to not be losing at the break, but against recent convention and despite being second best for long spells, they completed the first 45 minutes unscathed and were rewarded early in the second period - snapping an embarrassing 10-match streak of conceding the first goal in the process.

Kane majestically climbed above the Palace defence to nod home the opener and he produced a textbook driven finish to double his side's lead soon after. Matt Doherty and Son Heung-min - who looked unable to hit a cow's behind with a banjo beforehand - added some gloss to the scoreline as Spurs secured a much-needed victory.

Tottenham have been playing poorly for a long time now, yet they are still remarkably well-placed in the Premier League table. And if they can keep up the level of attacking efficiency they showed in the second half in south-east London, who knows how high they can climb?

  • Kane Gil Tottenham 2022-23

    The Winners

    Harry Kane:

    It is hard to overemphasise just how badly Tottenham needed a goal after limping to half-time against the Eagles. And, like he has done so many times before, Kane obliged - twice. It is challenging to find a new angle on the England captain, such has been his effortless brilliance for so long.

    However, with so many of their Premier League rivals lacking a free-scoring number nine, this could be the season that the 'Kane factor' plays its most significant role in deciding where Spurs finish in the table.

    Bryan Gil:

    The mop-topped Spaniard's start to life in north London has been rather underwhelming. Questions have been asked about his lack of physicality and his contribution to the Spurs' cause has been negligible in nearly 30 appearances prior to the Palace match.

    Could this be the moment when the narrative shifts? Gil was better tonight. Much better in fact. He wriggled free of his marker several times early on and kept his mettle in the wake of a string of crunching challenges to play a decisive role after the interval. After being involved in Kane's first goal, he then provided the assist - his first in the Premier League -for the No.10's second. It was a beautiful, firmly hit pass into Kane's feet and a reminder of what Gil can bring to the table in the absence of Dejan Kulusevski.

    Son Heung-min:

    Let's not beat about the bush. Son did not play well here. His first half consisted of sloppy passes and a bizarre sequence following a Spurs corner routine, which culminated in him dribbling the ball out of play. After this he missed an absolute sitter, firing a one-on-one straight at Vicente Guaita. Even his 'assist' did not paint him in the best light, as his blocked pass fortuitously fell into Matt Doherty's path.

    But then, it came. The goal that seemed about as likely as pigs flying for the previous 71 minutes. As soon as the ball struck the back of the net Son exploded, in similar fashion to when he broke his previous seasonal goal drought against Leicester back in September, ripping off his protective mask and sprinting towards the travelling fans.

    After the rest of his teammates returned to his half, Son lingered with the Spurs faithful a few moments longer, kissing the badge and showing his appreciation. It was the look of a man who had just had the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders and Tottenham will be hoping it signals the beginning of his 2022-23 renaissance.

  • Conte Tottenham 2022-23

    The Losers

    Djed Spence:

    Spence must be the worst trainer in the world. There is no other excuse for him to be so consistently ignored by his manager. Spurs pulled out all the stops to sign the flying wing-back in the summer amid some stiff competition. And yet, you can count his Premier League minutes this season on one hand.

    Even as Tottenham streaked ahead, Spence's number remained absent from the fourth official's electronic board as other fringe players were given their chance.

    Spurs' European qualification rivals:

    Manchester United, Newcastle, Liverpool and Co. would've been licking their lips after Spurs' first-half display as it seemed to suggest that Conte's side were en route to dropping yet more points in the race for European qualification.

    However, in the end, Kane dragged his side to a victory that leaves fifth-placed Spurs five points ahead of Liverpool and a mammoth eight above Chelsea down in 10th. There will be countless twists and turns before the season is out, but Tottenham will be mightily relieved to keep pace with those above them.

    Antonio Conte's transfer budget:

    In case you hadn't noticed, Conte is pretty keen for Spurs to strengthen in January. After their New Year's Day defeat to Aston Villa he bemoaned his lack of "creative players" - the latest in a long line of not-so-subtle jabs at Daniel Levy.

    Unfortunately for the Italian, winning 4-0 against a team as good as Crystal Palace is not the best way to hammer home that your squad isn't fit for purpose. Keep arresting the slide and Levy has the perfect excuse to keep the chequebook firmly in his inside pocket. Not that Spurs fans are likely to give their chairman an easy ride this month. Chants of 'We want Levy out' echoed around the capital even after the fourth goal went in...

  • Lloris Tottenham 2022-23

    Tottenham Ratings: Defence

    Hugo Lloris (8/10):

    Showed great reflexes to keep Ayew out in the first half. Went on to make several other fine stops in a real return to form.

    Cristian Romero (6/10):

    A bit rash to start with. He settled nicely though, and flew into some typically forceful challenges.

    Eric Dier (6/10):

    Excellent in the air, even when target man Jean-Philippe Mateta entered the fray. Recovered from a shy start to enjoy a comfortable second half.

    Clement Lenglet (6/10):

    Lost Ayew in the box on the half-hour mark, which could have proved fatal.

  • Doherty Tottenham 2022-23

    Midfield

    Matt Doherty (7/10):

    Nothing went right for him in the first half. Like his team, his performance after the break was unrecognisable. Finished well for his goal after blazing one over previously.

    Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (7/10):

    Got in the way of Kane's long ball - which summed up his first-half display. Much improved after half-time.

    Oliver Skipp (7/10):

    A big night for him after not playing for so long. He rose to the occasion pretty well, protecting the back four and remaining tidy in possession.
    Ivan Perisic (6/10):

    Nowhere near his best early on as he barely ventured into Palace territory, but picked up his customary assist for the opener.

  • Son Heung-min Spurs 2022-23

    Attack

    Bryan Gil (8/10):

    Showed some quick feet in the early exchanges. Faded as Palace got more physical with him. Then improved and laid on Kane's second with a punched-in pass.

    Son Heung-min (7/10):

    Looked set to be another rotten night. However, he turned it around by setting up the third goal - sort of - and then scoring himself.

    Harry Kane (8/10):

    Typical Kane performance. Tried to link things in the first half to okay effect, before producing two excellent finishes to swing the game in his team's favour. So important to Spurs - obviously.

  • Subs & Manager

    Ryan Sessegnon (6/10):

    Helped his side see out the game by challenging his opposite number.

    Emerson Royal (6/10):

    Physical cameo. We're excited for the highlight reel.

    Harvey White (6/10):

    Good to see the youngster get some minutes towards the end.
    Ben Davies (N/A):

    Little to report from his very brief performance.

    Antonio Conte (7/10):

    Clearly told his side to keep it tight early on, and for once, they actually did. This set them up to win in the second half. Subs were made too late to cause any impact.