Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said his side’s “amazing” performance in Saturday’s victory over Crystal Palace is the “first step” towards rediscovering the consistency of last season.
All four Spurs goals came before the interval, with Son Heung-min the shining light in a scintillating attacking display.
The victory – Tottenham’s first since the opening weekend of the season – lifts them back into the top four of the Premier League.
Pochettino said last month that this was the most unsettled squad he has had at the club, following a summer in which the likes of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld were all heavily linked with moves abroad.
The 4-0 win was Spurs’ first game since the European transfer window closed on 2 September.
“[Today’s performance] showed when you focus and concentrate and you are on the same page, working to the same objective, the quality is there,” said Pochettino.
“This is the first step. We need to improve a lot, we need to be consistent.
“The first half was like a recovery to make our fans feel proud of us.”
South Korea forward Son capitalised on a defensive lapse from returning Palace defender Mamadou Sakho to fire the hosts into an early lead, before visiting left-back Patrick van Aanholt inadvertently directed a cross from right-back Serge Aurier into his own net.
Son connected beautifully with another Aurier cross to make it 3-0, and Erik Lamela finished off another flowing move involving Son and Harry Kane to complete the scoring.
“The attitude was amazing, and the performance,” said Pochettino. “We were very concentrated and had tremendous quality.
“I’m so happy for the team. I think it’s important for their confidence.”
Spurs hit their stride
Pochettino revealed he held an hour-long meeting with his squad this week in order to “refocus” his players’ minds following an indifferent start to the campaign.
Spurs had won only once in the league this season before today – at home to Aston Villa in their opening game of the campaign.
Whatever Pochettino told his players in the meeting, it worked.
The hosts roared out of the traps at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, overwhelming a Palace side who had conceded only two league goals before the game.
Son, who scored Spurs’ first goal at their new stadium against Palace in April, opened the scoring with a crisp finish after Sakho misjudged Toby Alderweireld’s raking cross-field pass.
Spurs, who had fallen behind in both their home games so far this season, continued to apply pressure on the Palace rearguard and doubled their lead when Aurier’s cross from the right was directed past Guaita by the unfortunate Van Aanholt.
Aurier, making his first start since February, was left in far too much space as he set up the hosts’ second goal, and Palace failed to learn their lesson as the Ivory Coast defender produced another teasing ball which Son volleyed brilliantly past Guaita at the far post.
Son was at the forefront of all that was good about Spurs’ performance, starting the move that led to Lamela prodding Kane’s low cross beyond the Palace goalkeeper three minutes before the interval.
A day to forget for Palace
Prior to the game, only Manchester City (52) and Liverpool (51) had collected more Premier League points than Roy Hodgson’s side since 2 February, when the Eagles started a good run of form with a 2-0 win at home to Fulham.
They have taken significant scalps away from Selhurst Park in that period, including a backs-to-the-wall 2-1 victory at Manchester United last month – their eighth win in 12 Premier League away matches.
However, Saturday’s defeat extends their winless league run against Spurs to nine games.
Hodgson’s side were second best from start to finish as the defensive organisation that earned them that impressive victory at Old Trafford appeared to desert them.
France defender Sakho – making his first appearance since having knee surgery – had a poor game and was at fault for Spurs’ opening goal.
There may have been an element of fortune about the hosts’ second, but Spurs cut through their opponents with embarrassing ease in the build-up to their third and fourth goals, with Son and Lamela both left unmarked at the far post.
Palace rarely threatened at the other end as Lloris made routine saves from Cahill and Kouyate in the first half, before thwarting Wilfried Zaha in the second.
Man of the match – Son Heung-min (Tottenham)
Joint-biggest victory in a London derby – the stats
- Spurs recorded their biggest league victory over Palace, as well as their joint-biggest against the Eagles across all competitions (also 4-0 in January 1987 in the FA Cup fourth round).
- This was Spurs’ joint-biggest victory in a London derby in the Premier League (seventh win by four goals), having last won one by four goals in what was Pochettino’s first home game in charge of Spurs (4-0 v QPR in August 2014).
- Palace’s defeat was their heaviest in the Premier League since September 2017 (0-4 v Manchester United), while only once previously has Hodgson lost by a bigger margin in the competition (Crystal Palace 0-5 Manchester City in September 2017).
- Spurs have won each of their last nine Premier League games against Palace – only against Birmingham (10 in September 1964) have they had a longer winning run in top-flight history.
- Spurs scored three goals in the opening half hour of a Premier League home game for the first time since February 2012, when they beat Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane.
- Son has scored in all four of his Premier League home games against Crystal Palace (five goals), with Spurs going on to win on all four occasions.
- Son is Spurs’ top scorer across all competitions at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, netting four goals in seven home appearances there.
- Palace winger Zaha won eight fouls against Spurs; the most by a player in a Premier League game since November 2018 (eight for Harry Kane v Chelsea).
‘There’s a lot of work to do’ – what the managers said
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, speaking to BBC Sport: “”The performance showed we are a good team.”
“I’m so happy for the team and happy to build for a really good 21 days, with six games ahead.
“We need to improve a lot and be consistent. There’s a lot of work to do.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, speaking to BBC Sport: “It’s one of those games that we will just have to write off and learn from and hold our hands up and admit we were beaten by a better team.
“We came here hoping to play as well as they played and we weren’t capable of that. We found ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun at half-time but fortunately the scoreline wasn’t aggravated in the second half and we have been beaten 4-0.
“The fact is we mustn’t get carried away with results. For us, it’s going to be a very long, hard fight to stay in this league and there will be plenty of games like this where we play teams with power and intensity.”
Spurs travel to Olympiakos in their Champions League Group B opener on Wednesday 18 September (kick-off 17:55 BST) before visiting Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday, 21 September (12:30 BST).
Crystal Palace return to action at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, 22 September (14:00 BST).
Jordan Ayew’s instinctive finish helped Crystal Palace secure back-to-back Premier League wins with victory over 10-man Aston Villa.
The hosts looked to be heading for another Selhurst Park blank despite Villa’s Trezeguet seeing red for a second bookable offence, before Ghanaian Ayew fired beyond Tom Heaton with time running out.
It meant Ayew, who was part of the Villa side relegated from the top flight in 2016, scored for the second Premier League weekend in a row, having also struck in the win at Manchester United.
Trezeguet’s dismissal, for a late challenge on Wilfried Zaha, was among seven bookings dished out by referee Kevin Friend.
The visitors were incensed by a late disallowed goal for Henri Lansbury in six added minutes, Friend having already blown to book Jack Grealish for simulation in the build-up.
Match of the Day host Gary Lineker tweeted: “The disallowed goal for @AVFCOfficial in the last minute has to be seen to be believed. Why VAR didn’t correct what appeared to be an awful refereeing error is beyond me.”
In truth, it saved Roy Hodgson’s side from ending a match which they had dominated in embarrassment, with the hosts having had 22 shots on Heaton’s goal.
Cheikhou Kouyate was among the most wasteful, with just one of his six shots being on target. Captain Luka Milivojevic also went close, seeing an effort from distance pushed away from the top left hand corner of Heaton’s goal straight after Trezeguet was dismissed.
Meanwhile, it was another frustrating day for Zaha, who has now scored just once in his last 17 home league appearances.
Villa feel ‘robbed’ of away point
Aston Villa beat Everton at home last time out, but are now winless in 20 Premier League away games, losing their last nine in a row.
And after a late collapse at Tottenham denied them any points in their only other away league game this season, Lansbury’s disallowed goal was a bitter pill to swallow for Dean Smith’s side.
Deep into added time, a hand from Zaha appeared to set Grealish off balance as he bore down on the Palace 18-yard box.
But the Villa captain succeeded in completing his pass to Lansbury before running into first Gary Cahill and then the turf.
The decision of referee Friend prompted desperate protests from the visitors and their supporters, with Cahill holding Grealish back from the official as he was booked.
Speaking afterwards, Villa midfielder John McGinn said replays of the incident “speaks for itself” and claimed his side had been “robbed of a point”.
‘We don’t need to apologise for our win’ – what they said
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson:
“It’s unfortunate in some ways for us that it’s all going to centre around the controversy at the end. I think it was a very good performance from our side, we could have been way out of sight before that controversial situation.
“We think we’ve thrown this away in the last minute and are going to lose two points. Lucky for us the referee had made his decision before the ball had gone in the net and that was to give the free-kick. I don’t think we need to apologise at all for the fact that we won the game.”
Aston Villa manager Dean Smith:
“Palace have got good players and playing against them when they have a numerical advantage is a challenge. We kept going until the end and in my opinion got a good goal. I’m not sure any of us know why the referee has given the decision.
“We’ve all looked at it back and nobody can see why he hasn’t given the goal and given the free-kick but we have to take it on the chin.”
Man of the match – Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace)
Hodgson keeps spell over Villa – the stats
- Crystal Palace have kept a clean sheet in both of their opening two home games in a league season for the first time since 2008-09, while it’s the first time they’ve ever done so in a Premier League campaign.
- Palace have also now won two of their last three Premier League home games, drawing the other. It is as many wins as they had in their previous 10 at Selhurst Park.
- Trezeguet became the first Aston Villa player to be sent off in a Premier League match since Aly Cissokho against Watford in April 2016.
- Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew has scored in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since December 2015, when he was an Aston Villa player.
- Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson has won his first Premier League meeting against Aston Villa with all five of his clubs in the competition (Blackburn, Fulham, Liverpool, West Brom and Crystal Palace).
After September’s international break, Palace resume their Premier League season with a trip to Tottenham on Saturday, 14 September (15:00 BST).
Villa’s next fixture sees them host West Ham on Monday, 16 September (20:00 BST).
More to follow.