Crystal Palace v Tottenham
Live on Sky Sports 1
This is the first Premier League game in charge for Alan Pardew, who started his reign last weekend with a comfortable 4-0 win against non-league Dover in the FA Cup. The former Newcastle boss takes over with Palace in 18th place.
Another new factor in this match is the Selhurst Park pitch, which had become badly cut up and has been relaid. This will be the first time the new surface has been played on and Pardew has raised the possibility that the pitch will have "vital effects" on the game.
One change is enforced from Palace's last league game (0-0 at Aston Villa on New Year's Day) with Yannick Bolasie on duty for DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations. Dwight Gayle, who played up front for most of the Dover game, could come into the side.
Palace are also without Mile Jedinak, top scorer this season with five goals, as he is away with Australia for the Asian Cup.
Having produced the most stunning result of the season so far with their 5-3 home win over Chelsea on New Year's Day, Tottenham will be keenly aware of the importance of backing up that victory with another three points.
Any complacency should be erased by the memory of their goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace only a month ago. After that match, Tottenham were only 10th in the table but now they are up to fifth after taking 13 points out of 15 since then.
Spurs are without the impressive Nabil Bentaleb, who is at the Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria. Mauricio Pochettino's midfield options could be limited further by injury concerns for Erik Lamela and Ryan Mason, who are both rated 75% to be in contention for a starting place.
Tottenham have been on the drift this week but it is hard to argue with their recent form and for several reasons they look a reasonable bet at 2.226/5.
A key factor in Tottenham's improvement over the past month is that they are on a break from the Europa League, which has had an effect on results this season. When they have had to play three days after a Thursday-night Europa League match, their record is W4 D0 L4 (1.5 points per game) whereas otherwise it is W6 D4 L2 (1.83ppg) - the two defeats in the second form line were away to Chelsea and Manchester City, which indicates Tottenham will be hard to beat here.
Tottenham have good figures against bottom-half teams like Palace (W6 D2 L2 overall) and are particularly effective on the counter-attack in away games (W3 D1 L0 against bottom-half teams). In that respect, they have not changed much under Pochettino as they won six out of 10 away to bottom-half teams in each of the past two seasons, which is one indicator that the win odds are generous.
Palace, meanwhile, have beaten only one team from the top half of the table in 10 attempts this season (W1 D3 L6) - that was the 3-1 home victory over Liverpool on November 23, since when they have had a winless run of eight in the Premier League. Apart from the Liverpool win, Palace have lost their other three home games against top-half opponents, although on the plus side they have scored every time they have hosted a top-half team.
So what might stop Tottenham winning? One factor, although hard to quantify, is the possible effect Pardew might have in energising the Crystal Palace squad and reshaping the team into a more effective unit. It is fair to say, however, that he does not have the same quality of players at his disposal that he left behind at Newcastle.
Another issue for Tottenham is that they rarely keep a clean sheet on the road (one in nine games so far) and that puts more pressure on them to outscore the opposition. With Palace's good scoring record at home even in the toughest matches, Tottenham may well have to score two or more goals to win here.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Putting together Palace's good home scoring record and Tottenham's tendency to concede on the road leads to the inevitable conclusion that over 2.5 goals is a good bet at 2.166/5.
It is also worth noting that Tottenham lead the Premier League for games with over 2.5 goals both overall (14 out of 20) and on the road (jointly, with seven out of nine). And seven of Palace's 10 games against top-half teams have had over 2.5 goals, including all four at home, although one of the exceptions was the 0-0 at White Hart Lane.
What might change the stats is that Pardew could set up his team in a tighter formation than before and try to nick a positive result that way. That possibility is heightened by the fact that Palace are weak up front, having failed to score in five of their last seven Premier League games (with just two of those going over 2.5 goals).
Match Odds and Over 2.5 Goals
Both a Tottenham win and over 2.5 goals are well indicated at the odds and it looks worth combining them to make the best bet on this match. This season eight of Tottenham's 10 wins have had over 2.5 goals, along with six of Palace's nine defeats, so there looks a reasonable chance of collecting - look for 4.03/1 or better once liquidity arrives nearer kick-off.
Back Tottenham To Win and Over 2.5 Goals at 4.03/1 or better (1pt)