Where do Tottenham Hotspur fall short compared to Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal? Okay, let me a bit more specific (otherwise we’d be here all day): why might Crystal Palace represent good value to get the better of Spurs on the opening day of the forthcoming Premier League season?
The answer? Tottenham’s woeful record on the first day, a poor run that stretches back over ten years of faltering starts.
As you may have read earlier, we compiled a league table consisting of each of the 20 Premier League side’s opening-day results over the past decade, with much of the table looking as you might expect: Chelsea at the top with nine wins and a draw, undefeated Arsenal in second and Manchester United in third.
But one anomaly really sticks out (okay, two if you count West Ham United making up the Champions League places) and that is Spurs languishing in the relegation zone with just eight points from their last ten opening fixtures.
Between Glenn Hoddle, Jacques Santini, Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp and Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham have secured just two opening-day victories since 2003, managed to lose on six different occasions and mustered just seven goals – the fewest of any of the teams who will play in the Premier League next season.
Is it just coincidence? Or is there something else at work?
Something that has not helped Tottenham’s starts in recent years is the transfer policy employed by Daniel Levy.
The White Hart Lane chairman drives a hard bargain, that much is true, but he often leaves all of Spurs’ business to the very end of the transfer window – by which time the season has started, and points have been lost.
And with little in the way of ins or outs so far, is Villas-Boas about to suffer the same fate again?
If so, there could be worse bets than the 7/2 on Crystal Palace to begin their first Premier League campaign in eight years with a notable three points (the draw is 11/4, with Spurs as 7/10 favourites).
Only Cardiff City and Bolton Wanderers won more points at home in the Championship last term than the Eagles, who scored the most home goals in the division – 52 in 23 fixtures at Selhurst Park.
And with Ian Holloway promising more of the swashbuckling football that epitomised his time in charge of Blackpool, it could be that Palace can take advantage of Tottenham’s trend and make it another dodgy start for the white half of north London.