The moment when Japhet Tanganga began to unravel a fine Tottenham performance

By Alasdair Gold

Nobody in a Tottenham shirt was more pumped up than Japhet Tanganga and ultimately it was what led to his downfall at Selhurst Park.

The 22-year-old was in the midst of a man of the match performance for Spurs. While that might not have been hard with the level of some of his team-mates' displays, Tanganga was making up for the early loss of Eric Dier to injury.

Both he and Joe Rodon, the Welshman playing his first competitive minutes in 11 weeks, were holding firm against the Crystal Palace attacks.

Then Tanganga had to take one for the team, a cynical challenge, with a shove on Wilfried Zaha as Palace broke down the left with Lucas Moura lying stricken at the other end of the pitch.

Ordinarily, in isolation that incident would have resulted in a yellow card, howls of frustration from the home crowd and a pat on the back from his team-mates for the maturity to make the foul in that position.

However, on this occasion, the outraged Zaha leapt up furiously and flung his arms out at Tanganga, the first swing perhaps lucky not to connect.

That fired up the Tottenham man who held the Ivory Coast international in a bearhug rather than raising his arms back.

To see the quiet, young Tanganga so enraged was rare in itself and he could be seen to be shouting things at Zaha that were entirely out of character.

The adrenaline was clearly still coursing through him when his decision-making left the building just five minutes later.

He made an excellent interception on the edge of his box, strode out with the ball and attempted to pass it to Harry Winks.

The ball instead bounced off Conor Gallagher and Tanganga ran forward and lunged at the loose ball, a split-second after Jordan Ayew had got there.

Referee Jonathan Moss had little choice but to show the second yellow card.

It left Tottenham in big trouble and cut short what was set to be an excellent display, one that probably would have done his chances of playing in his favoured central defence position more often the world of good.

With all of the injuries and absences, Tanganga and Rodon could yet be reunited on Thursday night in the Europa Conference League with Cristian Romero and Davinson Sanchez not returning from their Croatian exile until the day before the Chelsea match.

On the flanks, both full-backs' attacking play was non-existent.

Both Sergio Reguilon and debutant Emerson Royal had good moments in defending, the Brazilian more so in the first half.

However, in a 4-3-2-1 system that was meant to unleash them both to pin back Palace down the wings, they did anything but, with poor distribution in the main.

For Emerson it was a tough introduction to Premier League life with the match-up against Zaha and he will need to adapt quickly with more London derbies on the horizon.

With Dier's injury looking painful as he could barely walk down the tunnel, it could be that Nuno Espirito Santo needs to prepare a virtual plan for Romero and Sanchez to train tactically in Croatia this week and work towards a set idea for the back four to help them slip back into the backline on Sunday.

Spurs' goal difference was wiped out in one match and Espirito Santo will need to get the defence back on track for the visit of Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku, but at the same time be mindful that a packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will not accept the abysmal attacking attempts seen at Selhurst Park.


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