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).