Tottenham 3-0 Crystal Palace: Inside story of how Covid threatened to disrupt the Boxing Day fixture

Jordan Ayew celebrates with Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace after scoring (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)Jordan Ayew celebrates with Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace after scoring (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
Jordan Ayew celebrates with Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace after scoring (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Tottenham had no Christmas hangover after putting three past Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

Tottenham produced a champagne performance to celebrate Christmas with a 3-0 win against Covid-hit Crystal Palace on Boxing day at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min scored for the Lillywhites but Palace did give them a hand with the sending off of Wilfried Zaha.

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Palace were also without Patrick Vieira who tested positive to Covid-19 and the win means Tottenham are now six games unbeaten and just six points behind fourth placed Arsenal who have played three games more.

Up until this morning, Palace were hoping to get the game rescheduled but eventually had to play and LondonWorld’s brings you details of how the Eagles dealt with one of their most chaotic Boxing Day in their recent history.

manager Antonio Conte of Tottenham Hotspur arrive for the Premier League match (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)manager Antonio Conte of Tottenham Hotspur arrive for the Premier League match (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
manager Antonio Conte of Tottenham Hotspur arrive for the Premier League match (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Christmas Eve tests that nearly ruined the game

On the Eve of Christmas the players, technical team and staff had the final test because Vieira was giving them the Christmas day off, and players were due to report to their team hotel in Holborn to prepare for the game at 9:00pm.

But the entire evening  brought along a couple of positive Covid-19 tests, one midfielder who was in line to be included in the England squad for the Euros returned a positive test alongside another who has been signed from the Championship and expected to shine bright at some point this season.

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Those cases combined with two kitchen staff and a couple of supporting staff meant it was risky to have the pre-planned camping in Holborn.

The status of the manager Patrick Vieira was still uncertain but later tests also confirmed he had returned a positive Covid test.

Vieira’s positive test was a huge blow as he had been in contact with players preparing for the game and even conducted his pre-match Press Conference the previous day.

Crystal Palace put in a request to have the game rescheduled and asked players to scrap the pre-planned camping.

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The Premier League went straight into work looking into the request, a late positive test then came in to compile the misery and further disrupts preparations.

Manager Patrick Vieira of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)Manager Patrick Vieira of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
Manager Patrick Vieira of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images) | Getty Images

The Morning of the game

The morning of Boxing Day, Palace players were still in bed in their homes while Tottenham players were at Hotspur Way in Enfield waiting for the Premier League to make a decision.

A message then arrived around half past eight that the Premier League had decided that the game would go ahead so players were told to head to a hurriedly arranged short meeting and then their drivers would then drive them straight away to the Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium after that.

Crystal Palace made an attempt to keep players away from each other as much as possible to limit the possible spread of the Omicron virus that had threatened the entire Christmas fixtures.

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It was at that hurriedly assembled meeting that most of the players found out that manager Patrick Vieira had tested positive and would not be part of the game.

The game

Osian Roberts, a man who Vieira has been working with on tactics and shares the same footballing philosophy was tasked to lead the team and he stuck to the same line-up he had discussed with Vieira on phone.

The plan was all thrown out of the window though when often reliable Wilfred Zaha got sent off for two really avoidable yellow cards at a time when Palace were two goals down and chasing the game.

It is very worth noting that there was a communication channel that was created to keep the technical team in contact with Vieira who was watching the game on a big screen from his home.

Osian Roberts confirmed that that: “I was not in touch with him directly but there was a communication channel that was in place and we made sure we were in touch with him during the game.”

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