Tottenham learn to win in a new way as title questions ring louder

Winner: Ange Postecoglou has won eight of his first 10 league games (AFP via Getty Images)
Winner: Ange Postecoglou has won eight of his first 10 league games (AFP via Getty Images)

If winning at Selhurst Park is a useful litmus test for potential champions, then perhaps Ange Postecoglou's Tottenham really are the real deal.

Spurs cleared another hurdle in their increasingly promising season with a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace to move five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Can they? Will they? At the moment, it does not really matter but these are heady days at Spurs and it is hard to remember a time when there was so much giddy optimism around the club, even when they were coming up under Mauricio Pochettino.

An own goal from Joel Ward and another smart finish from Heung-min Son were enough, although Jordan Ayew's stoppage-time strike made for a hugely nervy finale after Spurs had squandered chances to extend their lead.

Heung-min Son thriving as a no9. (AFP via Getty Images)
Heung-min Son thriving as a no9. (AFP via Getty Images)

In the end, though, Spurs managed the pressure and expectation of the occasion, a tight turnaround from Monday's win over Fulham, the absence of Destiny Udogie and a stubborn Palace side in another night of positives for Postecoglou.

Rodrigo Bentancur even returned from an ACL injury in his first appearance since February for injury times.

Roy Hodgson - who was marking his 500th game in charge of an English club - had compared facing Postecoglou's Spurs to Manchester City or Arsenal, and Palace set up as if they were up against one of last season's top two.

The Eagles sat off Spurs in the first half, packed bodies behind the ball and effectively said, 'Break us down, if you can!'

Perhaps Spurs should take this kind of treatment as a compliment but they better get used to it from the top-flight's smaller clubs.

Like all technically able teams, Spurs prefer to be pressed by an opponent who commit men up the pitch in numbers.

Palace did neither, but still posed a threat going forward as their directness unsettled stand-in left-back Ben Davies, and Odsonne Edouard and Will Hughes buzzed around the heels of the visiting defenders.

Pedro Porro celebrates the first goal. (AFP via Getty Images)
Pedro Porro celebrates the first goal. (AFP via Getty Images)

Top teams have to find a way to win this type of game - it is old hat for Arsenal and particularly City by now - and the question at the start of the second half was whether Spurs could find a way through.

A moment of inspiration or a stroke of luck might do it, and their goal arrived in the form of the latter, Ward turning Maddison's cross into his own net without a white shirt for company.

Good teams make their own luck, however, and the goal came after a quicker passage of play from Spurs, with Pape Sarr bursting to the touchline in the build-up.

From there, Spurs' challenge was to exploit a Palace side who would have to be more adventurous in search of an equaliser.

If their first goal was fortunate, the clincher by Son was exhilarating and a fine example of 'Ange-Ball' in action.

Sarr was again involved, switching play to Brennan Johnson who had only just emerged from the bench. The winger headed into Maddison, burst into the box and picked up a return ball from the playmaker before squaring to Son for a trademark close-range finish.

It spoke to a side full of confidence, and a player in Son who is thriving in a new role at this relatively late stage of his career.

Bentancur and Bryan Gil, also making his first appearance of the season after surgery, should have been for a late procession but Ayew's brilliant strike gave Palace hope, and Spurs had to stay composed, showing yet another side of themselves, to see out another big win.