Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

AVB expects tough Palace test

Andre Villas-Boas is looking forward to returning to the dugout as Spurs look to start the season with a win

Andre Villas-Boas expects his Tottenham team to walk in to a cauldron of hostile noise on Sunday when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

After a summer spent batting away questions about Gareth Bale's future, Villas-Boas is looking forward to returning to the dugout as Spurs look to start the season with a win.

Although Villas-Boas will be without Bale, who has a foot injury, for Sunday's game, the Spurs boss has the luxury of having four new signings available for the game in south-east London.

After a summer of frustration in the transfer market, Ian Holloway's team are favourites for the drop, but Villas-Boas is wary of under-estimating the newly-promoted side on Sunday.

Given that the fixture will be Palace's first in the top-flight in eight years, Villas-Boas expects a raucous atmosphere at Selhurst Park.

"It will be a difficult game because of Selhurst Park," Villas-Boas told Spurs TV Online. "As a stadium, it's very hard to play in, there will be lots of emotion and intensity, and it's always difficult to play against a team that has just come up."

While Spurs have spent almost £60million on new signings, Palace have struggled to add any experienced players to their squad.

To make matters worse, two of the club's key players from last year, Glenn Murray and Yannick Bolasie, are injured, as is new signing Jerome Thomas.

Villas-Boas still expects a competitive game from Holloway's side, though, partly because he has not been able to draw on the experience of playing Palace last year in his usually thorough preparation for the match.

"Obviously Palace have a couple of problems - they are trying to put their team together, but we don't know them as well as other teams, and that is always a factor," the 35-year-old said.

"We have to be disciplined in that respect and hopefully with the quality we have, we hope that can make the difference and we hope can bring back the three points."

Roberto Soldado, who said earlier in the week that he hopes to score 20 goals this season, is expected to line up in attack while Paulinho is likely to start in midfield.

There is also a chance that Etienne Capoue could be drafted in at centre-back if Villas-Boas decides Younes Kaboul should not be risked following his comeback from a year-long injury layoff.

Capoue, who joined from Toulouse on Thursday for £8.6million, is excited by the prospect of playing for the north London club.

"I watched some Tottenham games last year and they have a very good style and they have a good spirit," the France international said. "I want to play a lot of games here. It's very nice.

"Next season for me I hope to play a lot of Premier League games and in Europe and at the end of the year there is a World Cup in Brazil so that is a good target for me."

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