Patrick Vieira has warned it would be a “huge mistake” for his Crystal Palace players to focus solely on closing down Harry Kane when they host Tottenham on Wednesday.
Kane’s 13 goals so far this season is enough to finish second in the Premier League, still eight short of Erling Haaland’s astounding 21 goals for Manchester City.
Vieira, who won his first win as Eagles boss against Spurs last season, appreciated the threat posed by the England captain but warned against falling into shortsightedness in a midweek matchup.
“You can’t stop him,” Vieira said. “I think if we just focus on him it will be a huge mistake because there are so many good players around him who can provide him with quality ball to finish it off.
“So the results of the team will be the main focus for us.”
Haaland has scored more goals than nine Premier League teams this season, while Kane’s total equals Everton and West Ham and is better than the efforts of Nottingham Forest and Wolves.
Palace have scored 17 goals so far this season, two of them in the first half of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, a relief after a disquieting 3-0 defeat to Fulham on Boxing Day in which they failed to register a single shot in objective.
Wednesday’s game will be the second of three games in one week for the 11th-seeded Eagles, in stark contrast to the sporadic first half of their campaign.
Palace did not play for nearly a month after the train strikes and the Queen’s death prompted further September postponements before Premier League action was put on hold again for the World Cup.
They will wrap up the week by hosting Southampton for an FA Cup third round clash, hoping to perform as well or better than their semi-final performance last season when they lost to eventual runners-up Chelsea at Wembley.
Vieira, whose side faces a tough battle against top-10 teams to start the new year, has also reiterated his ambition to secure more support during the January transfer window to give him more opportunities in the second half of the season.
He would particularly benefit from being assisted in midfield as an injury-plagued James McArthur is not ready for an imminent return and his contract expires next summer, although Vieira said the 35-year-old could take part in team training this week.
When asked about the busy schedule, Vieira added: “We are preparing for it. We had a two-week break and then came back and physically tried to get where we left off and of course it’s a challenge because you go six weeks without a proper competition.
“Then you go inside and then it’s game after game but hopefully we’ll be competitive game by game. Therefore, I strongly believe that we need to strengthen the squad to allow ourselves to be a little more competitive.