|DATE||Sunday 1st April 2012|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
Swansea City have rightly been picking up the plaudits for their
possession based brand off football that has seen them cement a
mid-table place in the Premier League in their first season
following promotion via the play-offs.
Brendan Rodgers has been making a name for himself after unhappy stints at Watford and Reading, but taking on Roberto Martinez's good work, he has made the Swans a formidable outfit, who can defend and scare bigger teams, as they make them work for the ball.
Unfortunately for the Welsh club, they will not be able to field Steven Caulker, as our centre half will be unable to play against his own club, but the impressive Michel Vorm will be in goal and he has proved a very good signing for Rodgers. Big, strong and agile, he has come from nowhere to make some very important performances for the Swans. In defence, Allan Tate has played only a handful of matches and Ashley Williams has been the mainstay in the middle of the back four with Caulker. Another strong player, he is hard to knock off the ball and likes to tackle like a tank. Sometimes, he can be a little rash and a nippy forward can cause him problems. Angel Rangel has been a player on the wish lists of a number of clubs in the Premier League and his attacking play from right back has been noted. On the other flank, left back Neil Taylor is highly rated and he also likes to get forward, but both full backs might be asked to hold their positions, if Aaron Lennon is fit to partner wing twin Gareth Bale.
Midfielders Ferry Bodde and Kemy Agustien are both out for the season and Andrea Orlandi might have recovered from a knee knock for this game, but the pairing of Leon Britton and Joe Allen has been the heartbeat of the midfield for City. Their passing, hard work and movement, they have caused other sides problems for the whole 90 minutes, with speedy wingers in the shape of former Spur Wayne Routledge or Nathan Dyer, they have the weapons to attack wide and whip crosses into the area. Both are experienced players and can get behind defences, while another ex-Spur - Mark Gower - brings an older head to proceedings and his tigerish tackling and accurate passing make him a useful player to have in the side or on the bench. Chelsea loan player Josh McEachran hasn't had much game time at Swansea, but might yet play a part in the run-in, when the depth of the squad comes into it's own. New loan signing Gylfi Sigurdsson has made an instant impact with a glut of goals which have helped Swansea into 10th place. He is a rangy Icelandic attacking midfielder and he is certainly one who will need to be picked up from dead ball situations, when he is not taking them, as he is a bit of an expert at that too.
Rodgers strengthened the attack when they came up and Danny Graham was a regular goal-scorer at Watford before joining City. Tall and with a striker's instinct for getting his shots on target, he scored all sort of goals and that has to be a concern for any opposition. Another former Chelsea man is Scott Sinclair, who is a confident dribbler and a player who scores, sometimes from the spot, but he is often in the right place if a ball comes into the area and his movement off the ball needs to be monitored. Luke Moore is the former West Bromwich Albion forward and still gets among the goals, but less frequently than he used to and former Reading and Middlesbrough striker Leroy Lita is reaching the latter stages of a career that has seen him regularly score, but his first team games are less frequent now. More often used from the bench, he will probably sit this one out from the start.
With Spurs liking to have a lot of the ball, there might not be enough possession to share and the pace and tempo we play at might push Swansea back from the start and keep them on the back foot. Unfortunately, it has not been the case of late and Spurs have been sluggish starters, which Swansea may have noted and may come to take the game to us, although that might leave them vulnerable at the back.
It will be an interesting match and one I am looking forward to as it will be good to see how the Swans play away from home. With a result important for Tottenham, the taking of their opportunities will be imperative and I think they will have a little too much for Swansea to cope with on the day.
It won't be a thriller, but hopefully it will be a game that features both sides playing expansive football and making the most of the unseasonable weather to provide an afternoon of entertainment.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Swansea City 0|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs should welcome back Aaron Lennon, who is fit again after a hamstring pull and all except for Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson (both ankle) are fit for the game, although Ledley King may be rested.
SWANSEA CITY TEAM NEWS :
On loan Steven Caulker is unable to play this game against his parent club, but Garry monk may replace him. Nathan Dyer is available again after suspension, but he may have to settle for a role as a substitute, afer Wayne Routledge has done well in his place during his absence.
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Swansea City 1 (0)
Sunday 1st April 2012 Kick off 16:00
White Hart Lane
van der Vaart 19
|Crowd : 36,174||Weather : Warm, sunny|
|Referee : Andre Marriner (West MIdlands)||Assistant Referees : G. Beswick; D. Richardson|
|Fourth Official : Mike Dean||
Match Delegate : Nick Cusack
Professional Game Match Observer : W J Norbury
|Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Swansea City :||kit|
7 Lennon 71)
11 van der Vaart (29 Livermore 85)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Brendan Rodgers|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : 32 Red|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : adidas|
A game that featured two sides enjoying keeping possession is a rarity in the top flight these days, when the pressure is on to fight for the right to maintain Premier League status. But Spurs and Swansea put on a good show in bright April sunshine, with Spurs coming out on top despite some resilient defending by the Swans who eventually went down 3-1.
There were moments of concern for Tottenham and one excellent finger-tip save from Brad Friedel stopped a certain goal by Sigurdsson and more than once Scott Parker and Younes Kaboul were willing to throw themselves in the way of shots to protect the American keeper. Meanwhile, at the other end, Michel Vorm made two very good saves and some determined defending stopped Spurs getting more than their three goals.
The changes from the Bolton FA Cup game were not unexpected. Brad took up his place between the sticks again and Sandro replaced Jake Livermore, Kaboul and Gallas formed the central defensive pairing, while Aaron Lennon had to make do with a place on the bench. As for Swansea, they had pretty much their first choice XI out, with Dyer kept out by former Spur Wayne Routledge and current Spur Steven Caulker had to sit the game out, as he can't play while on loan at the Liberty Stadium.
The game opened with Swansea stroking the ball about comfortably and that was the thing you noticed ... that most of their players looked comfortable on the ball, but for all the possession ,there was little penetration and only Routledge's shot from the edge of the box that flew just past Friedel's right hand post gave Spurs cause for concern, with that coming from a slack pass and some loose defending. Luka Modric's early contributions went astray and some Spurs fans barracked him for this and his team-mates for not steaming about in the warm sun to close down the orange shirted visitors. But there was little to concern them when we went forward apart from the lack of outcome in the form of goals.
van der Vaart had the first Spurs effort on goal, with a move involving Modric on the left, playing the ball into Adebayor, who set up Rafael for a shot, which took a deflection on it's way wide on the left from a position inside the box on the right, but a goal kick was given. It was not to be the last dodgy decision by Marriner. Benoit Assou-Ekotto had obviously been told to stick close to Routledge, as he went deep with him when the winger dropped deep and got into him quickly when the ball was played up to him. He couldn't stop him having a shot into the side netting on the quarter of an hour mark, but within five minutes, Spurs had taken the lead.
And it was van der Vaart who hit the net. Friedel started the move with a throw out and when it got to Modric, a couple of passes later, he threaded it inside the full back down the left. A change of pace took Bale away from Taylor and his low ball in bounced away off a defender to Rafa, just outside the box. With the goal in front of him and Vorm just to the right of centre as he looked he had a lot of goal to aim at and he deliberately placed the ball hard and high into the net to the keeper's right and he was rooted to the spot. It was a crisp finish to give Spurs the advantage.
With Bale out side on the left, he was causing Swansea all sorts of problems. Twice he got away and played low balls into the box, but there was an orange shirt there each time to stop it. And it was his corner just before 30 minutes that Younes Kaboul rose highest to and headed back towards goal for Vorm to rise to his right and push the ball out. Within a minute, a corner at the other end should have brought an equaliser for Swansea, but Siggurdsson's delivery was met by Ashley Williams and his header was down, but too far down, as it bounced over the bar, when a better header might have found the net.
In the 34th minute, a loose pass across the 25 yard line gave possession to Adebayor, who chose to pass right to pass right to Sandro, whose shot hit a defender and flew up in the air, landing at Bale's feet outside the box and his first time effort flew just wide. He was at it again, when another clearance dropped for him and he sliced across the ball taking it just over Vorm's angle of right hand post and bar. Modric pulled a shot wide when well placed centrally before the half-time whistle, but should have hit the target at least.
The half-time entertainment was an appearance by celebrity Spurs fan Leslie Phillips and a chat with some old Swansea/Spurs players in Terry Medwin and Cliff Jones. When the second half started, Rafael van der Vaart was almost knocked cold as he slid in to stop a clearance and took it flush in the face !! Bale was getting free on the left and a long cross found Walker rising at the far post, but twelve yards out and his header went too high and then suddenly, Siggurdsson was at the other end, cutting onto his left foot from right of centre and unleashing a rising shot that Brad did very well to dive to his left and get a touch to divert it onto the post.
However, with 59 minutes on the clock, a ball in from the left was chested down by Routledge to Siggurdsson on the edge of the area and he struck the ball, left footed into the ground and it bounced up and over the reach of Friedel's dive to his right and into the net to make it 1-1. It had been coming, as Spurs seemed to be dropping a little deeper, so had undone the good work of the first half, when they worked hard to shut Swansea down and force them into errors. Now they had to do it all over again.
Spurs attacked and Bale's cross was blocked and then another found van der Vaart running in at the near post and his header was beaten out by Vorm, when it would have crept in at the near post and then Bale hit a tame shot with his right foot at Vorm, before Aaron Lennon was introduce dint he 71st minute. Gareth drove down the left and a low ball in was knocked out for a corner, which Rafa took and Bale got a head to it, but the ball drifted across goal and out behind for what should have been a goal-kick, but Marriner gave another corner. When Rafa played this one in, it was to the centre of the six yard box and Emmanuel Adebayor rose above everyone to head home a goal and restore the lead in the 73rd minute. For a player of his height he doesn't score enough with his head and this was just what Tottenham needed.
Swansea had a chance to pull level again, when Parker fouled substitute Luke Moore on the edge of the D, but dead ball specialist Siggurdsson missed the goal by a foot or so, putting it just wide. Spurs countered with Lennon and Modric linking up before the Croatian midfielder finished weakly. However, Bale broke through the middle and heading right, cut back onto his left foot on the edge of the box and hit a shot that the keeper did well to block, but it went up in the air and fell to Lennon. Faced by Leon Britton, he had the talent to take it past him and dink up a cross to the middle of the six yard box, where Adebayor jumped to head home his second of the day and make the score 3-1. That virtually wrapped up the points for Tottenham.
Twice towards the end, Kaboul threw himself in the way of shots from Siggurdsson and Sinclair to deny the visitors another goal and the defence stood firm in the face of a couple of spells of pressure from Swansea, but in the end they lacked sufficient goal threat and Tottenham's wide play opened them up for the goals to come in the second half. The team put in a lot of effort and Scott Parker was virtually out on his feet at the end, while Bale had tested the Swans defence with his lung-busting runs.
With another goal from a corner kick and two headed goals, these are heady days for Tottenham. Still in fourth place, but extending the gap between them and Chelsea and Newcastle again and only kept out of third by one Arsenal goal, Spurs are poised to go to the end of the season to challenge for third place. While there may be some twists and turns for all the clubs in the Premier League before the end of the season, that equally applies to Tottenham and we must be ready to try and ensure that as few as possible.
Performances like this in our remaining seven cup finals in the league might just prove the difference.
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|What you thought|
|Sparky Marky||There were
a few things you failed to mention ...
1. Luka Modric's pass with played with precise weight and with the outside of his foot that took the full back out of the game for Bale to set up the first goal.
2. Benny took a free-kick in his own half that he tried to hit across field, but he only succeeded in smacking it straight into Scott Parker's back.
3. When Bale crossed in the second half to the far post when Kyle Walker headed over the bar, the full back was frustrated not to do better and took a swing at fresh air, but found Swansea defender Neil Taylor standing there in his way, taking a kick in the shin for his troubles !!
|Other scores during this week :|
|Everton||2||West Bromwich Albion||0||Saturday|
|Queens Park Rangers||2||Arsenal||1||Saturday|
|Wigan Athletic||2||Stoke City||0||Saturday|
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||2||Bolton Wanderers||3||Saturday|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||31||10||6||16||36||42||36||-7|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||31||7||7||17||35||54||28||-19|
Position before match :
Position after match : 4th
Position after the weekend : 4th
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