BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 16TH DECEMBER, 2012
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0) SWANSEA CITY 0 (0)
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Mr. S. Long & Mr. S. Child (not as per programme)
Fourth Official:- Mr. M. Atkinson
Spurs (4-4-2):- Lloris; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon, Dembele (sub Parker, 90), Sandro, Dempsey (sub Sigurdsson, 70); Adebayor (sub Townsend, 72), Defoe
Subs not used:- Friedel; Caulker; Huddlestone, Livermore
Booked:- Dembele (foul), Defoe (foul on Britton), Livermore (entering field of play without permission)
Swansea (4-2-3-1):- Tremmel; Tiendalli, Chico, Williams (Capt.), Davies; Britton, Ki (sub Moore, 75); Dyer (sub Graham, 86), De Guzman (sub Agustien, 60), Routledge; Michu
Subs not used:- Cornell; Monk, Richards, Shechter
Booked:- Dyer (foul on Naughton), De Guzman (foul on Dembele), Chico (foul on Townsend)
Oh, how we sang, when Vertonghen gave it a bang!
Swansea had an excellent game plan, and had every chance of taking at least a point back across the Severn Bridge until Jan Vertonghen gave Kyle Walker's 75th minute free kick a tasty whack that beat goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel's left fingertips to give Spurs a precious lead, and a vital three points that takes us back into fourth place, two points above Everton.
Once again, given the personnel in the shape of a fit Adebayor, and top scorer Jermain Defoe, Andre Villas-Boas went with an attacking frame of mind and a 4-4-2. Not being afraid to ring the changes, he put Steven Caulker on the bench, and returned Jan Vertonghen to his best position at centre back, with Kyle Naughton entrusted with the left back position.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, like several other recent opposing managers, perhaps anticipated a 4-2-3-1 from Spurs, and sought to match that formation.
Swansea actually had the better of the early exchanges without forcing anything other than a corner, before regressing to a defensive dome of ten men behind the ball, as Spurs dominated possession and territory from 10 minutes onwards.
Swansea did look good on the break though, and more threatening than Spurs sometimes, as the home side slid into the habit of being ponderous on the ball, failing to break the defensive wall. Spurs did outnumber Swansea's paltry number of attempts on goal though, throughout the game.
After a Spurs throw on the right, Sandro took a swing at the ball with his right foot, but the attempt actually went out for a Swansea throw in the south-east corner. Adebayor was sent clear down the middle and sent Defoe away down the left channel. Defoe tried a left footed shot, but it went straight to the keeper's hands.
Dembele carried the ball on a run from the right towards the middle, and again Defoe had shooting chance. This one was on his right foot and was blocked. Lennon and Walker combined on the right and Walker crossed low and hard. Adebayor had a chance in front of goal, but this too was blocked by the determined Swans' defence.
Swansea were marking very tightly as soon as Spurs advanced, making it very difficult for the home side to penetrate. Spurs kept trying to force an opening. Dembele passed to Dempsey, who turned the ball to Defoe, who tried a snapshot, which passed just outside the keeper's left post. Dempsey gave the keeper an easy save from a header after a lofted cross by Lennon.
Lennon was then the recipient of a cross by Walker. Aaron ran inside with the ball and hit a shot on target which again was blocked, then cleared. Walker sent in a low cross to the near post, where Dempsey had a decent effort, but again a Swansea defender's feet cleared the ball.
After 31 minutes Swansea gave the Spurs defence a moment of genuine danger when right back Tiendalli crossed and former Spurs man Wayne Routledge tried to meet the ball with a dipping header. The ball passed a yard in front of his advance.
After Naughton and Dempsey had combined on the left and the ball came inside, it fell to Kyle Walker, who hit a cracking shot, that keeper Tremmel just about managed to stop, but could not hold cleanly. De Guzman had a shot at the other end which passed over.
Aaron Lennon had a decent effort on goal, after carrying the ball in from the right. The keeper had to make a dive to his right to keep the ball at bay.
Just before the break, after a mix-up in the middle between Sandro and Dembele, Michu tried a cheeky 40 yarder, which Lloris watched pass over his right corner.
Routledge got the better of Gallas early in the second half, but his low cross passed harmlessly through the Spurs area. At the other end, Defoe hit a shot that was deflected for a corner.
Adebayor picked up a ball in the middle, and for once, managed to hold it up, turn quickly to his left, taking a solo run down the middle, and hitting a well-placed shot to the right of Tremmel, who was happy to concede a corner.
Dembele saw yellow for a foul in the midfield, but then hit a shot on target, which Adebayor managed to deflect out of play.
After 58 minutes, Spurs broke out of their own half, with Lennon feeding Defoe, who teed up Kyle Walker. Walker failed to even hit the target. Defoe fired wide after a run and pass by Dembele.
Although Lennon was there to take on defenders, Spurs were clearly missing the pace of Bale, and his ability to turn the game with a moment of magic. I felt this was an opportunity for Andros Townsend, and he did arrive, but only after Sigurdsson had replaced Dempsey. I felt both substitutes had a good effect and influence on the game.
Sigurdsson sent some nice through passes, and Townsend, playing on the right wing, gave the Swansea defence more to think about.
Indeed, it was after a foul on Townsend that Spurs scored, with fifteen minutes to go. Kyle Walker took the free kick, which fell to Vertonghen, who lashed a cracking shot back across the goal. Tremmel seemed to get his fingertips to the ball, but it hit the net inside his left post, leading to raucous cheers, and subsequent chants for Vertonghen. Vertonghen had been impressive at the back for Spurs too.
Chico Flores got a yellow card for another foul on the advancing Townsend. Walker took another free kick, and Vertonghen had another crack at goal, which was deflected wide for a corner.
With three minutes to go, and the game now getting stretched, the ball fell for Dembele, passing to Sigurdsson, who fed Defoe. Jermain failed with his shot, but Spurs did force a subsequent corner.
We were surprised to see the fourth official indicate there would be 5 minutes of added time, but eventually we got eight full minutes! Scott Parker came on to rapturous applause, as Spurs defended a couple of corners and a bit of Swansea pressure.
There was high drama as Michu fell to the ground when Lloris came out to punch a ball clear. Spurs broke clear, through Townsend, but the keeper saved, and Michu received treatment. There was some shenanigans between various players. Walker and Chico seemed to meet at the half-way line, and unused substitute Jake Livermore actually got a yellow card for entering the field of play, getting as far as the centre circle.
There was plenty of frustration around the stands, and with Stoke to come next week, we can look forward to another difficult game, against a team that will make it as hard and unpleasant as possible for Spurs, and their fans. There is an outside chance that Gareth Bale might be fit for that game. I'm sure he will relish another encounter with Mister Adam!
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