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Swansea v Spurs, 30.03.13

BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 30TH MARCH, 2013
(3 PM)
SWANSEA CITY 1 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)

Swansea scorer:-
Michu, 71

Spurs scorers:-
Vertonghen, 7
Bale, 21

Attendance:- 20,604

Referee:- Mr. Anthony Taylor
Assistants:- Mr. S. Long & Mr. A. Garratt
Fourth official:- Mr. R. East

Teams:-
Swansea (4-2-3-1):- Vorm; Tiendalli, Chico Flores (sub Monk, 66), Williams (Capt.), Davies; De Guzman (sub Ki Sung-Yeung, 57), Britton; Dyer, Routledge, Pablo (sub SHechter, 79); Michu

Subs not used:- Tremmel; Bartley, Lamah, Moore

Booked:- Michu (foul on Parker), Davies (foul on Lennon)

Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Friedel; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Sigurdsson (sub Holtby, 76); Bale; Adebayor (sub Defoe, 61)

Subs not used:- Archer (no. 57); Assou-Ekotto, Caulker; Huddlestone, Livermore

Booked:- Adebayor (foul on Tiendalli), Walker (foul on Pablo), Holtby (foul on Dyer), Parker (foul on Monk)

Just like watching England

Last Tuesday, those of us of an English persuasion spent an agonising second half of their game in Montenegro, were they had to be satisfied with a draw. The pattern of Spurs’ game at The Liberty Stadium today was similar insofar as we had an excellent start, scoring two goals in the first 21 minutes, but then towards half-time and almost throughout the second half, we witnessed a backs to the wall situation where the home side were allowed too much room; too much possession; and too many chances to score. We came away with a better result than England and a precious three points on a day when Chelsea lost at Southampton and slipped below us, but it became very hard work to watch, and apart from the result, I didn’t feel good about Spurs at the end.

Internet rumours had been rife before the game to the effect that Hugo Lloris had either broken an arm, or injured a knee in training, and that Jordan Archer had been recalled from his loan to act as Brad Friedel’s reserve. I’ve seen no real confirmation of the nature of Lloris’s injury, but I hope that it is one he can recover from before too long. Brad Friedel did some good things today, especially being alert and quick enough to make an excellent save from a quickly taken Swansea free kick. However, I do feel that an advancing Lloris would have snuffed out the first half chance from which Nathan Dyer should have scored from a close range header, which first re-bounded off the bar, and which he then headed wide.

The other surprise, apart from the absence of Lloris was AVB’s choice of Kyle Naughton at left back. Maybe Benoit Assou-Ekotto was more tired than other players after his International commitment and travel, but like the other Kyle (Walker), Naughton seems to afford far too much space to the opposing wing players on their flanks. Spurs’ style today, even with Lennon in the team was “the narrow way”, and Michael Laudrup’s Swansea sought to expose the freedom and gift of so much space to feed Michu in the middle. Maybe that’s where AVB wanted Swansea to attack?

Spurs had the best of starts with a goal just inside seven minutes. Jan Vertonghen went on a random charge forward, and exchanged the ball with Gareth Bale, whose final pass was a delightful chip over the defence for Vertonghen to run onto and convert delightfully taking one touch before firing just inside Vorm’s right post. At this stage, “The Swans” did look as if they had the post League Cup blues, as Spurs easily dominated the possession and the play. Dembele carried the ball forward centrally and sent Adebayor away down the right channel with a great ball in front of the striker, who was left in a one on one situation with Vorm, but failed, with the keeper coming out with the ball.

Swansea won a corner after a good exchange between Routledge and Dyer. Dyer utilised the space left by Naughton (and it should be said by Sigurdsson), sending in a cross which Parker put out for what was a cheap corner, as there was surely time to either clear or at least concede a throw. From the corner, Michu headed wide.

Then, in the 21st minute, Jan Vertonghen dramatically repaid the compliment that Bale had given him for the first goal. Vertonghen again charged forward, and fed the ball to Bale, who took a touch, a short back-lift, and a delightful shot curved just inside the same post where Vertonghen had scored. He was born to play for Spurs indeed!

The Swansea fans started to get highly irritated with Friedel who took ages over every goal kick or situation where he could run down time, and psychologically, Spurs were already looking to see out the game with a two goal lead. Somebody near me said we needed the third goal, perhaps thinking of the recent loss at Anfield, and as it panned out, maybe they were right.

Friedel batted away a Tiendalli effort to concede a corner, and soon after that, Swansea’s other full back Ben Davies had a shot which passed wide. Swansea had well and truly woken up, and their crowd was fired up. Bale showed great skill at the other end, getting forward centrally and forging a shooting chance, which he pushed just the wrong wide of the post. Then, with 34 minutes gone, Dyer had an amazing chance in front of goal. The ball had been crossed from the right by Tiendalli, and Friedel had failed to claim the ball, staying on his line, as Dyer met it with a powerful headed which rebounded off the bar, and then with an involuntary header from the rebound, Dyer put the ball outside the post. It was a great escape and a warning for Spurs.

After the break, Spurs committed one of those dangerous fouls just outside the box, and the referee allowed a rapid free kick, which is something I have not seen for ages. Here Friedel was alert and saved the shot well. Spurs got forward and Lennon fed the ball to Sigurdsson who curled shot towards the far post which Vorm saved well, pushing the ball into the path of Bale beyond the far post. Bale headed, but the keeper saved this time.

Michu had more or less a free header with insufficient challenge by Dawson, after Tiendalli’s cross, but thankfully for Spurs, the high-scoring forward put this wide. Laudrup replaced De Guzman with Ki Sung-Yeung, whilst AVB put on Defoe in place of Adebayor. Defoe hardly had a touch, partly because Spurs failed to get forward much in what was left of the game, with most of the play in front of their goal.

Michu saw a yellow card after a heavy challenge on Parker, and then pushed a protesting Spurs player away. This might have been Michael Dawson. With all the pressure, it came as no surprise when Swansea got a goal back. It was disappointing how it came. Bale had conceded the corner just inside the flag, and Michu headed home from the back post. Game on!

Spurs did try an immediate response with Dembele on a run out of defence, feeding Bale at the right time. Bale was being closed down well, but still got his shot off, hitting bottom outside of Vorm’s right post. Now Spurs made a second substitution, with Holtby replacing Sigurdsson. The main effect of this change was that Bale was moved to the left side and he played a big role assisting Naughton with defensive duties down the left flank.

Defoe did get a touch after 85 minutes, when Dembele again charged down the middle and fed him the ball. Jermain took a good shot and Vorm saved well. We had five minutes of added time to see out, and they did include a scramble or two and a great block by Bale himself, performing great duty at the other end of the pitch for a change. Spurs managed to spend some time playing time out near the Swansea corner flag, and in the dying seconds, Bale went on a charge from his own half, hitting a good shot on target, which Vorm saved to give Swansea one last pop at the Spurs goal.

We have extended our club Premier League record now, as this was our ninth away league win of the season. It was also our sixth league “double” of the season. The game was not easy to watch, but with that Chelsea defeat, the win was oh so precious. There will be a few twists and turns on what promises to be an exciting and tense run-in, with our next league game at home to Everton next Sunday just as hard, and just as crucial.

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