You know what you’re going to get from Swansea and given the quality of their recent away win at the Arse, it must’ve been tempting for Villas-Boas to make personnel changes to the selection repeatedly exposed on the counter at Goodison. Admittedly if he did want to make alterations he didn’t have many options, there were some though – Livermore in as a chaser/harrier, a move to three at the back or one up front to crowd the midfield perhaps. That he chose only to swap Caulker for Naughton spoke volumes for his faith in the player’s ability to improve and adapt.
It was a positive move and one that had those of us whose Spurs mug is generally half empty in trepidacious mood before kick-off. AVB was proved right though as he was rewarded with a committed and accomplished display that deserved a far more comfortable and emphatic victory than that which was eventually achieved.
Swansea, resplendent in Cardiff red shirts, began brightly but were soon pressed back by Sandro, Dembélé and the defence who fought tigerishly for possession all over the field. That we had to wait until Vertonghen’s calm and classy volley to go ahead was down to the absence of the clinical finishing that has recently characterised Defoe’s play and the spread of the malaise through the rest of the side. Dembélé strode forward with purpose and skill, Adebayor worked to find space, the full backs added numbers on the flanks and all the while Sandro tackled and chased.
Defoe, Adebayor, Lennon, Gallas and Walker all went close in the first half and similarly in the second. The pressure eventually paid off when Vertonghen struck and we even held on during the last ten minutes (plus five added on) despite Mike Dean coming close to losing control and bringing chaos where there was peace.
Everyone played well, Lloris didn’t have any saves to make but his speed off his line and confidence with crosses was key late on. Dempsey’s role was less roving than normal and Townsend’s twenty minutes of action was far more disciplined and composed than we’ve seen from him so far.
We missed Bale, we had no proper width until Townsend’s entrance, Adebayor was more often than not the widest man on the left and Lennon was tucked in on the right. Despite this we slaughtered them on possession (which is what they’re all about) according to the BBC and created a very healthy number of chances (24 shots versus 4 from the away side, none on target). We had to wait for the winner but when it came it was merited and Swansea were dispatched with nothing, which frankly is all their ambition deserved.
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