The Swans went into this game in a poor run of form, having taken just 3 points from the previous 7 league games and winning only once in 9 (all competitions). The squad was again seriously affected by injuries with Vorm, Monk, Canas, De Guzman, Hernandez, Dyer and Michu all missing. Roland Lamah and Dwight Tiendalli returned to the fold, taking up places on the bench after their respective absences.
In comparison, Tim Sherwood’s resurgent Spurs side arrived in South Wales having taken 13 points from a possible 15 in their last 5 games. They also had injuries to key players, including centre backs Kaboul and Vertonghen and Brazilian box to box midfielder Paulinho, however their superior resources meant that they were still able to field a strong side. Spurs started the game in 6th place in the Premier League with 40 points, compared to our 14th place and 21 points.
The Swans started the game well, with the midfield players and full backs looking to close Spurs down quickly and limit their space and time on the ball. Jordi Amat playing in an unfamiliar centre midfield role alongside stalwart Leon Britton appeared up for the challenge and put in a number of timely tackles. However, it was Jonjo Shelvey and Wilfried Bony in particular who looked sharp and appeared to give us the best chance of opening our account in the first quarter.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had to be sharp to snuff out an early chance for Bony and also parried a powerful shot by Jonjo Shelvey from distance. However, Lloris was well beaten on 23 minutes, when the big Ivory Coast international unleashed a rocket from over 25 yards drive, only to see it smash against the cross bar. Bony then had another opportunity but failed to steer a header goal wards after sneaking in behind the opposition defence, and then his pass to Wayne Routledge was too light as the winger was clear on goal.
Having been well on top for 35 minutes, Spurs made the Swans pay for their missed chances when the lively Christian Eriksen was given time to cross from the right and Adebayor headed in from just 5 yards. It was one of those goals where you have to say that our defending was just not good enough. The cross should never have come in, but when it did arrive, Tremmel, Chico and Rangel really should have done better as three against one really ought to have been enough to deal with the danger.
The Swans regrouped after the goal and did well not to concede again before half-time despite further pressure from the away side.
Despite calls from the home faithful, Laudrup chose not to make any changes at half time.
After the break, the Swans continued to push and probe, but were not helped when Jonjo Shelvey limped off after 6 minutes of the second half and headed straight down the tunnel. Wideman Roland Lamah joined the fray, with Laudrup reshuffling the line up to move Pozeulo into the number 10 spot (which is where he had been anyway in the first half rather than on the wing where he should have been)!
The Swans resistance crumbled early in the second half when Spurs’ England international full back Kyle Walker broke on the right and played a great ball into the box, which Chico Flores put into the Swansea net for 2-0 to the away side with just 53 minutes on the clock.
Tottenham now had their tails up and we looked increasingly vulnerable to Spurs’ quick breaks, both on the flanks and straight through the middle of the park. It was therefore of little surprise when Danny Rose set up an unmarked Adebayor, who had plenty of time to steady himself before firing in low past Gerhard Tremmel for Spurs’ third of the afternoon after 71 minutes.
There was no denying that the Swans were shell shocked at this point and there looked no way back. However, Wilfried Bony who was by far the pick of the Swansea players all afternoon just wouldn’t give up and his powerful volley gave the score some respectability on 78 minutes, following a cross by Roland Lamah. However, that really was it for the Swans and further goals did not look likely.
In summary, we started the game well and had some great chances, however we didn’t take them and were punished by a decisive Spurs attack. We can use the amount of games we have played in Europe and the number of injuries we have had as an excuse but the simple bottom line is that our results of late have been shocking and we are in a relegation battle. Looking at the table tonight, we are sitting in 15th place and are just 3 points ahead of bottom placed side Cardiff.
I think we really do need to improve at the back. Ashley Williams is a hero for me and continues to put in a good shift, however the rest of the defence including Tremmel have not been good enough of late. I would like to see Neil Taylor come in at left back and give Ben Davies a rest. I also favour Jordi Amat at centre half in place of Chico. Unfortunately, I don’t think Laudrup will bite the bullet and make either of these hard decisions.
We also clearly need another body in central midfield. Leon worked his socks off today even when we were 3-0 down, but some of the others didn’t I’m afraid to say. Finally, I’d have liked to have seen young Rory Donnelly get a chance. Pozeulo was not having one of his best games in a Swansea shirt and Alvaro Vazquez has had plenty of game time but has failed to hit the target, so surely at 3-0 down, Rory was worth a go?
The teams and player marks (out of 10):
Swansea City: Tremmel 5, Rangel 5, Davies 4, Chico 5, Williams (Captain) 5, Amat 5, Britton 7, Shelvey 6 (Lamah 6), Routledge 4, Pozeulo 4, Bony 8. Unused substitutes: Cornell, Taylor, Richards, Tiendalli, Vazquez, Donnelly
Swans’ man of the match: Wilfried Bony
Scorers: Bony 78
Tottenham: Lloris 8, Walker 7, Rose 7, Bentaleb 8, Dawson 7, Chiriches 6, Lennon 8 (Naughton 6), Dembele 7, Chadli 6 (Sigurdsson 6), Adebayor 9, Eriksen 7. Unused substitutes: Friedel, Holtby, Capoue, Defoe, Soldado
Spurs man of the match: Emmanuel Adebayor
Scorers: Adebayor 35, 71, Chico 53 (OG)
Possession stats: Swans 56%, Spurs 44%. These stats say it all. We had enough possession but were not clinical enough at either end of the pitch once again.
The match referee:
Martin Atkinson 7. Mr Atkinson issued 3 yellow cards and no reds. The guilty men were Amat, Bony and Rose. Mr Atkinson is not one of my favourite referees as he is a bit fussy and tends to favour the big sides, however in fairness he did OK today.