Tottenham Club Focus - Formation the key to mute Swans
Sunday sees arguably two of the best footballing sides in the Premier League take on each other at White Hart Lane when Tottenham Hotspur entertain Swansea City. The Swans, proudly sitting in mid table and only three points off of Liverpool in seventh place, will be looking to continue their impressive season that has seen them unbeaten in their last five matches against top seven teams. Spurs meanwhile, will be looking for three points to maintain the challenge for third place and build on good performances against Bolton and Chelsea. Both teams have high pass accuracy and possession figures [The Welsh side just shading the statistics] and prefer to play the ball on the floor. The main difference is perhaps that Spurs move the ball quicker to Swansea’s more often patient build up.
Swansea are likely to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation [having done so 26 times in the league to date], though there are likely to be some changes. Spurs loanee Steven Caulker is ineligible and may be replaced by Gary Monk whilst Nathan Dyer may come back in for Wayne Routledge on the right. Manager Brendan Rodgers should have the rest of regular first team starters available for selection, including the impressive Gylfi Sigurdsson who has scored five goals in The Swans last four away games [Swansea having won four of their last six away from The Liberty Stadium].
For Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, perhaps the biggest decision will be which formation to use. With Aaron Lennon fit again and available for selection, there may be a temptation to include the right winger and revert to a 4-4-2 formation - especially with Swansea’s left midfielder Scott Sinclair less defensively minded.
Possibly this should be one temptation best avoided. Spurs have played well in their last two matches without employing this formation. Swansea in their customary 4-2-3-1 have played eight times in the league against a team using 4-4-2 and only lost twice – to Manchester United and Norwich. In a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1, Spurs’ midfield could be out passed by greater Swansea numbers. There may be an argument to Spurs employing a variant on the 4-3-3 formation, essentially a 4-1-2-3.
This may allow Kyle Walker and Benoit Assou-Ekoto to pick up the Swansea wide players and a holding midfielder such as Sandro to take the dangerous Sigurdsson, freeing the Spurs’ centre backs to pick up Danny Graham. This should also give Spurs freedom to press higher up the pitch with Scott Parker or Jake Livermore alongside Luka Modric pushing on to Leon Britton and Joe Allen. As Swansea like to keep possession in their own half, if Spurs can pressure here then the ball can be quickly released to Gareth Bale, Emmanuel Adebayor or Rafael van der Vaart to counter attack. This high press tactic may also prevent the Swans goalkeeper, Michel Vorm, from playing the ball out to build from the back as his preference. If forced to kick long, Swansea, with an aerial duel success that is one of the lowest in the league, may invariably give up possession, allowing Spurs to recover possession and keep the momentum and pressure on Swansea.
Swansea are an excellent passing team and have delighted many with their style of play and victories over the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City. However, Tottenham are excellent at the possession and passing game too, and with the right formation can disrupt Swansea. Consequently Spurs, with the class players in the team have the capability to take advantage and claim all three points.
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