Tottenham Club Focus – Spurs back as high pressing game brings Swans down

Tottenham Hotspur appeared to roll the clock back to earlier in the season as goals from Emmanuel Adebayor [2] and Rafael van der Vaart saw Spurs beat Swansea City 3-1 in a good natured but intriguing match at White Hart Lane. The result saw Spurs move level on points with North London rivals Arsenal – who lost to Q.P.R on Saturday. Tottenham, are behind Arsenal on goal difference but should be encouraged by perhaps having the easier run in to the end of the season.

Arguably this was a performance by Spurs that saw them getting back to their best; a performance against a Swansea side that has won many admirers with their style of football, and that has seen them sit comfortably in mid table and collect some notable scalps. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp knew how important the match was. A win was needed to continue to the recovery started against Stoke and Chelsea and continued against Bolton in the FA Cup and maintain the pressure on Arsenal.

Redknapp sent out the same starting line-up for Spurs that drew 1-1 at the Liberty Stadium on New Year’s Eve; at The Lane though, Redknapp changed the formation and tactics. At the Liberty Stadium, Spurs set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, yesterday the formation was 4-3-3 [moving to a 4-5-1 if needed]. Luka Modric was given to license to roam, Gareth Bale returned to staying mainly on the left. However, the key difference was the intensity of Spurs pressing game – particularly with Scott Parker and Sandro in midfield. Swansea given time and space can maintain possession and pass a team off the pitch.

Spurs worked from front to back, with Adebayor, van der Vaart and Bale all closing down defenders, Sandro and Parker closing down the Swansea midfield, harrying them into mistakes or passing under pressure. During the match [and particularly the first half] Swansea found it difficult to settle as Spurs, as a team, won 29 tackles and made 30 interceptions in closing Swansea down. In doing so Spurs were winning the ball high up the pitch, the ball being passed to Bale who gave Angel Rangel at full back a torrid time throughout. This had led to the opening goal in the 19th minute after Modric released Bale on the left whose cross rebounded out from the defence for van der Vaart to coolly slot home, Spurs leading 1-0 at the half.

Swansea manager, Rodgers made a slight change at half time. Rangel dropping deep off of Bale and allowing winger Wayne Routledge to challenge the Welsh flyer first. This worked initially as did an upping of the tempo which saw Swansea come back into the match, equalizing through Gylfi Sigurdsson. However, this only seemed to galvanize Spurs, who upped their tempo and returned to the pressing game and started to take control of the match. In the 70th minute, Aaron Lennon made a welcome return to action in place of Sandro – Spurs reverting to the 4-4-1-1 formation that was the foundation of their successful earlier run. In the 73rd minute Spurs Dutch master delivered a perfect corner for Adebayor to head home and put Spurs in front. Both sides continue to push but the game was settled in the 86th minute when Adebayor headed home again, this time from a Lennon cross.

Spurs beat a very good Swansea team. In doing so Tottenham appeared to get the formation and tactics right – working hard all over the pitch in pressing Swansea and closing them down. Spurs look to be back on track. For Swansea’s manager Brendan Rodgers, strongly rumoured to be in the running for the Spurs hot seat should Redknapp leave, Spurs’ fans will be interested to see how he and his team react to this result, coupled with last week’s defeat to Everton.

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