Coming off last weekend's unbelievable display against City, which I didn’t write about as it would have been 12,000 characters of “AAHHH!!!!” (I was really just out of the country), Spurs head to the Liberty Stadium in search of a continued run of form and 3 points, with the right results this weekend Tottenham could see themselves 3rd in the Premier League table, as we are maintaining the longest current unbeaten run in the league. Our XI seemed attack minded and fluid, with a solid defensive grounding - our preferred partnership of Jan & Toby with Dier shielding - and a threat through the flanks with Davies and Walker looking to get forward.
Early on we maintained the bulk of possession with a sense of urgency in our play. While we were looking to get forward, it seemed the ball wasn’t moving as quickly as we would like and our momentum was often disrupted. Dier’s shielding of the backline and his read on the game were on form which allowed our front 4 pkus Alli to really get forward. Although our chances were lacking, it appeared that we were coming out of the gates looking to deliver another shellacking (great word). Swansea were pressing hard which left a lot of space exposed along the flanks for our fullbacks, however the lack of structure from our front four meant 6-7 of our own players were congested in the middle. Swansea utilized this space to send a ball wide to Montero, who Walker was unable to close down due to the fact that he was 50 yards infield for some unknown reason, leaving Montero time on the ball to pick out an unmarked Ayew who made no mistake heading home to give Swansea a 1-0 lead on their first real attack of the game. Lloris had no chance as Ayew was not marked by Vertonghen or Davies, and left all alone to place the ball as he wished.
On the day we could end up in 3rd, we allow a very sloppy goal, which is the most Spursy thing imaginable I’d say. Swansea’s first goal from open-play in over a month and we are now left chasing the game. Our possession became more rushed, and our Swansea who were barely in it before their goal began to come alive. Kane drops deep as he’s hungry for the ball to end his poor form, which leaves Lamela as an isolated pseudo-striker. Eriksen, Chadli, Lamela & Alli are all switching positions and we are unable to maintain any sort of structured formation, which leads to mistakes. It doesn’t help that the referee’s kit looks like an off-brand Spurs kit, which had even our own players fooled as they apparently try passing to him a few times. Alli and Dier continued to maintain their form as the best central midfield pairing in London (the league? the world?) which leads Swansea to the brilliant conclusion of “lets just ignore them and play every ball wide”. As such, Swansea sent every single ball immediately to Montero who engages in an epic battle of fate with Walker following their goal. Swansea begin to collapse in on us centrally, throwing every man behind the ball, and stop us from building on the attack. Alli continues to leave Swansea players looking like senior citizens throughout the match while he just dances around them with ease. What are they? Luka Modric? Finally in the 27th minute his magical feet win us a free-kick and Christian “Mother******” Eriksen sends a masterful set piece over the wall and past Fabianski, who was left standing still (literally) with his jaw on the floor (figuratively). Thirty seconds later and Eriksen is back at it again when he splits their defense but unfortunately pulls a shot just wide. Following this free-kick goal Christian really woke up (not even going to touch this pun) and pulls the game right back in our favor.
What looked to be a frustrating night is now a fresh chance to win this game. The travelling supporters are belting out “Oh When The Spurs”, or so I’m told...I’m deaf, and the Lilywhites who are actually playing in blue began to pick up the pace and go for it again. Remember when I said conceding earlier was the Spursiest thing we could do? I misspoke. We give away a corner, and a completely unpressured Harry Kane standing on the near post shanks the ball in to our own net. The Ghost of Roberto Soldado looming over his head summarizing the bulk of his 2015-16 season with a disastrous unforced own goal. We’re left chasing the game again and I shed a single tear out of my left eye. As our resident stat man tells me 29% of our goals conceded this season have been own-goals, which is just not a good statistic to have especially when our renovated backline (find me a picture of Poch with some tools and a hardhat) has been superb for the bulk of the season. Lamela wins a freekick and Eriksen nearly repeats the same feat, forcing a fantastic save from Fabianski. Swansea begin to commit men forward, and we counter with urgency, leaving a sense that there are more goals left in this game. Those goals do not however come in the first half as Swansea players begin to just foul us - Montero literally slapped Lamela and even hacked at his heels at one point which awards him our coveted “Prick of the Game” award - and we are unable to convert any major chances. Alli’s nutmeg counter rises again throughout the match and while we don’t score again, he claims a few more scalps to put on his mantle next to Modric and Kroos. Our tactics throughout the first half seem to be something like “collapse in the middle, don’t really do anything” which was entertaining to watch as our team has some real skill in it, but frustrating too due to the lack of space for us to create chances. We congested ourselves in the middle, when we really needed to stretch their backline. Someone like Townsend or N’Jie would be much needed, and as they were both on the bench it wouldn’t be a bad bet to wager they would be coming on at some point.
The second half is marked by chances left and right, the game opens up even more and turns into one of the most open and nervy games I’ve seen this season. Swansea attacks, we counter, they counter, and we attack again. Pochettino brings Townsend on for Lamela, which as we guessed earlier, stretched Swansea’s defense and allowed us more sting in the counter by exploiting the wide space they are allotting us. However, Swansea still looked the more likely team to score having missed some good chances (Gomis in particular). We’re left chasing the game for a good portion and our attacks look desperate. Several times we resort to lob balls and it appears we have no cohesion. While our midfield pairing is solid both in terms of their defensive display and their ability to distribute the ball, our only real attacking threat has been Eriksen throughout the match. Chadli makes way for N’Jie and Alli wins another free kick in a very similar position as previously. Christian Eriksen steps up again and decimates Fabianski’s existence with another goal. A masterful free-kick sees Fabianski concede a second goal and bring us level. Eriksen is dragging us through this match by the collar. It’s easy to forget that he is only 23, as he has been around forever and looks like a veteran of 30+ years. There needs to be some sort of religious following for him. Christianism maybe? Eriksenianity? He consistently is causing Swansea issues every time he touches the ball and with N’Jie & Townsend now on the pitch our counter attack has a real bite to it. However, with Kane too frightened to shoot our attacks seem to fizzle out.
Swansea continue to attack, maintaining chances and pressure, but our defense is up to the challenge. Unfortunately, Dier concedes a yellow card that means he now has 5 this season and will miss the Liverpool clash. My dad is a Liverpool fan which means we need to beat them and not just that but we need to embarrass them and spit on the grave of Steven Gerrard. Oh, my fact checkers tell me he’s not dead but come on look at this picture and ell me this man has any life left in him.
Dembele comes off for Kane who was playing in the hole behind N’Jie weirdly enough and our counter attack begins to fire on all cylinders. We’re bossing the flanks, and sending balls up with pace to N’Jie who just leaves their back four in his wake, as he has no trouble collecting any pass we send at him. This kid’s pace is unbelievable. However, we are really unable to do much of anything as our counter can be summarised by Townsend ignoring an open Alli and N’Jie to fire a pass-of-a-shot right at Fabianski on the counter. However, we still came alive during the second half and looked the more likely to score, despite our chances not coming off. At the final breath Lloris saves the goddamn day by using his mutant powers to save a header and push it off the crossbar. No more clear cut chances come and the match ends 2-2.
We collect the point and remain unbeaten (7 games) and despite a good performance, are left frustrated on the road in Wales. We sit 3 points off second and 5 points off first, which is pretty good, but ultimately disappointing as we could have been in the top 4 right now, our ultimate goal at the end of the season. Poch’s tactical adjustments were once again spot-on, but the lack of a firing striker and our jumbling of chances left us accepting the tie. We move on next week to play Liverpool [shakes fist at the sky] at home where we will hopefully regain our 3-point form and piss off my dad* in the process. Ultimately, it’s hard to find a negative in our performances of late, as every major player (bar Fazio) has really come into the team ready to contribute and fight for the points. While our performances aren’t always the masterclass we saw against City, it's clear that this new season Spurs is just that...a new Spurs. The future's looking bright for us and while we still have some frustrations, like the draw today, there is a new hope around the fanbase. Onwards to next week. COYS!
*I love my dad, dont worry