BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 28TH FEBRUARY, 2016
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) SWANSEA CITY 1(1)
Referee:- Mike Jones
Assistants:- A. Garratt & M. McDonough
Fourth official:- Lee Mason
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dier, Eriksen; Son (sub Mason, 75), Alli, Lamela (sub Chadli, 63); Kane (sub Onomah, 84)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Davies; Bentaleb
Booked:- Rose (foul on Ayew); Walker (foul on Ayew)
Swansea (4-2-3-1):- Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams (Capt.), Taylor; Britton (sub Fer, 75), Ki Sung-yeung (sub Gomis, 83); Ayew, Cork, Sigurdsson; Paloschi (sub Barrow, 88)
Subs not used:- Nordfeldt; Naughton, Amat; Routledge
Booked:- Williams (foul on Alli), Paloschi (foul on Walker), Ayew (foul on Rose)
Eyes on the prize.
Spurs' young side showed the character of a side chasing the Premier League title by coming back from a first half goal by relegation battling Swansea with two second half goals. The first was scored by substitute Nacer Chadli before a cracking winner by Danny Rose. What could have been a very bad day and a severe, perhaps fatal, dent to those title aspirations became a most excellent day. It was a great result for Spurs to keep them just two points behind Leicester, who beat Norwich with a late, late goal yesterday.
Arsenal's 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford made it an even better day, keeping the gooners three points and a worse goal difference behind us.
Today's game was arguably going to be the easiest of our next three fixtures, but it turned into a potential nightmare when recent signing Alberto Paloschi put the visitors into a 19th minute lead. Once that goal had been scored, former gooner goalkeeper Fabianski sought to take up as much time as possible over every goal kick or dead ball. In front of him, Swansea formed two banks of four and defended stoutly against the constant barrage of Spurs attacks.
Fabianski was booed often over his time wasting, but would surely be regarded as the man of the match for so many very good saves that prevented Spurs making mincemeat of the Welsh side. Spurs hit 34 shots on goal as opposed to 10 by the visitors, and also dominated possession.
Pochettino rotated his full backs as usual, and played Eriksen at the back of midfield, alongside Dier, but behind Son, Alli and Lamela. Harry Kane played in a flesh-coloured mask, following his broken nose sustained last week against Crystal Palace.
All three former Spurs players in the Swansea squad (Sigurdsson, Routledge and Naughton) were given generous applause when announced.
That deeper midfield role for Eriksen gave him great freedom, and he took part fully in Spurs' attacking moves (of which there were many). Eriksen's energy levels have been very high recently, and he maintained an excellent level of effort and application right up to the end of the 90 minutes, plus the five added minutes.
Fabianski wasn't the only goalkeeper called into action though, as Hugo Lloris had to make an excellent close-range save from Sigurdsson after only two minutes. Swansea had kicked off and played towards the Paxton End. Paloschi got inside Wimmer and almost to the bye-line, cutting the ball back for for Siggy, whose shot was brilliantly pushed over the bar by the well-placed Spurs guardian.
Spurs responded with a move promoted by Alli in the middle, and Kane on the right. The ball was crossed to Danny Rose who passed back to the central area. Lamela wanted a corner when his effort went wide, but a goal kick was awarded.
Kyle Walker had a shot blocked at the near post (possibly a Fabianski save), after Harry Kane had fed him the ball from the centre. Walker became the provider from behind Eriksen, whose low cross/shot was saved at the near post, when it was met by Kane. Eric Dier fed Alli, who chipped a ball over the defence, which Harry Kane instinctively put away, but he had been flagged offside.
Eriksen passed to Alli from that deep midfield position. Alli fed the ball to Son, who went down on the edge of the box, without reward, and the ball ran to Fabianski.
Already, Spurs had been easily the dominant side, but they fell behind to a sucker punch in the 19th minute. Paloschi had won a corner, taken on the right by Sigurdsson. Rangel's shot took a lucky deflection from Cork, and Paloschi must have been close to offside, but he slotted home from 8 yards out for his first goal since being signed by Francesco Guidolin soon after his appointment in January.
Thereafter Swansea sought to desperately defend their lead, getting 10 men behind most Spurs attacks (and there were plenty). They even held back four players on the odd occasion they did win a corner.
Spurs' initial efforts to equalise were led by Walker's crosses, one of which was fed back from beyond the back post by Danny Rose, but cleared from the feet of Son. After a foul on Dele Alli, Eriksen hit a free kick wide when we were hoping he was going to repeat his goal-scoring antics seen at The Liberty Stadium in October. After another Eriksen kick, Eric Dier headed over.
Dier took advantage of a poor clearance by Fabianski, hitting the ball to Walker, whose cross/shot passed the far post. Swans' skipper Ashley Williams took a booking for a foul on Alli, but Lamela hit the free kick straight to Fabianski.
Harry Kane was fouled outside the left side of the Swansea box, and Fabianski made a great save from Eriksen's free kick, diving to his right. Lamela put Alli in a good position in the box, where he went down, but no foul was awarded. A Harry Kane cross from the right was held by the keeper. Son Heung-min was put through and had a one on one situation with Fabianski, but the keeper won the day, diving this time to his left.
A poor goalkeeping clearance by Hugo Lloris gave right back Rangel the chance to advance, and tee up Paloschi, whose shot was blocked.
I thought I spotted referee Mike Jones having "words" with Swansea skipper Williams over the time-wasting of his keeper, but Fabianski never got a card. Eric Dier started and finished a move as we entered added time, receiving Danny Rose's cross and forcing another save with his close range shot.
At half-time we had the joy of a Paul Coyte interview with Spurs legend Alan Gilzean, who urged the fans to urge on the team he still loves.
Spurs carried on where they had left off, bombarding the Swansea area with wave after wave of attacks. Danny Rose got onto an Eriksen ball, but couldn't get a shot in. The ball ran to Kane, but Swansea cleared. Walker, Eriksen and Dier were involved in a move down the right. Dier fed the ball forward to Alli, who tried a first-time shot, but Fabianski saved to his left.
Son won a free kick just outside the box, and Eriksen hit a powerful free kick, which Fabianski could not hold, parrying on his line. The referee indicated that goal-line technology had confirmed it was "no goal". Fabianksi saved well again - this time from a quite thunderous Harry Kane shot from the right edge of the area. Swansea were happy to concede a corner.
Eriksen had a shot go wide of the keeper's left post after 58 minutes, before Lamela was replaced by Chadli, who took up an advanced role beside Kane. Fabianski was soon holding off Chadli when he was put through by Eriksen. Eriksen, Alli and Dier from right to left were in a move hide ended with Dier shooting wide of Fabianski's right post.
Spurs' effort and level of possession was relentless. They had three corners and throws in quick succession. Eriksen hit a shot wide from the right of the box. Then Danny Rose hit a magnificent 30 yard effort which that former Arsenal keeper tipped over the bar. This was surely one of Fabianski's finest goalkeeping performances.
The deadlock for Spurs was finally broken after the corner that resulted from this save. Kyle Walker hit a powerful shot from his right side, and Nacer Chadli managed to divert the ball past the keeper who was so devastated to have been beaten. Maybe he had even been put on a special "Wenger" bonus to try and keep us at bay today.
Guidolin's side wanted all three points for their battle against the drop, and Spurs had to defend a corner before Eriksen broke clear from his own half feeding Kane, who brought another save. Dier was getting forward a lot, and passed to Son, who put Alli clear inside the box. Alli shot and wanted a handball without success.
Son was now replaced by Ryan Mason, who took up the more defensive role, allowing Eriksen even more freedom. It wasn't long before Spurs took a much-awaited, but all too well-deserved lead after an Eriksen corner from the right. Danny Rose picked up the ball just outside the box, carried it inside, then smacked it past Fabianski. The team; the bench, and the home fans were elated!
Swansea now gave Spurs's defence more than a little bit of work, and after a free kick from the right, Lloris saved Paloschi's effort at the near post. Following that, Eriksen led another great break from his own half, before passing to Harry Kane, just ahead of him in the left. Kane's ball to the far post was put into the net by Walker, but offside.
Eriksen tried to tee up Chadli inside the box, but Swansea cleared. Mason had a shot well wide after work by Chadli, substitute Onomah and Eriksen. As the minutes ticked away, Sigurdsson had a good free kick deflected clear for a corner.
There were five minutes of added time to see out, but Spurs did that, and most of the crowd stayed to cheer their boys for a great performance; a great come-back, and a great result.
I really do think our lads have their "eyes on the prize" now. Their determination, and effort today demonstrated the character and desire of a team truly chasing a Premier League title. I thought that today's game might have been the easiest of the next three fixtures, but both West Ham and Arsenal will come at us, surely giving us more space and opportunities than were sometimes on offer today.
I can't wait for Wednesday!
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