Friday, December 30, 2011

Tottenham at Swansea - Preview

Spurs go to Swansea for a League game for the first time since October, 1982.  The last time that Tottenham came away with a win in a competitive match was in the first season after the Second World War in September, 1946.

Spurs go to the Liberty Stadium for the first time, all other games in Swansea having been played at the club's former Vetch Field ground which they vacated in 2005.  Swansea won promotion last season by defeating Reading in the play-off Final at Wembley.

They have received credit for their style of play under manager, Brendan Rodgers, and have one of the best home records in this season's Premier League, bettered by only the top five clubs.  They are in 14th position in the League with 19 points, having gained 16 points from their nine home matches.  They have suffered only one defeat by the only goal to Manchester United and were unfortunate to miss the opportunity of a late equaliser.  At home they have conceded only three goals, the meanest home defence in the League, so Spurs will have to be at their attacking best to break through a defence which has had to cope with a number of lengthy absences through injury.

Steven Caulker who is on loan from Tottenham will be missing as he is ineligible, having just returned following a time of injury.  His time with Swansea had been beneficial to him as he has been a regular member of the team at the centre of their defence and has been gaining good reviews as he builds up his Premier League experience, having stepped up from Championship football last year.  Swansea have also been without their captain, Alan Tate, with a broken leg but have coped with the necessary re-organisation.  One of their stars has been Dutch goalkeeper, Michel Vorm, whom they signed from FC Utrecht during August - he made his debut in Swansea's first game in the Premier League at Manchester City.  He kept the City strike force at bay for almost an hour with an exceptional performance and has grown in stature and confidence since that match.

Danny Graham has scored six League goals, two ahead of Scott Sinclair who scored a hat-trick in the play-off final to secure Swansea's Premier League place.  The former Chelsea player joined Swansea in July, 2010.  A year earlier, Nathan Dyer, a winger, another product of the Southampton Academy joined Swansea and he has scored two goals this season, the same as Joe Allen the Welsh international midfielder.

Two former Tottenham players who will be anxious to make an impression are Mark Gower and Wayne Routledge.  Gower came through the Spurs youth system but didn't make it into the first team before moving on to Barnet.   He spent five seasons with Southend United before joining Swansea in 2008 and helped them to promotion last season.  Routledge joined Spurs from Crystal Palace in the summer of 2005 but only made five League appearances for the club.  An early injury hindered his progress with Spurs and he had periods on loan with Portsmouth and Fulham before joining Aston Villa in January, 2008.

Swansea's 2011 - 12 Home Record:
Swansea's last home match ended in a 1 - 1 draw with QPR, their goal being scored by Danny Graham.  That goal in last Tuesday's match was only the third goal they have conceded at home this season.

After their tough introduction to the Premier League, Swansea played out two scoreless draws at home to Wigan and Sunderland.  They then won three home games in a row against WBA (3 - 0), Stoke (2 - 0) and Bolton (3 - 1).  Following the close defeat to United, they drew 0 - 0 with Aston Villa and then defeated Fulham (2 - 0).  The win over Fulham being their only win in their last eight matches as their early season form has taken a dip.

Spurs' League Record at Swansea

P  13  W  4  D  3  L  6  For  14  Ag  18

Spurs and Swansea have only met in the top Division on two occasions, in 1981 - 82 and 1982 - 83 in the 1st Division when Swansea won both of their home matches.  In September, 1982 Glenn Hoddle scored a penalty for Spurs as they lost 1 - 2 and the following year Swansea won 2 - 0.

Prior to those matches, the clubs met in the 2nd Division in the years from 1928 until Spurs won promotion in 1950.  Spurs first match at the Vetch Field ended in a 4 - 0 defeat but the following year in November, 1929 they won 1 - 0, with Ted Harper scoring the goal. The following season Harper scored again as Spurs triumphed 2 - 1, Jimmy Smailes scoring the second goal.  

In March, 1932 they earned a point from a 1 - 1 draw when Tom Evans scored with a penalty.  Spurs' good form in Wales continued in March, 1933 with a 2 - 0 success provided by goals from Les Howe and Willie Evans.

That was the end of their success until 1946 when two goals from Les Bennett gave Spurs another 2 - 0 win.  Even in their promotion year of 1949 - 50 the Spurs 'Push and Run' side failed to take any points from Swansea, losing 0 - 1 in April, 1950.

Having triumphed in the east (at Norwich) last Tuesday, Spurs will need to show the same resilient form which has stood them in good stead for most of this season as they travel west to Wales for their final game of 2011.  Gareth Bale will want to make an impression as he returns to his homeland but may not necessarily receive a warm welcome from the home fans, especially as he was born in Cardiff.  

The miserly Swansea defence will be doing their utmost to prevent Spurs getting into their free-flowing style of play so the visitors will be able to take no liberties with Swansea on their first match at the Liberty Stadium.


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