Jan Vertonghen’s second half goal for Tottenham maintained their record of never having lost a home League game against Swansea. Spurs started the match three points ahead of the visitors but knew that defeat would see Swansea move above them. Tottenham now move two points ahead of Everton into fourth place, but behind Chelsea on goal difference.
Tottenham Hotspur 1 Swansea City 0
Team: Lloris; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton; Lennon, Sandro, Dembele (Parker), Dempsey (Sigurdsson); Adebayor (Townsend), Defoe Subs: (unused) Friedel, Caulker, Livermore, Huddlestone
Tottenham made one change to last weekend’s team that lost in the final minutes to Everton with Kyle Naughton starting at left back and Jan Vertonghen moving into central defence with Steven Caulker among the substitutes. Scott Parker also made his first appearance of the season as one of the substitutes.
The match opened with both teams passing crisply and pressing quickly and it was almost ten minutes before the visitors put in a badly misplaced pass. There then followed a passage of play where Spurs’ quick pressing paid dividends enabling them to attack quickly but Swansea defended stoutly with a number of important blocks. Jermain Defoe had a shot easily collected by the goalkeeper and then after Mousa Dembele had played him in had another one blocked. Good play by Dembele found Kyle Walker on the right but Emmanuel Adebayor’s shot from the cross was blocked also. Spurs had had an encouraging five minutes and continued to exert pressure on Swansea but without the reward of a goal. Walker’s free-kick struck the wall, Dembele and Dempsey worked the ball to Defoe but he shot past the post and Dempsey’s header from Lennon’s cross was easily collected by the goalkeeper.
On 24 minutes, Vertonghen played a lovely cross-field pass from the left touchline to Walker tight on the right. Walker’s first time control enabled him to play the ball to Lennon but as he ran into the area he was blocked. Two minutes later, William Gallas was alert to cut out a through ball for Swansea’s leading scorer Michu as they threatened for the first time.
Spurs continued to dominate possession and position as Dempsey had another attempted shot blocked and then Sandro shot weakly. Spurs had eight attempts on goal after the first half an hour. Swansea threatened from the right but Wayne Routledge just failed to get his head to the cross on 31 minutes.
With just over five minutes to the interval Spurs had a good period when the goalkeeper blocked a powerful shot from Walker and then when Adebayor played the ball back into the area Gallas got his head to the ball but couldn’t direct it on goal. Swansea responded on the break and De Guzman put a fierce shot over the bar. Lennon had a weak shot saved after a run infield but then a misunderstanding on the half-way line gifted the ball to Michu. He had a spectacular effort towards goal which went over with Lloris getting back on his line. Vertonghen struck the wall with a free-kick as the half ended.
In the first half both sides cancelled each other out, playing passing football. Spurs dominated possession and chances but Swansea worked hard as a team and defended well in midfield and at the back with vital blocks.
The second half opened at a quicker tempo and Swansea had a real chance to snatch the lead when a cross from Routledge found Dyer but his flicked header went past the back post. Swansea defended patiently, happy to let Spurs pass the ball around at the back and waited for a mistake to allow them to counterattack. The half continued much as the first with Spurs having efforts blocked or Swansea putting in a vital tackle at the right moment. They caught Spurs on the break but Dembele got back to tackle. Adebayor had a run and shot which the goalkeeper pushed out for a corner.
Spurs forward play lacked pace which made it easy for Swansea to recover their defensive positions. Gylfi Sigurdsson replaced Dempsey with twenty minutes to play and then Adebayor went off injured. Andros Townsend came on and brought some pace to the attack but, surprisingly, from the right. Three minutes after coming on, Townsend won a free-kick. Walker played the ball in, it flicked off a defender’s head and fell to Vertonghen who scored with a right foot shot for his first Premier League goal after 75 minutes. Spurs deserved the lead having had 21 attempts on goal with 14 on target compared to 4 by Swansea with none on goal.
Spurs were now into dangerous territory, the last ten minutes when they have conceded goals through the season. Another run by Townsend ended with a foul and Vertonghen’s shot from the free-kick was deflected over. Swansea were now looking for an equaliser and pushed forward but Tottenham defended calmly and with three minutes to play Defoe had a chance to add to the lead when played through but the goalkeeper saved his shot.
On 90 minutes, as the fourth official indicated 5 additional minutes, Andre Villas-Boas was clearly seen urging the players to concentrate and remain focused. Swansea earned a couple of free-kicks and a corner and Spurs did resort to some ‘get it away’ defending but survived the eight minutes, extended due to an injury to Michu as Lloris punched clear from the edge of his area. From the punch, with Michu on the ground, Townsend broke away but the goalkeeper saved his effort on goal. The Swansea players were aggrieved that Spurs hadn’t put the ball out and play was stopped for attention to Michu and while the referee sorted out what had happened. Scott Parker replaced Dembele for the final minutes.
Spurs deservedly took the points and showed that they can win without Gareth Bale. It wasn’t an impressive performance from Tottenham but they held their nerve to keep a clean sheet against a Swansea team who had worked very hard to deny them.