Smashmouth Spurs Sink Swansea with Powerful Midfield Performance

Trent ScottAnalyst IIIAugust 25, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25:  Pablo Hernandez of Swansea passes the ball as Nacer Chadli of Spurs closes in during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City at White Hart Lane on August 25, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur could not buy a penalty during the 2012-13 term. To start the 2013-14 campaign, they have nabbed two, converted two and won two matches by 1-0 scorelines.

Those saying “two wrongs don’t make a right” are not Spurs fans after Swansea’s normally prolific passing game was pounded into the ground for 70 minutes at White Hart Lane. Had Tottenham not been denied twice by Michel Vorm before Roberto Soldado’s second match-winning spot-kick, the scoreline would have truly reflected the home side’s play.

Instead, Lilywhite supporters were left baying for the full time whistle for a second straight week after the hosts failed to find a way to punch in a goal from open play. Profligacy in front of the net should not take away from a bruising Tottenham performance, however.

Lining up in Andre Villas-Boas’ 4-3-3 system was the central midfield heavyweight trio of Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Mousa Dembele. Capoue wrecked the Swans’ passing game early and often to the point where the visitors, by halftime, were happy to string four or five passes together, not their usual endless passing schemes.

Paulinho played a solid midfield game, jinking past defenders when he got a chance to run, flicking the ball well to teammates and kinking up play when asked to do so. Dembele was rather anonymous for much of his time, outside of a late burst of activity in the final few minutes of the first half.

His turn to drop two Swansea defenders giving chase may have been his standout moment.

Andros Townsend was the key man of the day for the Spurs. His movement on the ball did not see him race to the endline too often but his dribbling did give Swansea something to be concerned about. He was the man directly involved in both penalty situations, the first being a penalty but awarded maybe a yard outside the box.

The second was quite harsh on Jonjo Shelvey, who must be slightly aggrieved about the decision.

Regardless, Tottenham got the goal they needed and outside a Pablo Hernandez curler and a Chico Flores volley, the defense was stout for 95 percent of the match. Only when Michu roasted Kyle Walker 15 minutes into the contest did the back line ever look shaky.

The only thing missing from Spurs overall performance was, of course, goals. Soldado, for getting the second match-winning goal in two weeks, barely had a sniff of the ball otherwise.

As good as the hosts’ movement was a times, their shooting still primarily comes from way too far out to be an effective attack. Paulinho’s blast at Vorm and Dembele’s weak curler in the first half were the only real chances of note that happened in the box.

It’s for this reason that Willian was so desired by AVB and the reason why the the Mirror suggested that Spurs perceived Chelsea as “scared” of the white half of North London. With a creative hub in the hole, White Hart Lane would likely have been ringing with goals Sunday.

Instead, Tottenham have bludgeoned Swansea from the midfield zone to get the win. There will be concerns about getting Soldado touches and figuring out how to create more chances from the advanced positions.

However, it is a win that shows what kind of a grinding force the Spurs can be just in time for a trip down the Seven Sisters Road….