Key Matchups That Will Shape Swansea's Clash with Tottenham Hotspur
With Spurs sitting in sixth, the North Londoners will be looking for a big away win to make up points on their rivals for their season's ultimate goal of a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League.
Meanwhile, Swansea will be hoping for a positive result to put a bit more space between them and the relegation spots, which loom just three points below the Welsh side, despite their place at 13th in the table.
While Tottenham picked up a 1-0 victory in the earlier meeting between these two sides, quite a lot has changed at White Hart Lane since that afternoon in August.
Since the firing of manager Andre Villas-Boas last month, Spurs have found a consistent attacking threat under new manager Tim Sherwood after an anemic 15 goals in their first 16 matches.
As one of the clubs that have altered their approach so much, it is hard to look back on the first match between these two for a clue for what to expect on the pitch Sunday.
So what will be the key matchups in this important encounter?
Here are the tactical battles that will shape Sunday's match between Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Aaron Lennon vs. Ben Davies
One of the best battles of Sunday's match will be fought down the right flank of Tottenham's attack.
Since Aaron Lennon returned from his latest injury a few weeks ago, the English winger has been in fine form. In his three Premier League matches since then, Lennon has scored a goal against Stoke, put in a man-of-the-match performance against Manchester United and recorded an assist against Crystal Palace.
On the other side, the 20-year-old Ben Davies has been a fixture for Swansea at left-back since his teammate and countryman Neil Taylor suffered an injury at the start of last season. In the course of that time, Davies became the youngest Swan to ever score in the Premier League and excited many with his great potential.
This encounter should prove to be a tough test for the young defender, as Spurs will look to use Lennon as the focal point of their counter-attacks.
Jonjo Shelvey vs. Tottenham Midfield
Since Tim Sherwood's appointment as manager, Tottenham have been more content to concede possession, allowing their opponents the lion's share of possession in both of their away Premier League matches in order to take advantage of the counter-attack.
With Swansea's penchant for controlling possession, as they have won the possession battle in each of their Premier League matches this season, one would expect Spurs to once again concede possession and look to hit on the counter.
As a result, the Swans will hope that Jonjo Shelvey will be able to boss the midfield, providing a threat in behind striker Wilfried Bony while also controlling the play and not allowing the athletic Spurs midfielders to get out on the counter.
While there will still be lines of Swansea defense to deal with any Tottenham attacks, Swansea will be relying on Shelvey to render them moot.
In this case, the best defense may really be a good attack.
Andros Townsend and Michel Vorm vs. Injury
After a hot start to his Premier League season, Tottenham winger Andros Townsend has cooled off considerably over the past few months. What's more, the Englishman has been injured for the bulk of the club's rejuvenation under manager Tim Sherwood.
However, Townsend has recovered from injury and put in an impressive performance for Spurs' youth side in the midweek, bagging a goal and an assist.
On the other side, Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm has missed the club's past five Premier League matches with a knee injury. As a result, the club have conceded nine goals in those matches, a considerably higher rate than the 21 goals in 16 matches prior to the injury.
It's quite understandable for Swans fans to be delighted with the reports that Vorm will be ready for Sunday's match (via Sky Sports).
Each of these two players could be a key addition to their respective club, but that depends on how well they return from injury.
Wilfried Bony vs. Tottenham's Back Line
When the 25-year-old Wilfried Bony moved to Swansea City in the summer, there were high hopes for the new striker at his new club.
After a fairly pedestrian first few months at the club, the striker has come good over the past few weeks, scoring twice against Manchester City in a league loss and famously scoring at the death to give the Swans their first ever win at Old Trafford and dump Manchester United out of the FA Cup.
Meanwhile, Spurs' back-line has not been very impressive over the past few months. While they started the season quite well, a few injuries in the back led to some terrible performances, especially in 6-0 and 5-0 losses to Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively.
The firing of manager Andre Villas-Boas did curb these bad results for the moment, but the side has still looked vulnerable at the back.
Attempting to cope with Bony's power and ability to get free in the box will be a big test for this Spurs back four.
Roberto Soldado vs. Himself and the Goal
In the last matchup between these two sides, Roberto Soldado scored the winner from the penalty spot to continue his perfect start at Tottenham.
The Spanish striker has been utterly disappointing since then, though, scoring just one goal from open play throughout the entire season.
It's not as though Soldado is not creating chances, either; instead, he has frustrated the White Hart Lane faithful by missing relatively easy chances time and time again.
With the departure of Jermain Defoe, Spurs will need Soldado to rediscover the form he had at Valencia in order to reach their goals.
A goal Sunday would provide a good start.
With these key matchups, Sunday's match at the Liberty Stadium should be an interesting battle between two clubs that need a positive result.
Are there any tactical battles that aren't listed or important points that are missing? Let us know in the comments section below.
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