Breaking Down the Key Matchups from Tottenham's 3-1 Win over Swansea
Tottenham picked up a vital three points on Sunday, dispatching a below par Swansea City 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
The win brought Spurs to fifth (at least before Everton's match Monday) and level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool. On the flip side, Swansea stayed at 15th in the table, just three points ahead of the relegation spots.
Swansea and Tottenham both approached the match with a predictable game plan, but circumstance led to some intriguing battles throughout the field.
While it may not have been a vintage Premier League clash, the way in which this encounter played out was certainly interesting, especially for those looking for a glimpse into Spurs' future under new manager Tim Sherwood.
Here's a breakdown of the key matchups in Sunday's battle between Tottenham and Swansea and what Spurs can take from them going forward.
Aaron Lennon vs. Ben Davies
With how Tottenham have been using the wings lately, it was obvious that Swansea would need a good performance from young left-back Ben Davies. Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker made sure that did not come to pass.
The two Spurs speedsters combined well down the right flank, causing Davies trouble all day and providing some important outlets when Spurs counter-attacked.
It was yet another fine showing from Aaron Lennon, who remains in the good form he found after returning from injury last month.
It was disappointing for Swansea to see Davies struggle as he did. They can only hope the 20-year-old can use the match as a learning experience and come back stronger for the all-important relegation battle that the Swans seem to be entering.
Jonjo Shelvey vs. Tottenham Midfield
Heading into Sunday's match, it was clear that the teams would have two different approaches that fit well together: the possession and calculated buildup of Swansea versus the quick counter-attack of Tim Sherwood's Tottenham.
With this particular clash of styles, it's clear that the Swans would need a midfielder who could push the ball forward and provide a threat of his own.
Jonjo Shelvey is the obvious choice for such a key contributor for Swansea, and the Englishman came good in the first half.
Shelvey provided a clear path forward for the home team and put a few shots wide before forcing a nice Hugo Lloris save. Going into the dressing room, the Swansea midfielder was an important cog in a Swansea side that have played well and looked slightly unlucky to be 1-0 down.
However, Shelvey was forced to limp off not five minutes into the second half, leaving the Swans with a missing piece.
As a result, the match quickly degenerated into an end-to-end battle, with Tottenham getting more and more chances on the counter.
For Spurs, it was a lucky break that helped them seal the match when they did. Still, the North Londoners will not be too upset about how they dealt with Shelvey while he was on the pitch.
The talk on the injury wire heading into Sunday's match centered around Tottenham's Andros Townsend and Swansea's Michel Vorm.
Townsend, who is an exciting prospect for England heading into the summer's World Cup, seemed likely to return from an injury that had him out for the past few weeks. Spurs fans and England fans alike were hoping to see him make a decent showing and get back to the form he had at the start of the season.
Meanwhile, keeper Michel Vorm has been missing in action for over a month with a damaged knee, casting doubts on his fitness ahead of the Netherlands' World Cup campaign.
However, neither one made an appearance in this match. Instead, it was only Spurs' Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had been out for a few weeks with a calf injury, making his return for a substitute appearance.
While Sigurdsson didn't light the world on fire with his one shot (which was saved easily), it was good to see the Icelander out there and making it back into the first team.
Wilfried Bony vs. Tottenham Back Line
The one area of the match against Swansea with which Tottenham can feel dissatisfied is their ability to deal with Wilfried Bony.
With the Spurs back line showing vulnerability over the past several weeks, the strength of Swan striker Bony was an obvious concern heading into the match.
However, Tottenham were unable to keep Bony off the ball, affording the Ivorian plenty of possession and allowing him a few good opportunities.
While it did take Bony until the match was out of reach at 3-0 to bag a well-taken goal, the ease with which the chance came to the striker underscored how unlucky he was not to have already had one by that point.
Still, it was yet another match without their injured defensive stalwart, Jan Vertonghen, so Spurs should be happy to leave with the three points and no more damage done.
Roberto Soldado vs. Himself
With the sale of striker Jermain Defoe, though, Spurs desperately need Soldado to come good on his price tag over the rest of the season.
Sunday's match seemed like a great opportunity for this to begin, as Tottenham had the potential to create a lot of chances on the counter.
However, despite proclaiming his faith in Soldado, new Spurs manager Tim Sherwood left the Spaniard out of the line-up, instead trying out a 4-2-3-1 with Nacer Chadli on the left wing.
The result of this move seemed good, as Tottenham looked fluid going forward.
Still, the North London club will need Soldado to improve before the season's end in order to reach their goals.
Will this benching be the kick in the pants he needs, or will Soldado lose any shred of confidence he still had?
The result of the match was certainly what Tottenham were looking for heading in, as they picked up a crucial away win and an important three points.
A top four finish seemed like a fading dream when Tim Sherwood took over at White Hart Lane, but the new manager's incredible start to his tenure have Spurs knocking on the door of the top four.
While there were certainly areas in which the side could have still improved, the match provided Sherwood with a new formation to tinker with and surely instilled confidence in this flourishing attack.
With the expectations and pressure surely off these players, this run-in should be a joy for Tottenham supporters.
This is certainly welcomed after the dread felt at the end of the last few seasons.
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