As Harry Redknapp said, these are the kinds of games we have to win. Swansea City are one of the best promoted sides in recent memory, and they're tough to beat at home. The Liberty Stadium is quickly becoming one of the hardest places in England to play, partially because of the crowd and partially because of the way Swansea play. They're a great balance between attacking and pragmatic football. They can keep the ball and they can counter down the wings. Tottenham Hotspur are the more talented side, but Swansea can win in multiple ways.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Walker are going to be more key in this game than they've been in recent weeks. Though much of the focus on Swansea's success has been on the great play of central midfielders Joe Allen and Leon Britton, the pace of the wingers is just as important. Kieran Dyer and Scott Sinclair have made trouble for players just as good as Walker and BAE. Wayne Routledge could play ahead of Dyer, for reasons I can't explain.
Unsurprisingly, Ledley King is not being allowed to play a second game in quick succession. He may or may not be available in a few days to play West Brom. I'm very confident in the Younes Kaboul - William Gallas pairing and willing to let King rest until the Everton game, personally. Aaron Lennon, Tom Huddlestone and Michael Dawson are still out.
Sebastien Bassong, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe are all questionable for the game. Obviously, that last one is most important. Bassong is an emergency CB/LB if someone gets injured and Pav is not a very good player. Defoe has been a fantastic impact sub for Tottenham so far this season and is back to his old goal-scoring form. It's going to be important that he's healthy going forward for obvious reasons. Emmanuel Adebayor will eventually have a fitness issue, and we'll eventually be in serious need of a goal in the final 15 minutes of a game.
Expect, once again, to see the "Just f--kin run around a bit" 4-3-3/4-3-2-1 hybrid. If you haven't caught the last two games and/or our discussions on the site, it works like this. Sandro and Scott Parker are obviously deep-ish central midfielders, while Adebayor is obviously a center forward. Luka Modric is asked to play his preferred playmaking role. Gareth Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart are told to do whatever they damn well please. This results in a team that looks like a fluid hybrid between a 4-3-3 and a Christmas tree, with both VDV and Weezus drifting in and out. Bale usually plays more wide, while VDV comes inside more.
This one should be fun for the neutral. A couple of balanced 4-3-3 setups with technically adept midfielders, playing in a great environment. For us, it'll be a bit nerve-wracking until we score. I called a 1-0 where we don't look terribly threatened in the prediction league. Most of my co-writers are more confident. I don't blame them, we look brilliant at the moment.
Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Game Date/Time: Saturday, December 31, 10:00 a.m. ET, 3:00 p.m. local
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales
TV: None in the USA, UK or Canada. Happy New Year, you jerks!