Everton's victory on Saturday bumped Tottenham Hotspur out of the precious top four, but they have an opportunity to jump back ahead of the Toffees with a win over Swansea on Sunday. It isn't Christmas yet and all eyes are on the table. It is going to be a long 2013.
Helping Spurs' chase for fourth on Sunday will be the returns of Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Scott Parker, both of whom are set to return to the team against the Swans, albeit most likely in a substitutes roles. Michael Dawson also looks like a good bet to play, giving Andre Villas-Boas another option next to Steven Caulker in the center of defense.
On the flip side is the hamstring injury to Gareth Bale, which will likely keep him sidelined. That means another match with two strikers and Clint Dempsey on the left, which means that, once again, Spurs will be asking a lot of Jan Vertonghen on the left. Tottenham will also ask a lot of Sandro and Moussa Dembele, who will be out-numbered in the center by Ki Sun-Yueng, Jonathan de Guzman and Michu, but they ask an extraordinary amount of the two even when they playing on even terms so this won't be out of the norm.
The question for Spurs is still whether they can play a full 90 minutes. Late match collapses have become commonplace at Tottenham and cost them three points last weekend at Goodison Park. If they can't sort it out, it will cost them a chance at fourth place. There is no easy fix -- if there was then Villas-Boas would have taken care of it by now considering it was part of what doomed him at Chelsea -- but Swansea are unlikely to show any mercy.
The Swans are flying high after advancing to the League Cup semifinals in midweek action, the club's first cup semifinal in nearly 50 years, and are just a couple weeks removed from a win over Arsenal. The problem is those two wonderful wins sandwiched a home loss to Norwich, which is a pretty good summation of Swansea's season.
A year ago, the consensus was that Spurs had two world class players. One, Luka Modric, was sold to Real Madrid this summer and the other, Bale, is out through injury. That leaves them without a top notch player. Can their collection of good ones take care of business and move back into fourth? Probably not for 90 minutes, but 70 minutes, a near heart attack and some fortune will suffice.