Swansea vs. Tottenham Hotspur preview: Resume panicking

Michael Regan

The panic train heads to Wales.

PANIC!

The international break is over, and so is Tottenham Hotspur's one-week time of peace, free of panic, hand-wringing and self-loathing. Back is the sit under your table, pull your knees to your chest and hide normalcy of the Spurs stretch run.

We've done this for four years, people. You should be used to it by now.

Spurs resume their annual panic on Saturday when they head to Wales for a clash against Swansea. Having lost four straight -- two in league, two in cups -- since downing Arsenal on March 3, Tottenham are flirting with another late season meltdown. Long gone is their 12-match unbeaten streak and their win over the Gunners. Now the ghosts of last year are haunting the team, and asking Andre Villas-Boas if he really has re-made the team into something bigger, better and stronger than what Harry Redknapp left him.

That bigger part will take on a new meaning at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, where Spurs will have to be literally big to deal with the Swans on set pieces. Swansea has scored 18 goals on set pieces this season, tops in the Premer League. With Michael Dawson fit again, and likely joined by Jan Verthonghen in the center of defense, Spurs should be able to cope with the Swans on dead balls, but should and will take on two very different meanings this time of year.

But while Spurs deal with set pieces at the back, they need to find a non-Gareth Bale source of goals and there is an open place in the attack. Obviously, Bale will start, as will a recently fit Aaron Lennon, while Emmanuel Adebayor is also a good bet to start. But Villas-Boas can opt for Jermain Defoe to partner Adebayor or he could turn to one of three choices to play underneath the striker.

Lewis Holtby is probably the best player available to him, but Gylfi Sigurdsson has been in the best form and Villas-Boas has given Dempsey chance after chance, even when he hasn't deserved it, so why not again now? Leon Britton will make things difficult on whoever Villas-Boas chooses and with the way Swansea close down space there, Holtby might be the best choice because of how quickly he moves the ball, but Spurs don't have a clear choice there seven months into the season.

Whoever starts in the attack, and however Spurs deal with Swansea's set pieces, one thing is clear -- they need results. The annual Tottenham panic is here, and it will only get worse.

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