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Tottenham Hotspur Vs. Swansea City, Preview: Suddenly Third Is In Play

Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow /barfs
Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow /barfs

Since their North London Derby victory, Arsenal had been excellent until Saturday. Much unlike the choking, bottling Arsenal that we watched for basically the entire season until that game, they have looked like a very confident team, incisive in attack and capable of mounting comebacks if they concede early. Tottenham haven't won in the Premier League since the game before the derby, against Newcastle United. Third place looked out of reach as of a week ago.

Over their last two games, Tottenham have drawn at Stamford Bridge and defeated Bolton Wanderers, playing great football on both occasions. On Saturday, Arsenal inexplicably lost to Queens Park Rangers. Third place is within reach. If Tottenham fail to win, Chelsea are right back in the race for fourth. Tottenham's game against Swansea City on Sunday is huge.

In games against direct rivals for 3-4th positions this season, Tottenham has been excellent except for in their loss at the Emirates. They've risen to the occasion over and over. Before this stage of the season, that is what big games are. Derbies and games against direct rivals. In the Premier League's 31st week, every game is big. There is little margin for error and little time to come back. Tottenham need three points on Sunday.

Last time they played Swansea, they were lucky to get one. The Swans were much better than Spurs, who scored first against the run of play. The equalizer looked inevitable for quite some time, but it didn't come until the 84th minute, when Scott Sinclair scored in heartbreaking fashion. It was a just equalizer; Spurs didn't deserve all three points from that game at the Liberty Stadium.

But, that was at the Liberty Stadium. Tenth-placed Swansea are 6-6-3 at home, but 4-3-8 away. Eight away losses, compared to just three at home. That's an absolutely massive difference. Even though Swansea outplayed Spurs in their last meeting, Spurs are the favorites and should be expected to be on the front foot for most of the match.

For the first time in a long time, everyone who could possibly be healthy is healthy for Tottenham. There's a good chance that Aaron Lennon will return to the starting XI on the right wing, which would keep Harry Redknapp from pulling any shenanigans. Luka Modric needs to be in the middle and Gareth Bale needs to be on the left. This really can't be overstated at all. There's some doubt about whether Ledley King will slot right back into the team after playing mid-week, but he's as fit as he can be.

Swansea are also fairly injury-free. The only serious selection dilemma that Brendan Rodgers has is between Wayne Routledge and Scott Sinclair. The rest of his team more or less picks itself. The midfield three of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Joe Allen and Leon Britton is one of the best in the Premier League, while Danny Graham is a lethal finisher and Scott Sinclar has blistering pace. Swansea's back line is questionable, but the man behind them, Michel Vorm, is one of the Premier League's best.

You can catch this one on your TV machine wherever you live. It's on FOX Soccer Channel in the USA in English and on FOX Deportes in Spanish. You can watch on Sportsnet World in Canuck land and on Sky Sports 1 in the UK. God knows where our readers come from, so I might as well throw in that you can catch it on SuperSport in most of Africa and on Abu Dhabi Sports Channel in most of the Middle East and in North Africa. It's on FOX Sports Premium in Latin America. Kickoff is at 11:00 a.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. local time from White Hart Lane.