What an emotionally draining week for Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs played four matches in a ten-day stretch that saw them draw West Ham, get bounced from the Europa League by Fiorentina, and lose the League Cup final to a superior Chelsea team at Wembley. And now the players don't even get a chance to catch their collective breaths before hosting Swansea City in another crucial EPL match on Wednesday evening.
Swansea have won their last two league matches, including a home victory over Manchester United, and are currently eighth in the table, just four behind Spurs. Swansea aren't a threat for top four, but a top six finish is certainly possible for Garry Monk's Swans, and they'll be looking to steal three quick points from a tired Spurs team.
It's also something of a homecoming for a few Swansea players: this will be the first match at White Hart Lane for midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, whom Spurs sold this summer, and right back Kyle Naughton, sold this January. Tom Carroll is on loan at Swansea this season, but won't play on Wednesday. Ben Davies made the opposite trip, joining Spurs from Swansea this summer. Both Naughton and Sigurdsson are expected to start against their former club.
Swansea have weaponry in Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-yueng, and Nathan Dyer but they're still trying to figure out how to fill the Wilfried Bony-sized hole in their strike-force. Bafetimbi Gomis is doing his best, scoring five goals since his ascent to the starting job, but he has not nearly been the offensive juggernaut that Bony was.
For Spurs, this is an obvious trap game. Tired and suffering through a rotten run of form, they now have to play their fifth game in two weeks, and somehow figure out how to get three points to avoid falling out of the race for fourth altogether. Let's not forget that it took an 89th minute Christian Eriksen goal in the rain for Spurs to escape with a 2-1 victory in Wales. This match could be even tougher.
In terms of lineups, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen, and Harry Kane rested for this match. Vertonghen in particular played over 80% of Spurs' minutes this season, and in the majority of the past four matches. Vlad Chiriches might be favored over Kyle Walker at right back for the same reason. With Spurs heading to Loftus Road to face relegation-threatened QPR on Saturday, rotation is clearly needed. On the other hand, Swansea is a team that Spurs need to beat in order to build up momentum for the final stretch of league matches, and tiredness aside this is very nearly a must win for them.
It's been difficult to predict Mauricio Pochettino's lineups this season, but here's my best guess:
No matter who plays, this is an opportunity for Spurs to kick on and start things anew. They're through the worst of their schedule and have two winnable games upcoming. Six points will do wonders for tired legs and wounded confidences.