The big takeaway from last week is that Chelsea F.C. continue to be the worst. Spurs headed to Stamford Bridge, reeling from their Champions League elimination, and left West London with nothing to show for their efforts. If Spurs' support was looking at the clash with Chelsea from a glass half-full perspective, the fixture was an immediate outlet for Tottenham Hotspur to let their frustrations out. They fought hard, and that Eriksen strike was incendiary, but Spurs prolonged their near two month stretch of disapointing football.
Tottenham remain in fifth place with twenty-four points. Manchester United's abysmal start keeps them four points clear of sixth place, yet the loss to Chelsea widened the gap between them and the top four. Spurs are now four points behind fourth placed Arsenal, six behind City and Liverpool, and seven points adrift from first placed Chelsea. They also are no longer undefeated. In a weird way that is liberating to write, as they haven't played like a undefeated side for a good while now.
If Tottenham Hotspur are feeling a bit sorry for themselves, then Swansea City are at their therapist thrice daily. Swansea have just two Premier League wins, three draws, and a staggering eight losses on the year. Save their 5-4 cracker against seventeenth placed Palace, there hasn't been much to cheer about in the south of Wales. That win was their first since the opener at Burnley, yet they did manage to draw both Chelsea and Everton, two top sides.
The most influential player on the Swans is a familiar face — Icelandic international and former Spur Gylfi Sigurdsson. Siggy leads the team in both assists and appearances, and is second in goal production, netting five goals in all competitions thus far. Siggy never really worked out at Tottenham, and maybe White Hart Lane was marginally above his level, but the guy can still play on his day. He is super dangerous off free kicks and has the ability for a wonder strike or threaded through ball on his day. Leroy Fer is lively in attack too, leading the team with six goals, and is a threat going forward.
Outside of this though, the side is thin. As much as I still love Gylfi, if he the biggest threat in the side, then the team isn't all that formidable. Jefferson Montero has been plagued by injuries thus far, though he came on as a late substitute against Palace, so he will probably be fit for Saturday. Fernando Llorente dusted off the cobwebs and lurched his way to not one, but two injury time goals, including the game-winner, against Palace too. The side bleeds goals though. Kyle Naughton is a mainstay in their back four and has been their best defender in stretches of this season. Ouch. Harry Kane must be salivating.
I try to put a positive spin on most things, but this fixture really feels like a blank page, a launching pad for a new season. The Christmas period is a whirlwind, but its also a stretch of the campaign that makes or breaks an ambitious side. When Spurs are contending for Champions League spots in April, they can always hark back to their successes in the Christmas run as one of the reasons they are still in contention. The schedule is inviting, the Champions League sting is fading, and Tottenham Hotspur are still in fifth place. Swansea, United, Hull, Burnley, Southhampton, and Watford take us into the new year, let the lilywhites breath some fresh air and new life into their 2016-17 campaign on Saturday.
How to Watch
Date/time: Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, 3:00 p.m. (UK), 10:00 a.m. ET (USA)
Venue: White Hart Lane, London, UK
Official: Jonathan Moss
TV: NBCSN Live Extra (USA), BBC Radio (UK), TSN1, TSNGO (Canada), Optus Sport (Australia), other listings at livesoccertv.com
Streaming: NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
Radio: Audio streamed at tottenhamhotspur.com, also often at BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, and TalkSport
At the time of this writing Toby Alderweireld's status is still uncertain. Poche had some promising words to say about Tottenham's injured superstar, and it looks like he's really close to fitness, but there is no official word that he will be in the match day eighteen. For this reason, I am counting him out for the Swansea clash. Joining him in the physio room is Ben Davies and Erik Lamela who remain sidelined as well. Danny Rose will return from his one match suspension for Saturday.
Assuming Toby is out, the back four are pretty set. Walker and Rose will roam the right and left flank, with Eric Dier and Jan Vertonghen occupying the center-back spots. Hugo Lloris will start in net.
As much as I like placing Moose in the attacking midfield destroyer role to free up space for Harry Winks, Moose's best spot is in the attacking role of the double pivot. Getting him comfortable, back in rhythm, and at his best is essential if Spurs aim to keep pace with the front pack of four. He will pair with Victor Wanyama in the center of midfield.
The attacking band is tricky. Son has been out of form, and at times dreadful in the past month, which begs the question as to why he should retain his spot. Add GNK's promisingly explosive substitute performance against Chelsea and many might feel that the young winger should get a shot. I am torn on this. My gut tells me you always choose the in-form player, but my sensibility says that Son still needs to see confidence from Poche. That stretch earlier in the year wasn't a fad, but indicative of what Sonny is really capable of. I think Poche sticks with the South Korean on the right side of midfield, but with a short leash in mind. If Son stinks it up in the first half, look for an early substitution of GNK. Eriksen will remain on the left side of the attacking band, while Dele Alli, continuing to work back his fitness, will play through the middle. Harry Kane will operate as the lone striker.
Jake Meador extends his lead at the top of the pack, while Menno and Zimmerman also predicted a win and move into a third placed tie together. Pardeep Cattry and Alex Greenberg proclaimed to an omnipotent force that succulent Turkey, candied yams, and Brussels sprouts, lathered in bacon grease and whipping cream of course, were not good enough for them. They demanded a spot-on score in the prediction league as well. Whatever blood sacrifice they made, it worked.
|Earl of Shoop
Dustin Menno: Swansea have proven they can score. They have also proven they can't defend. 4-1 Spurs, sorry Bob Bradley.
Matthew Pachniuk: Even when Swansea have been good at football, Spurs have still usually smacked them. I want this to be a 4-0, screaming Hallelujah to the heavens, type performance. It probably won't be, but Spurs will get theirs. 3-1 Tottenham.
Jake Meador: Swansea is very very bad. 2-0 Spurs
Salmon Chase: Bob Bradley has an alien shaped head. This cannot be denied. You'd think it's because his brain is so big but it's actually a highly evolved defense mechanism giving him a super thick skull. Like his head is just full of bones. He needs those so when we put four up on his loser team he doesn't hurt his frontal lobe when he starts head butting rocks, logs, anything he can find in nature as a way to cope with his predictable depression. 4-1 Tottenham.
Pardeep Cattry: Swansea can score, and former Spurs man Sigurđsson will bag one, as he's done consistently under Bradley. They also can't defend, and Spurs will have so fun with that. Tottenham 3-1.
Bryan Meyers: 2-0 Spurs. Swansea are a very bad team and the "Americans can't manage" narrative will beat out the "Spursy" narrative.
Skipjack: 1-0 Swansea. Is this your first Spurs game y'all?
GN Punk: 2-1 Spurs. We kidnap Gylfi at halftime, throw him in a Van Der Vaart kit, and he scores the winner.
Luke Zimmerman: Bob Bradley is low key bad and that somehow outweighs Spurs being bad-bad of late. 1-0 Tottenham.
Alex Greenberg: Harry Kane celebrates his new contract with a brace against a Swansea team that plays defense like James Harden. Think about this: Kyle Naughton might be Swansea's best defender. 3-0 Spurs.
Earl of Shoop: Abertawe ofnadwy ac nid ydynt yn sefyll cyfle. Rwy'n dal i garu Gylfi. Spurs 2-0.
Ben Daniels: If we can't beat Swansea then what's even the point of anything. 3-1 Spurs.
Bryan A: I really wish Earl of Shoop hadn't said such mean things about Gylfi's mother. 2-1 Swans.
Brian Mechanick: Things can't stay this bad...can they? Spurs 1-0.