Well that was a welcome result. For sixty minutes Spurs were given a first row seat to the doldrum that is football at the Turf Moor and then Eric Dier happened. Continuously one of the unsung heroes from this magnificent era at the club, the versatile twenty-three year old moved to midfield after the Harry Winks’ injury and scored the game-winner in the sixty-sixth minute. Dier was unflappable in a knock-down situation and picked out the right corner of Burnley’s net in a shot that was more difficult than it first appeared. What a squad Tottenham have when they can replace their two starting central midfielders with Mousa Dembélé and Eric Dier. Great times at the club, indeed.
Spurs win against Burnley was a near perfect result in terms of how their rivals fared. Chelsea lost to Palace, closing the gap between them and Spurs to seven points, while everyone below the lilywhites dropped points too save Liverpool. United drew to West Brom, while Arsenal and City drew 2-2. In post game comments, Poch has come out and said that Spurs are in the title race, Cartilage Free Captain has a guide to dealing with statements like this, but ultimately more points off Chelsea’s lead need to be shed before I am a believer. That said, all is well and wonderful at White Hart Lane with nine games left. Tottenham sit in second place in the Premier League table, three points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand, four ahead of City in fourth, and nine and eleven points clear of Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, with both clubs having played one less than Spurs.
Swansea, on the other hand, are in the midst of a relegation scrap. They are in seventeenth place with twenty-eight points on the year, one point ahead of Hull City, five points ahead of Middlesborough, and eight points ahead of Sunderland, with the latter two of those teams having an extra game to play. Burnley and Crystal Palace, coming off their massive victory over Chelsea, sit directly above them.
Of all of those teams, Swansea play the best football and they probably have the most talent. They had a nice run of form in January when they defeated Liverpool and Southhampton in back-to-back matches and defeated Leicester in February, but their last three matches have seen the Swans squander opportunities. They defeated Burnley at home, which was positive, but lost to Bournemouth and, more importantly, Hull City away. They drew to Middlesbrough over the weekend at the Liberty Stadium in a game they really should have won.
Swansea rely heavily of Gylfi Sigurdsson to pull the strings in their attack and the Icelandic international hasn’t disappointed. Siggy is having a robust campaign, scoring nine goals, assisting on eleven, and leads the team with thirty-two appearances — their place in the table certainly doesn’t fall on his shoulders. Fernando Llorente started slow, but has picked up steam under Paul Clement and leads the team with eleven goals, while Leroy Fer is in the top three in the team in goals, assists, and appearances. Tom Carroll has also cemented a place in the first team since his arrival from North London and has been a bright spot of late for the Swans.
Their defense has been atrocious though and this is the real reason why the Swans are fighting for their Premier League lives. They have conceded the most goals this season at sixty-three and, with just five clean sheets to their name, are in a four-way-tie for second to last place in number of shutouts this campaign. Remember when Spurs put up five against them in December and it felt like it could have been a lot more? Well, that hasn’t been an uncommon feeling for those who have followed Swansea City this year.
With Chelsea playing Manchester City on Wednesday, this is a great opportunity to either gain points against the league-leaders, extend their lead over a chief rival for the top four, or maybe even do a bit of both. Swansea are at home and will fight hard to stay out of the bottom three. Look for Spurs to continue their winning ways on Wednesday.
How to Watch
Date/time: Wednesday, 7:45 p.m. (UK), 2:45 p.m. ET (USA)
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales, UK
Official: Lee Mason
TV: NBCSN (NBC Sports Live Extra), BBC Radio (UK), TSN5, 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
The injury list grew on Saturday. The starting central midfield pair of Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks left early with injuries, but one is more severe than the next. Harry Winks’ season is over after the club confirmed that he sustained ligament damage to his left ankle today. Victor Wanyama’s back looks significantly less serious and he hasn’t been ruled out to play on Wednesday. Harry Kane continues to work out on his own, while there is no further news on Danny Rose’s progress. Lamela underwent surgery for his hip on Saturday.
These injuries complicate things for Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are unbeaten in their 3-4-3 this season, but Wanyama is central to that formation and he looks unlikely to feature. One could argue to remain in the 3-4-3 if Winks was still healthy, while playing Moose deeper, but that is now out of the question too.
What is certain is that Eric Dier will start at defensive midfielder. I can’t see anything other than this unless Poch goes super wacky and pairs Moose as the holding midfielder with Christian Eriksen or maybe even Moussa Sissoko. Both options seem silly. For this reason the decision is whether to plug Wimmer in for Dier, which causes a conundrum because neither he or Jan Vertonghen are right-footed, or to revert back to a 4-2-3-1.
Pochettino doesn’t seem to be a fan of Wimmer this year, and while we are so damn good in the 3-4-3, I think he’ll opt for the 4-2-3-1 to place more of the players he favors on the field. This and the fact that we were great in the 4-2-3-1 last year with a Dier-Moose pairing, something we haven’t seen this term. Spurs will start with Ben Davies at left-back, Janby Alderweirthonghen in the center, and Kyle Walker at the right-back spot. Moose and Dier will start in central midfield, with the attacking band consisting of Eriksen, Alli, and Son. Vincent Janssen will get another shot up front.
More noteworthy movement at the top of the table! Brian Mechanick and I dropped a perfect 2-0 result, nice scores for the current and former authors of CFC preview and prediction league series! Meador remains stuck at twenty, while GN Punk won a point, but not a perfect score. Three tied at twenty-two. Dramatics.
Cartilage Free Captain Prediction League Standings
|Earl of Shoop||14|
Dustin Menno: Away matches are never things you look forward to but I'm a lot less nervous about going to Swansea than I was about Burnley. 2-1 Spurs, with Tom Carroll scoring a belter for the Swans.
Matthew Pachniuk: 4-2-3-1 is a less scary prospect when Dier and Moose are the two central midfielders trotted out. This hasn’t happened once this season, after all of last year’s success. Its for this reason that I’m not too worried about a temporary shift away from the 3-4-3. The train keeps rolling. 2-0 Spurs.
Jake Meador: Swansea is better defensively than they used to be, but still not great. Much more open game than Burnley and a bit nervier too. 2-1 Spurs.
Salmon Chase: 4-0 Spurs with Tom Carrol pulling off his Sandra shirt midway through the second half to reveal a Spurs shirt giving Spurs a two man advantage for the rest of the game. Hey did anyone else watch wrestlemania while making their picks?
GN Punk: Even with the injuries, this is a match that Spurs should win. It won't be easy, of course. 2-1 Spurs.
Pardeep Cattry: Spurs have two dead Harrys plus a dead Danny Rose and maybe other dead people I'm forgetting (RIP), so the trip to Swansea won't be easy, but even Tom Carroll won't be able to stop 'em from winning. Tottenham 2-0.
Brian Mechanick: Swansea always always always makes things harder than they should be. I see a squeaky bum 1-0 win, with a set piece carrying the day. Spurs 1-0.
Alex Greenberg: 2-2 draw. Tom Carroll and Harper June get their revenge.
Earl of Shoop: Spurs 2-0 off a lifeless Swansea side. Sorry Gylfi, you're still my one true love even though your team is trash.