Tottenham Hotspur entered today’s match against lowly Swansea City knowing that a big win could see them further banish the Wembley Stadium Hoodoo™ and re-establish themselves as Premier League title contenders. Instead, they faced a Paul Clement Swans side that parked ALL the busses, defended well, and nicked a point in a 0-0 draw. It was a hugely frustrating match for Spurs, who dominated every statistic except balls-in-the-net.
Spurs came out with some moderate squad rotation. Ben Davies started the match on the bench for Spurs, after playing 180 minutes last week against Everton and Dortmund. In his place, Son Heung-Min started at the left wingback position, with the usual back three of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, and Davinson Sanchez anchoring the back line. Kieran Tripier also returned to the right back position. Moussa Sissoko started the match in midfield beside Eric Dier.
To nobody’s surprise, Paul Clement set Swansea up to defend and frustrate, playing with five defenders and a game plan to hit back on the counterattack. That put Tottenham in the position, one they’ve faced a number of times already this season, where they had most of the ball but needed to break down a well-structured defensive team.
That’s exactly what happened in the first half. Spurs were clearly the better side, probing the Swans defense, but weren’t able to convert that possession into good scoring opportunities. Instead, Spurs looked mostly listless and without ideas.
There aren’t a whole lot of first half highlights to talk about: Harry Kane had a 25-yard free kick that was destined for the bottom corner, but Lukasz Fabianski read the play well and parried the ball away. Son Heung Min had a couple of half-chances as well playing well up the pitch, including one that hit the side netting.
Swansea didn’t generate much offense, but did have a half-chance on a counter that led to a broken up shot from Tom Carroll by Sissoko, and a dangerous corner that was headed well over the bar.
In the second half, Pochettino made no substitutions but opted to free up Son by moving Trippier to left wing back and Sissoko to right wing back. Unfortunately, the second half was much like the first, only much, much more so. Spurs kept the ball and peppered the Swansea defense with shots but weren’t able to break through their defense.
Spurs had arguably their best chance of the game in the 58th minute. Christian Eriksen played Son through on goal, but he had his close range shot blocked away by Fabianski. Moussa Sissoko then put a close pass into Harry Kane, who one-touched it off the bar and Swansea was able to clear.
A few minutes later, Harry Kane got a header off of an Eriksen corner kick that produced a fingertip save from Fabianski -- another great chance that went begging.
Pochettino eventually brought on Serge Aurier for Sissoko for some pace on the right flank, and Fernando Llorente came on for Son Heung-Min, but despite numerous opportunities, Spurs could not find a way past Lukasz Fabianski.
Spurs kept up the pressure and had chance after chance, but none could find the back of the net.
Mike Dean also had a bit of a shocker today, waving away two legitimate hand balls inside Swansea’s box and somehow giving a handball on Aurier when the ball clearly went off his chest and he was clipped from behind. None were given, and Spurs ended the match with a hugely frustrating 0-0 draw. Tottenham ended the match with a 26-4 advantage on shots, and 8-0 advantage on shots on target.
- Look, I’m not one to blame the officials when things don’t go our way, but Mike Dean was absolutely shocking today. Three legitimate penalty shouts waved away (and one given as a non-existent handball)? ONE of those HAS to be called. It was inexcusable.
- Still, Spurs dominated that match, and they didn’t score. There’s really no excuse for not winning that game, except for playing like garbage. Which Spurs kind of did.
- I should probably give credit to Swansea for defending well, but I’m too upset to be anything but angry about the way they Pulised their way to a point today.
- I don’t know what happened to Dele today, but he wasn’t very good. Yes, he was frustrated and he also was the recipient of several hard fouls, but he was pretty poor today.
- Likewise, I’m going to get accused of #TrippierBias today, but he was pretty much completely absent, even accounting for the fact that he played half the match out of position on the left.
- I’m sure there were some positive things to take from that match. I can’t think of any at the moment. Maybe they’ll come to me later.
- Get ready for another fun week of “SPURS CAN’T WIN AT WEMBLEY” bulls—t.