The weather was horrific in south Wales, but Tottenham Hotspur endured, grinding out a 2-0 win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday night and keeping Spurs in the hunt for a top four Premier League finish. Fernando Llorente scored his first Premier League goal in Spurs colors, and Dele Alli added a late clincher a few minutes from time.
The state of the Liberty Stadium pitch was awful, with standing water and mud all over, leading some to wonder if the game would be abandoned. The rain tapered off after halftime, and play opened up slightly as the ground had a chance to absorb some of the water.
Swansea fans might suggest that Spurs benefitted from a couple of questionable referee decisions, including Llorente’s goal which replay adjudged to be offside. However, after the match, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was pleased with his club’s performance in, shall we say, less than ideal conditions.
“Our objective was to take the three points. Yes, I'm happy because the conditions were so, so difficult to play. The first half was terrible, the second half was better. I think in the end we deserved the victory and I'm happy and very pleased with the effort.
“I didn't see [Llorente’s goal], but people say it was maybe offside. Always in football you need some luck to open the games. But in the end we deserved the victory. It's true that maybe Swansea can complain and they are right to complain, but in football sometimes these things happen for you and against you.”
While Harry Kane started the match on the bench, one of the big stories from this match was the return of Victor Wanyama to the side. The Kenya native had been out the past four months with a knee injury. Wanyama was a second half substitute for Davinson Sanchez, who Pochettino removed after he was nearly sent off for a hard challenge on Martin Olsson. Pochettino confirmed that the sub was tactical.
“Yes I was, I think we were all worried about the second yellow card. I think it wasn't one in the first half, the yellow card wasn't bad. The fans, everyone, start to pressure on the referee. Sometimes you have to try to avoid a problem. We preferred to take him off the pitch.”
Finally, Poch refused to be drawn into speculation about Danny Rose, who missed the match after re-injuring his knee during Spurs’ win over Southampton. Earlier reports suggested Danny’s knee might not be as severe as feared, but Pochettino was cagy with reporters about Rose’s timetable for a return.
“We need to assess him. After the game against Southampton it was impossible to train and now we are going to assess him. Then the club will give information about what has happened.
“I am concerned about everyone when they cannot be available to play. Sometimes it is small things. You know in this situation we cannot manage because I am not a specialist. I am not a doctor. Always you are worried because you want the players available and fit to play, so you can make your decision. But we need to wait and we will assess him in the next few days.”
With the win, Spurs jumped up to fifth in the table, and now have a two point lead over arch-rivals Arsenal. Spurs are seven points out of second place, with a game in hand. They face West Ham in a
cup final London derby at Wembley Stadium on Thursday.