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« Bale and Adebayor | Main | Lennon returns to restore balance to the facere »

This given Sunday

Spurs 3 Swansea 1

Any given Sunday? Not for Spurs in recent weeks. We haven’t won since early February until this particular Sunday just gone, but we finally did so with focused discipline and tenacious execution. We won because we fought for every inch in what is possibly my favourite victory at the Lane this season. I’ve bestowed this particular accolade to it because of the test the opposition gave us and the astuteness of our tactics in our response. We were patient and structured, our football was slick and our players spirited.

There was no parking of the bus from the Swans. They turned up to play their possession football, to have us chase them. But Harry Redknapp set us up to combat this with Parker and Sandro in the middle. A case of containment and closing down perfectly illustrated by both players that led by example, challenging the opposition higher up the pitch with the aim to win the ball back as early as possible. Give them no time to pass and run and break up any pattern to their play. You could question why we’ve given them so much respect as to line-up with the aim to nullify their rhythm. Why not? It was intelligent play, making sure that Swansea did not get a stranglehold on the game and allowed us to display strength in body and concentration and more importantly, still be able to play ‘our game’ when in offensive positions. It proves as a unit we are functioning, as a collective we can do what’s necessary to frustrate the opposition and carve out opportunities at the other end.

It also proves we placed the nessisity of winning above all else. Chess game football. Okay, so it was Redknapp, so it's probably more Backgammon.

First twenty minutes or so Swansea dominated possession (60/40) without dominating the match in terms of sustained pressure. We defended resolutely, our midfield showing industry in chasing down every ball/player. We took the lead with a quick attack (four passes for the ball to find its self at the feet of Bale) with Luka releasing Gareth. The cross for Adebayor was intercepted, finding itself in the path of van der Vaart who finished with supreme pomp, passing the ball into the net. Our first shot on target. A proper punch, no sign of playful slapping. Once chance, one goal. Clinical.

Defend. Chase. Recycle possession with pace. Attack.

The tactic was all about tempo. Don’t let them play, win the ball back, release the ball as quickly as possible to force an attack. It was working, be it to the detriment of the player’s physical state (retaining this pace for 90 minutes is unlikely in any scenario). But then the plan was not to ‘contain’ Swansea for the entire duration of the game. The hope was to hit them on the counter/break a couple of times to put it beyond them.

Bale was in his far more traditional left-flank role, waiting for the pass, looking for the pass but still capable of moving inside if necessary. He worked himself into decent positions. Wasn’t the only one that looked hungry for it. Adebayor worked as hard as we know he’s capable of in his lone forward role, except it’s not really lone with the support he’s able to facilitate with his movement. vdV busy and sublime, Modric always seeking to play the killer ball. Something he forgot to do when he took a shot rather than slip Adebayor in for what could have been 2-0.

The pressing game was a success. Swansea, for all their endeavour could not penetrate. Gallas made you forget King. Kaboul was a rock. Walker pulsated and BAE made me LOL when he struck Parker in the back with the ball from a free kick (best moment of the game).

What followed in the second half was the true test of whether we had turned that corner and rediscovered our belief. The tempo was now at a slower pace (in terms of easing down on the closing down) which meant they would see more of the ball. But as with most games the balance would mean we would be able to express ourselves equally so rather than remain confined to the exclusively to containment instructions.

Brad saved brilliantly with fingertips from Sigurdsson. Ominous. In the 58th minute Routlege lays the ball off to Sigurdsson who this time kicks his shot into the ground which bounced up and in for the 1-1. Open space, open game. But if you believe you have better quality in attack then it’s to our advantage. Pound for pound it should be our advantage. The test was whether we buckled or remained patient and pushed for it.

The latter.

Bale to vdV, header, saved. We continued to push for it, building up sustained possession and pressure in the final third towards the 70th minute mark. Lennon made a welcomed return (on for Sandro) giving us the option to truly stretch the game with width on both flanks. An open game, further opened with the emphasis now on Swansea to do the chasing and closing down. The home team now dictating the rhythm, the opposing team dancing to our tune.

More good work from Bale saw his cross cut out by Williams with Adebayor in waiting. Corner, delivered, Bale header off Graham for another corner. This was like watching a team getting the basics right from dead ball positions. If that felt surreal what followed was akin to a twist in a David Lynch movie. vdV with a peach of cross, as simple as it gets, into the box for Adebayor to jump between Williams and Monk to head in for 2-1. A goal directly from a corner. Insanity.

We still continued to push. Bale beasting his way through defenders into the box, laying it off for Modric who had his shot blocked. Then Livermore (on for vdV)  makes up for a misplaced pass by winning it back and giving it to Modric who then swapped the ball with Bale a couple of times before releasing the Welsh wonder who run full pelt through the middle before reshaping to cut in ever so slightly to shoot with his left. Ball found itself saved and landing at the feet of Lennon who took it out to the wing, then teased and turned to cross beautifully for Adebayor who once more got between two players to head in for the 3-1. Rose came on for BAE late late on,  Swansea had some half chances towards the end, but in the end we claimed all three points with a top drawer professional performance spiced up with some delicious football – a testament to both manager and players for turning that corner and setting us up nicely for the final seven games.

We never lost our focus at the task at hand. We remained completely committed to claiming the three points.

Redknapp out thought Rodgers, so credit to him for drilling the players into the perfect mindset and a formation that asked a lot from the players but never neglected the style we adore to watch. Credit also to Swansea for having the balls to play the way they did. As for Rodgers as a prospective Spurs boss, I'd like to see how he handles a second season with Swansea at the Prem first. Having drawn our last two league games it was important for us to finally consolidate our momentum with a win. Work rate evident was ample proof that this team has woken up and has no desire to fall back to sleep.


More on Bale and Adebayor in a separate article.


Reader Comments (28)

same old lennon, no end product.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterliamlemur

Well summed up. I thought we should a versatility in our play. The ability to mix it up and sucker punch (much like utd did to us not so long ago... Only we played it better) and the ability to sustain pressure to find the winner at the end. I have not seen spurs play to the end for a while, I have always felt we have had to beat the opposition in front of us before the 60th minute, so that is pRticually pleasing. My only complaint is modric. I don't know where he is at the moment. He can and should be giving more. I think he needs to take a good hard luka at himself. (apologies..)

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete-o

I found the game painful as a supporter to watch but as a football fan great. The good thing about Spurs at the moment is that we know they have another gear, Modric, Ade etc didn't play that well for periods in the game and it could have been more.
I watched the game again on Sky today and they played well having thought 3-1 flattered us when I left the ground, maybe because it was the highlights and it didn't show the random mislaid passes. Much to be positive about but still things that weren't right such as Bennys positional play and Sandro still looking off the pace at times. RDV has been one of the better players recently too.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDD

The WHOLE team played well in this one. Not one player really put a foot wrong in my opinion.

I can't find it again now but I read/heard a stat somewhere that said that every tackle Parker made in this game was successful, how good is that!?! (I may also have dreamed this).

It was a special game to watch.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterCanada Yid

Another important point to mention.. Arsenal got deservedly beaten by QPR. This will've surely given our players a lift before taking on Swansea. And, as we're first up on Saturday against Sunderland, that incentive to climb back above them will remain. Hopefully watching us climb back above them will make playing Man City that bit more uncomfortable for them.

Question : 3rd in the league, or winning the FA Cup - which would you take if offered?

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPP

Looking at other comments I may have got a little giddy with my post, but I don't really care. COYS

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterCanada Yid

@DD Benny was man marking routledge so i don't think his positional play can be criticised.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:42 PM | Unregistered Commenterliamlemur

liamlemur - watch the game again. The three moments he was caught out - he certainly wasn't man-marking Routledge he was caught out forwards of him. Twice he only ambled back.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDD

Winning the cup makes a club glorious and famous worlwide. It's a trophy that earmarks a club forever.

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterIoanX

@DD i did clock that during the match but then when i realised he was man marking routledge assumed that was why, perhaps not. I would rather win the fa cup and finish 4th than finish 3rd but i would rather finish 4th than win the fa cup and finish 5th.

why debate this when we can finish 3rd and win the cup anyway!

p.s does anyone know what companies have boxes at the lane?

Apr 2, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterliamlemur

Does anybody know the guitar chords for ossies dream I can't find them annywhere

Apr 2, 2012 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterwhitehart fantic

i will try and work them out tomorrow if i have time.

Apr 2, 2012 at 11:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterliamlemur

"It also proves we placed the nessisity of winning above all else. Chess game football. Okay, so it was Redknapp, so it's probably more Backgammon."

all of that mate, thats why your articles are always worth reading, not alot i could add to that!

Apr 2, 2012 at 11:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterspurs muaythai

Bring on Chelsea. And Sunderland.

Apr 2, 2012 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMexspur

@liamlemur "same old lennon, no end product." Tell Adebayors forehead that...

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard

You would take the FA cup ANY day, mad not to. As long as we came 4th. Who cares about finishing above arsenal when we could rub it in their faces that we would have won 2 trophies since their last which was yonks back. Also, I grant the concern that Chelsea might win the Champions League but let's be honest, is that really realistic? With them potentially facing barca in the semis if Milan screw up tomorrow I don't really think Cheatski have a chance.

Well summed up Spooks, any thoughts on whether you think it's worth it smashing our wage ceiling for Adebayor just on the basis of 1 season?

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

Any Goons wanna troll in here?? didn't think so.

Also serves as a lesson from the detractors, all teams have bad runs, you should always have belief in your team that they'll turn it around.

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterShady

Witnessing the aerial treat Ade posses for the opposition, I can only grieve over all our corners and attempted flicks in the box in so many games that never cleared the first man. I hope HR will feed them the same or better pre game breakfast he fed them with before Swansea game …. and double the plate for Modders…..please.

Apr 3, 2012 at 1:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

".....any thoughts on whether you think it's worth it smashing our wage ceiling for Adebayor just on the basis of 1 season?
Apr 3, 2012 at 12:53 AM | Spence
What are you talking about? Ade was mauling us for years and you’re still not sure of his abilities? That man just need to be fed with useful balls; crosses, corners, flicks, double-passes, play-ins. BTW, wage ceilings are for Boltons, Stokes, Blackburns of the PL. Spurs should be more concern in establishing a COMPETITIVE wage ceilings relative to the opposition we try to compete against and topple, providing that the billionaire owner wants it and not to continue being a fucking scrooge.

Apr 3, 2012 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterbeetleblues

"Mind the Spurs" - Love it. Finishing above Arsenal is still paramount in my mind. More goals lads! Glad to see Lennon back, watching him work is always fun. Ade was great, a work horse as usual, glad to see him scoring goals again. VDV - to see him score those kind of goals is always a joy. Onward Coys!

Apr 3, 2012 at 2:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterBimspur

Too much about Bale in the media for this game imo. It was a monumental team effort to close them down which made the win possible. Without that we may well have lost and Bale and the rest would have had a game like the one at their place - ie nothing to shout about. Helped that they were not sure where Bale would pop up so they could not double/treble up on him but that was because of the 433. Who was that driving through the middle in the move that led to the third goal, or cutting in for a Ricky Villa style dribble into the box, why it was that Welsh lad some want to tie to the touchline. But we are more fluid than that, at least until the summer.

Right side attack in the recent formation looks to suit VDV down to the ground and he has played great there and smiles and supports Ade (rather than skulking in the centre circle) and Ade just loves all the company he gets in this formation (he is a people person) and Luka looks fresher with extra sparkle(a whole season at CM is exhausting). Plus we can commit bodies forward while looking solid in the middle. We have found the holy grail of football formations. Keep it quiet though or everyone will copy.

But... what about Azza, the boy is a match winner, terrifies opponents, been doing it for years and still just a pup, where does he fit in to the new system? Good problem to have as they say. I suppose the answer is to let nature take its course. Soon enough one of them will get crocked and will need another reshuffle and new system and Lennon will again start and 433 will have served its purpose and be just a memory.

So same again away at Sunderland then 442 with wingers home vs Norwich then at Wembley against the pensioners we have options options options :)

Apr 3, 2012 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered Commentercoys

I am very happy that Harry picked the same line up that started against Chelsea. My biggest fear was that he would fall into the same old trap of underestimating the opposition and picking the same line up that beat weaker opponents the game before. Happy to say that the old dog learned a new trick and showed Swansea respect. And boy did it work. I just wish we had picked this exact same XI (at least the formation and tactics) against the Arse away, Manure twice and El-Citeh (tm). I reckon we'd be at least 5 points better off.
Spooky I disagree - thought the funniest moment of the game was after Kyle Walker missed that sitter header and proceeded to take an air kick, inadvertently catching the Swansea left back. Priceless.
Let's keep the same team between now and the rest of the season. It's easier to open up when you have to but it's much more effective to stay tight and commit wide players forward as and when required. Get this right and we will get 3rd place. Let's beat Sunderland on Saturday and then it's game on.

Apr 3, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterChiefy

Personally thought Modric suffered from being played too far forward - he spent much of the game chasing their centre backs. When he did get the ball he rarely had anyone to pass to as there was nobody in front of him. Would like to see Lennon in for Parker/Sandro with VDV more central. (I'd rest Parker for the Norwich game)

I just felt that for all Parker's energy and tackling (I saw him described as a human wrecking ball somewhere!) his offensive play was awful - he's much better with Modric close for the 5 yard pass who can then do something with it(his ball to Modric was very important for the first goal). Of the defensive duo Parker has been instructed to be the more offensive but he just seems to run into bad positions with the ball - generally off the pitch. Certainly Stoke's gameplan seemed to be to let Parker have the ball but stop him getting it to Modric which worked brilliantly.

If Harry leaves BR has to be on the shortlist - thought tactically they were superb and played super football. In the end our quality decided it - quite simply our key players delivered at the crucial moments. Swansea were infinitely better than Stoke but somehow left with nothing - or maybe it's a case of how the hell did Stoke leave with anything?

Apr 3, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterMattspurs

Best formation yet. Play it tight. I've been thinking and saying it all season and finally, Harry gets it right. Livermore is going to be top brass when he gets a foothold in that team, he's awsome-made a few errors on Sunday, but that's to be expected without a run in the team. That's the way to play every game until the end of the season. VDV was brilliant and deserved more praise than Bale or Modric, altough they were both outstanding. All in all a good day at the office.

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered Commentercookiebun

@Richard, my comment was sarcastic in reference to that tag being given to lennon by moronic footy fans who don't actually watch him.

Apr 3, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterliamlemur

Wage ceilings should apply to ANY club, regardless of their stature, if football is going to stay a relatively normal sport in terms of the money that's in it. We should be looking to tighten football, not expand it. We're one of the few clubs who performs exceptionally well whilst paying "normal" wages, and we should try and remain that way, not only to set an example but also so that we can stick a finger up to Man Shitty when they eventually lose this title race. However, I do agree with most people iv talked to that we should RAISE the wage ceiling so that our top players are paid, at the most, say £120,000 a week. I think this way we can compete with the other top clubs in Europe whilst still remaining financially viable. Just because we have a billionaire owner doesn't mean we should just start paying crazy wages. Better to spend the money on transfer fees for quality players. Hazard anyone?

Apr 3, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence

Funniest moment of the game: Everyone forgotten about Ade's attempted Rabona in the 2nd half....

Apr 3, 2012 at 9:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterShady

Shady it was quality, somehow we kept the ball during that. If he fell over do you think he would have been booked for diving?

Apr 3, 2012 at 11:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDD

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