Tottenham tactics: Swansea vs Spurs preview

After the international break, we return to Premier League action with a vital trip to the Liberty Stadium for Swansea vs Spurs.

The Swans already have a piece of silverware in the cabinet after securing the League Cup, but their form has stuttered since winning at Wembley. The Welsh side scrapped past Newcastle 1-0 but have since been defeated by West Brom and Arsenal in the Premier League.

So, what can we expect? And what should be the Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs this time?

Swansea set up and play

The Swans like last season are a possession-based team, but this term’s edition has a more incisive look about them. The difference is Sung-Yeung Ki instead of Joe Alllen alongside Leon Britton at the base of their 4-2-3-1 formation.

The South Korean moves the ball much more vertically than the Welshman, who has since departed for Liverpool. This moves possession more quickly in to the final third and gives their attacks added bite, whereas last term the ball was more often moved from side-to-side.

Some things remain the same in South Wales though. The team still likes to focus on moving the ball down the right side of the pitch, starting with Angel Rangel.

The Spaniard touches the ball more than any other Swansea player and combines well with Nathan Dyer to instigate attacks. Overloads are also created due to Jonathan De Guzman continually moving out towards this side – something Gylfi Sigurdsson used to do for the Swans last term. De Guzman, like Sigurdsson once did, trawls the inside right channel, receiving possession and trying to play in Michu.

On the left, Pablo Hernandez has replaced Scott Sinclair. Whereas the Englishman used to cut inside and shoot, the Spaniard comes infield looking to slide in through balls.

Up top with Danny Graham now departed, Michu has commanded the centre forward role over Itay Shechter. The Spaniard is adept at holding the ball up, but is primarily looking to receive the short passes played through by Hernandez and De Guzman.

Stopping Michu

Swansea’s most dangerous player in front of goal is perhaps the best place to start. The Spaniard has netted 15 times in the Premier League, mainly from playing in an advance midfield role where he can arrive later in the box.

He’s now been converted in to an emergency centre forward, being the focus for any hold up play and also looking to get in to positions to receive through balls.

His positioning is very central, as we can see from his last two home matches on Stats Zone.

Against Newcastle he receives a number of long balls played forward from Michel Vorm as well as the left back area. Further forward he operates very narrow; taking mostly short passes through the centre.

At home to Arsenal last week, he was once again the focus for any long balls forward from the back. Further up field, he takes a number of short passes from Jonathan De Guzman through the inside right channel, whilst also receiving a few squared passes from Pablo Hernandez from the left. Once again, where he receives possession is all rather narrow down the centre.


Michu pass received against Newcastle and Arsenal.

The Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs here needs to see us crowd these central areas where Michu operates. He’s not the quickest so isn’t a threat to run in behind, so our centre backs can really squeeze up on him. In deeper positions, we need to condense the space between our lines of midfield and defence to stop any through balls.

The play of Pablo Hernandez

Pablo Hernandez is a dangerous player, as he always seems to assist the assist. He often comes, looking to either slide a pass down the inside left channel or dribble past defenders and play a cutback.

Against Newcastle we can see how he plays several passes from the inside left channel. Two are straight down the channel with one successfully finding its target. The other is a diagonal through ball across the area, which is also on point. Add to this his two cutbacks from each side of the box and you basically have an insight in to his game.

In the match with Arsenal he was really trying work the inside left channel between the centre and full back, but the diagonal through balls are still there.


Pablo Hernandez passes played against Newcastle and Arsenal.

The Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs here will see Kyle Walker very much have his hands full with the dangerous Hernandez. Walker has had trouble this season against opponents who drift inside and so the Spaniard could give him plenty to think about. He needs to know when to track and when to pass Pablo on, so communication with his centre backs will be key here.

Swansea score through the centre

Most teams in the Premier League create their chances down one side or the other. Like Fulham who we faced two weeks ago, Swansea also create their chances through the centre.

The reason, much like with Fulham, is the fact that the Swans attempt relatively few crosses. In fact, only Fulham, QPR and Aston Villa have tried fewer balls in to the box than Swansea this season. If they do cross, it’s more likely to be a low driven ball or cut back than anything played with height.

They are far more likely to create a chance with a through ball though. As we’ve just seen, Pablo Hernandez is always trying to feed team mates in, but Jonathan De Guzman, Nathan Dyer and Angel Rangel sneaking up on the right are also a threat.

The Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs here really need to see us pack the centre as Arsenal did. This forces the Swans wide in to crossing areas where they don’t want to be.

Swansea concede through the centre and LB area

The Swans also concede the majority of their chances against them through the centre from opposition through passes. They are also far more likely to concede crossing opportunities from Ben Davies left back zone than Angel Rangel on the right.

In their last two home matches, Newcastle out shot the Swans by crossing from the left from open play and winning corners to this side. They also fed in a number of balls from the centre through the channels.

The Gooners were also able to go through the centre, with their first arriving from Nacho Monreal after an Oliver Giroud lay off. Their second came by on a breakaway in stoppage time, as Gervinho received a ball in acres of space with Swansea caught up field.


Arsenal and Newcastle chances created against Swansea.

The Tottenham tactics for Swansea vs Spurs here could see Gareth Bale with space to operate should he again be deployed as a number ten. Moussa Dembele’s dribble-drives could also see him have a major destructive presence in opening Swansea up through the middle.

In their left back zone, Ben Davies can often be caught out of position so Aaron Lennon’s return will also be key for Spurs.

Pressure the full backs and Michel Vorm

To have success against Swansea you have to stop them building at source. This means pressuring Michel Vorm to have to kick down field rather than going short to his full backs. It also means then pressuring the full backs so that they cannot easily move the ball forward.

Arsenal did a good job in forcing turnovers from Vorm having to kick long – and put a couple out for a throw – in Swansea’s last home match.

Norwich, who have won on both of their Premier League visits to the Liberty, also pressured the goalkeeper in to turning the ball over anytime he was forced long.


Forcing the Swansea goalkeeper to kick long creates turnovers.

The match at the Lane saw us do a good job of pressuring their goalkeeper and full backs, as we made Gerhard Tremmel go long quite often in that game. We also pressured the full backs well, creating a massive total of 39 interceptions in the match. More of the same is needed if we are to take all three points here.

Swansea vs Spurs outlook

This will be a difficult game with Swansea controlling possession and looking to probe our defence with through balls. We did a good job at stopping this at the Lane earlier in the season, but back at home, the Swans will be a much different proposition.

Michu is undoubtedly the danger man, but Pablo Hernandez, Jonathan De Guzman and Nathan Dyer will need to be stopped from supplying him.

Going forward, the team news that Aaron Lennon should be available will be beneficial seeing as Swansea give up a lot of crosses from their left back zone.

We also need to pressure Michel Vorm and their full backs to force as many long balls as possible. This creates turnovers and also breaks up their flow.

Swansea vs Spurs could well be another very tight game, settled by the odd goal.

Swansea vs Spurs prediction: Swansea 0 Spurs 1

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