The positioning of Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen to get in to the inside left channel sees us twice come from behind to finish Swansea 2-2 Spurs.
Open, entertaining and enthralling. You couldn’t take your eyes off two footballing teams duelling it out at the Liberty Stadium. Twice Swansea went ahead and twice we came back, almost finding a winner as our Premier League clash finished Swansea 2-2 Spurs in South Wales.
There was a ton going on in this game as both teams tried to play football the right way in their own style.
Swansea go to Montero
The return of Jefferson Montero is integral to Swansea getting out of their mini-slump. Earlier in the season, the winger was roasting right backs for fun, but as we looked at in the Swansea vs Spurs preview, he makes their offence tick.
The inclusion of the Ecuadorian in the team brings the best out of Andre Ayew and Bafetimbi Gomis. Ayew can head towards the box with more conviction from his starting position on the right, as he knows the service is coming. Gomis can attack the six-yard box and use his explosive leaping ability.
Swansea made their intentions clear right out of the gate and looked for Montero every time they had the ball. The winger was hugging the touchline in order to stretch out our back four, looking to isolate Kyle Walker 1v1.
Even with his speed, Walker looked fearful of the task, Montero had given him fits in Spurs 3 Swansea 2 last season. It didn’t take long for Kyle to concede a free kick from impeding Montero’s first attempt to dribble past him. Walker had got up trying to jam the Ecuadorian before he could get started. After conceding that free kick, he backed off and this proved his undoing on their first goal.
The move to see them take the lead was a classic Swansea goal, indicative of their style of play under Gary Monk. They moved the ball around at the back to draw on and navigate our press. With four of our players out of the game, they then passed it briskly through midfield, looking early to switch it out to Jefferson Montero.
With Kyle Walker pinching in to keep numbers in the middle, Montero got the ball in acres of space.
This gave the Ecuadorian room to get up to speed and get at Walker before help could come. Walker backed off, wary of giving up a foul, but also tried to play Montero to go to the by-line and not over commit to any challenge that would allow him to jump inside.
This hesitancy and the lag that Walker gave Montero was enough room for the Ecuadorian to act like he was driving for the by-line, twist and then deliver a cross unopposed. He chipped the ball in perfectly for Andrew Ayew to arrive in the penalty area from his starting position on the right and head in to the corner of the net.
Swansea were looking for the one-two punch of getting Montero on the ball to deliver for Ayew and Gomis and they had succeeded in taking the lead.
Seeing how exposed Walker was, plus how hesitant he was to get sucked in and allow Montero to skip past him, Swansea continued to get the ball out to the flying Ecuadorian. He was heavily involved in their second goal. The Swans moved the ball swiftly up to him and he went at Walker again, this time winning a corner.
The corner was whipped in and with no man on the front post, Harry Kane stepped in and sliced the ball in to his own net. No men on the posts are something we’ve seen when looking at defending corners under Mauricio Pochettino. Our head coach likes to play a three-man zone across the six-yard box whilst the rest of the players go man-to-man. This leaves the near post area vacant and open to being attacked.
Swansea had two goals from their persistence of getting the ball out to Montero. This was often at the expense of playing through Jonjo Shelvey and Gylfi Sigurdsson. These two have offered through passing from different levels within the team for Bafetimbi Gomis to run on to, but the insistence of getting the ball to Montero negated their effect. With the Ecuadorian recently returning from a lengthy injury layoff, as he blew out of steam, so too did their attacking impetus.
What the first goal highlighted was Swansea’s ability to negate our press, but this wasn’t the case throughout the match. Any team that wants to take on a Pochettino side has to match it for numbers in the middle of the park as our players often drift infield so that we have 4 or 5 in central areas.
With Montero out on the wing and staying wide even when we had the ball, Gary Monk was giving up trying to match us for numbers in the middle for the sake of having a quick and often open outlet.
This numerical advantage saw our pressing have a big affect on the game as we started to win the ball back and gain territorial control of the match. Dier, Alli, Eriksen and either Chadli or Lamela floating in to create a central four frequently overran Sigurdsson, Shelvey and Ki Sung-Yueng. This saw us often regain possession in the Swansea half. In our attempts to play a high press and win the ball back quickly we also often fouled.
Spurs in the inside left channel
Whilst Swansea were getting the ball out to Jefferson Montero, we were focussed on getting at the inside left channel between centre back Federico Fernandez and right back Angel Rangel. We’d looked in the Swansea vs Spurs preview at how the Swans have given up chances from their right back zone and we seemed to be determined to get players in and around this area.
The chief tormentors were Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen. The Dane floated in to this channel often to pick up the ball.
The Englishman drove forward in to this alley from his deeper starting position.
The pair would combine to earn our two free-kicks that saw us twice level the game up. Both times Eriksen got on the ball and fed it in to Dele Alli’s run through this inside left channel. The first time Alli was fouled by Federico Fernandez; the second by Jonjo Shelvey. On each occasion, Christian Eriksen sent the resulting free-kick in to the Swansea net, wrong-footing Lukasz Fabianski both times. The first was a sighter; the second a thing of beauty.
With us now back in the game, we continued to press Swansea back. Their outlet, Jefferson Montero, was tiring and this stopped them getting out. Rather than replace the Ecuadorian, Gary Monk kept faith that he’d have another trick up his sleeve. Instead, he brought off his two midfield through passers in Gylfi Sigurdsson and then Jonjo Shelvey. He introduced Modou Barrow in an attempt to get some speed on the other wing against Ben Davies. Then he threw on Jack Cork to get some defensive stability as we began to have more space trough the middle third due to his two wide players.
Mauricio Pochettino changed both of our wide midfielders. Andros Townsend’s introduction was a sound one in that it forced Jefferson Montero back. The Ecuadorian had been getting far too high up the field and too easily on to Kyle Walker 1v1. The wide midfielder on that sidesimply couldn’t recover from the attacking phase to help in the defensive. The change to put Andros on provided fresh legs and speed to force a tiring Montero backwards and have to help cover his own full back.
Townsend often got on the ball and tore forward, skipping past challenges. Unfortunately, as is often the case, his final product was either the wrong choice of pass or shot. He did unleash one fierce drive from a trademark cut inside and shot that almost fooled Fabianski.
On the other side, Mauricio Pochettino removed Nacer Chadli for Clinton N’Jie. As against Monaco, Pochettino put N’Jie up top and dropped Harry Kane in to the number ten position, sliding Christian Eriksen out to the left. The idea here seemed to be to get N’Jie’s pace and inclination to run in-behind as high up the field as possible with the game becoming stretched.
N’Jie did get on the ball and in to positions where he could run at their defence or look to bring in Kane due to his moves forward from deeper. It looked promising that we’d add the winning goal, but Pochettino then removed Kane for Mousa Dembele. The Belgian sat deeper with Eric Dier, pushing Dele Alli on.
This move almost lost the game. Dembele gave the ball away, then tried to chase down his own mistake. It ended up with Eric Dier fouling Andre Ayew and Federico Fernandez seeing his header from the resulting free kick tipped onto the bar by Hugo Lloris. We’d gone from having chances to win 3-2 to almost losing the game by the same score line.
Swansea 2-2 Spurs overall
This was another strong performance where we had the chances to win the game, but again weren’t clinical enough to finish them off.
Mauricio Pochettino had Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen getting in to the inside left channel between Federico Fernandez and Angel Rangel. We’d had success with the free kicks and a number of shots from here. I was surprised that he didn’t introduce Andros Townsend on this side to get a natural left footer in-behind in this channel as well.
A point at Swansea is usually a good one. From the number of chances we created though, it did feel like two points lost.
Final score: Swansea 2-2 Spurs.
Mike J says
Another great article. Although it felt to me that we suffered as soon as the first sub came on. Both Townsend and Clinton have pace and trickery – but for this game at least – lacked the ability to make the correct pass or telling shot – they lacked that important final product.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Yes that was true of Townsend. He did push Montero back which helped, but when on the ball he always made the wrong choice. The three on two break that we had where he held on to the ball when he should’ve passed and then tamely shot straight at Fabianski was indicative of his afternoon.
Personally quite like Andros, He has Spurs in his DNA and offers great speed down the flank. But like Lennon his end product is lacking. Still cannot work out why we did not sign that Dinipro guy.
I though Lamela was meant to be a speed merchant like Bale, maybe injuries have taken a step away from him? Without Son’s direct running our attacking three lack the pace to scare a side. Chadli has a good touch for a HUUUGE man but I cannot see that three of playing push and run triangles
Swansea are no mugs when they play like that. Though recent results have may have taken some of the gloss of the draw they got at the Bridge, they are on their day a match for anyone.
A few points: Rangel and Montero meant Swansea had their best side out there.
About this time last year Harry Kane scored a ridiculous own goal in the Europa League, At that point he hadn’t started his amazing scoring run (Nov onwards) so maybe a good omen…
Tottenham really look threatening these days, the end product needs to improve but the years of unconvincing approaches have passed, and the early season slow shuffle across the back four has changed to a much faster transition with more forward (OK ‘vertical’) passes.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Good points Zaph. Kane also scored an own goal up at Sunderland in the 2-2 game at the start of last season, so hopefully the omens are good.
The faster transitions are great to watch and we are now far more dangerous to watch on the counter attack. You’ll be dropping the inverted commas soon, welcome to the vertical club ;)
Mark, surely Lamela’s reluctance to fall back to help Walker (who seemed to be always 20 yards infield) had a huge bearing on this game?
With Montero playing high and wide, Lamela needed to drop back and Poch’s failure to organise that cost us.
And it’s time that Poch decided once and for all that Townsend is far too selfish (maybe N’jie should have been Lamela’s sub – and earlier, he needs game time!) and Eriksen is neutered when moved out wide.
We are getting far too many yellow cards, too, and it’s about to start biting us… Dier gone for Liverpool and Alli will be next.
But overall, the team is improving week by week and we haven’t had the benefit of a fit Pritchard yet!
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
I was thinking that about Lamela whilst watching, but it was hard to blame him. Montero was hanging extremely high up the pitch, so high that it made it almost impossible for Lamela to be involved for us going forward and then get back to help Walker. In theory he is supposed to help his full back, but it was extremely difficult to do so because of Montero’s starting position. If Lamela had dropped right off to help Walker then we would’ve struggled to generate attacks going forward and would’ve invited both Montero and Taylor on.
It was a difficult one. On one hand Lamela’s job is just to track the Swansea full back, which he did. On the other he needs to help Walker, but the system means that Walker has to be able to guard the opposition winger 1v1. Tough debsions for Poch to make, do you tell Lamela to drop and invite Taylor forward? or do you keep Lamela pushing up field to keep Taylor honest and trust Walker, who does have speed, to cover 1v1 on Montero?
Great read, Mark!
I could hardly peel my eyes of the screen, much less analyze what was going on – good job ;)
Yes, Townsend on the left seems a better prospect, doesn’t it.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Thanks Reinert. Yes, Townsend on the left just looks better to me if he is going to play anywhere at all. He seems a lot more instinctive and a lot less selfish whenever I have seen him here.
Townsend was truly shocking. He has speed and dribbling ability, but has no idea what to do next. He lacks intelligence and tactical awareness.
He is not a footballer, more like a sprinter who has been told to play football.
It was actually embarrassing, watching him make a fool of himself.
Walker also lacks intelligence and relies on his speed too much to get himself out of trouble.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
Townsend seems like a player that is trying too hard to impress for me. When he gets a chance to play he is trying too hard to score a goal so that he can say to the coach, now you have to play me more.
Mark, whilst I totally agree with your thoughts on Lamela’s problem, the fact remains that we were in dire Montela trouble from the outset and his (and/or Poch’s) decision should have been to attempt to cover the problem, not an anticipated one from Taylor.
AND have Walker stationed somewhere better than 20 yards infield.
Spurs Fanatic - Mark says
It’s up to the coach and how much he wants to be influenced by another manager’s setup to change his system. We’ve seen before that Poch likes to be aggressive so I’m guessing that’s why he didn’t change it. If he wanted to change it he would’ve been barking at Lamela to get back.
Good guess, I’m thinking, Mark.
So he’s shown up yet again to be rather inflexible – and thus culpable.
That, plus his odd substitutions both here and in other games, is becoming a bit of a worry for me.
Put it down to inexperience, perhaps, but I would have expected a bit more tactical nous.
Looking forward to your Liverpool analysis after the break.
nathan Barber says
Great article, I like what you have to say. I just wrote this article why Harry Kane’s lack of form is a blessing in disguise for the Tottenham squad. Check it out!
Chazza, no disrespect, but you are way off the mark questioning Pochetello’s ‘tactical nous’ (implying that you have more?). Time and again he’s proven us wrong when we’ve second guessed his tactics, it doesn’t always work for ANY coach, but he’s turned this team into something impressive by minor tweaks, and turned several seemngly average players into individuals able to complete with the leagues more expensive footballers.
I have before wondered why he’s making the team do something, then I see )or Mark sees) how he tweaks it to make it work.
In this game Montero set up one goal, for the second Walker marshalled him very well and conceded a corner, that was good defence – can’t legislate for Harry’s miskick. Every other team that’s faced Swansea with Montero this season has had a torrid time, Walker had a battle, but he coped very well – I am personally stunned how much the defence is transformed this season, with Walker, Vertohghen and Davis cutting WAY back on errant passing and increasing successful play.
I listen to analysis in French and Spanish and those commentators are purring over Spurs’ solidity at the back.
I’m not an anti-Poch by any means and recognise the team’s improvements – as stated in an earlier post. And you’re right, the defence is much improved… noted by most commenatators, as is Poch’s “no Plan B”.
And nowhere do I imply I know more than he – that’s your assumption, and “way off the mark” as you so quaintly say.
An opinion is not a statement of superiority… it’s a judgement based on observation, be it right or wrong.
But, in spite of Lloris, dropped points against Stoke and Leicester, Everton and Swansea are the responsibility of the coach in the final count. That’s responsibility, notice, not blame.
But blame can still be allocated and it’s his when substitutions go wrong.
And go wrong they did, in spades, against Swansea.
I’d add that Walker did NOT cope very well. He improved, second half but his first 45 minutes were abysmal.
Yes but it’s still a judgement, I’ve made the same ‘mistake’; I coached very successfully and was able to win championships but was bewildered by the challenges of the new top flight. I didn’t think I was, I thought I could see obvious things, but over the last few years I’m realising that there are chancers (…) and motivators (..) and methodologists (wenger…) and pragmatists (Morinho…) and combinations of these things, along with young people with stardom, too much money etc…
The ‘No plan B’ thing is one thing I disagree with Mark and others on, sometimes – as has been proven withthis team last season, it’s stick to the system and the ‘plan B’ if you like is that at the last pahse of the game Spurs will dominate, not by “thowing on the big guy” and “hitting long balls” but by introducing destructive pace in place of fatigued front 4 pressers.
Don’t underestimate how Clinton and Townsend upset (or perhaps prevented) any late onslaught from Swansea… in days gone by we’d have been back defending for the final 20.
This despite their obvious deficciency in shooting/passing well.
I put this to you all and Mark, in particular, that this is just one aspect where Poch is like a master card player – he basically cancelled out the late Swansea pressure with inadequate players, Monk hasn’t been that outplayed this season (when montero wasthere)
I have really begun to enjoy watching Spurs games again. I can see Poch’s vision for the side, and what he wants to do. I like the floating front four, and the confusion this causes opposing defenses.
Harry Kane isn’t a goal scoring striker (my opinion, please don’t be annoyed), rather, he is our own equivalent of Thomas Muller. We will see this more when we buy a striker to play upfront, and Harry is allowed to float behind him. I’ve watched his movement, the way he drops deep, all part of Poch’s system, I know, but Lambert and Osvaldo did that too, but made headway into the box more than Kane does. He enjoys the generating of chances, dribbling into the box and helping the team too much to be a clinical striker, so he’s a do-it-all forward.
Chadli and Townsend should be dropped in my opinion. Chadli, for wasting that God-given physique and the technique he possesses – in Africa, we scream ‘eat your marker’, which means overpower him and go past him-he never eats his marker. Chadli always checks onto his right foot. Not to shoot but to lay a short pass. Very predictable, and not potent.
Andros doesn’t know what he wants, to create or to score, as it’s obvious he can’t do both. I’ve waited and waited, but it’s still not clear to him what the coaches want him to do, so he should be benched till he leaves or learns. I have no problem with him shooting, but be more accurate, man. He wants to be Robben, then he should aim for the top corners of the goal or the middle more accurately. Hit the target, let the keeper punch it, if not pass, and pass simply. I’m praying more and more for Pritchard to get back to fitness and stake his claim, oh, and sticking needles in a Gareth Southgate doll for getting him injured in the first place. I liked Onomah in pre-season, what about him coming in?
I’m pleased with our progress, guys, all we need is patience and the players the humility to learn and keep growing.
Townsend doesn’t seem to get his head up, but one thing on the positive side is that his medium/long range shots now keep lower than they used to (they always used to end in row z).