Tottenham analysis: Depleted Spurs show character in Swansea comeback

tom collomosse
Evening Standard
Getty Images
Getty Images

Tottenham kept their Premier League title ambitions alive by staging an extraordinary late show at relegation-threatened Swansea.

Swansea led from Spurs old boy Wayne Routledge's 11th-minute goal through to the 88th minute as it looked like Mauricio Pochettino's men would slip 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

But Dele Alli equalised with his 15th league goal of the season before Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen struck in added time to complete a remarkable 3-1 victory - their fifth successive league win.

Tom Collomosse was at the Liberty Stadium to assess the key talking points...

Tremendous character

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Without four key first-team players, this was a chance for Tottenham to show their mettle. It was a close run thing but they were rewarded for tremendous fitness, persistence and hunger.

With only two minutes of normal time remaining, Spurs were 1-0 down. Then they had a piece of luck: the outstanding Eriksen’s volley was deflected and gave Dele Alli a tap-in.

In stoppage time, Spurs ran like it was still the first half. Janssen’s back-heel created the decisive second for Heung-min Son in stoppage time, and Eriksen added a classy third on the break.

How many teams could have achieved a result like this with Hugo Lloris, Kane, Wanyama and Rose missing? It was quite an achievement.

Transfer trends

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It is safe to assume Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has Huw Jenkins, his Swansea counterpart, on speed dial.

Five of the players on show here moved directly between the clubs: Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Carroll and Kyle Naughton from north London to south Wales, with Michel Vorm and Ben Davies going in the opposite direction.

A sixth, Wayne Routledge, also played for Tottenham, though he had spells with six other clubs before joining the Swans in 2011.

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino suggested earlier in the season that he wished Sigurdsson had not been sold to Swansea shortly after the Argentine took over at Spurs in 2014.

Davies in difficulty

(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Ben Davies has performed capably in the absence of Danny Rose, who has not played since damaging medial knee ligaments in the 0-0 draw at Sunderland on January 31.

Yet against his former club, Davies looked vulnerable at times, especially when he was exposed one-on-one. Jordan Ayew outmuscled the Welshman far too easily for Routledge’s goal, while Routledge and Naughton also caused him problems with their direct running.

In the early part of the game, when Swansea were sitting deep, Davies could not provide the same attacking threat on the left as Kyle Walker did on the right.

What now for Sissoko?

(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)

Moussa Sissoko – Tottenham’s £30million joint-record signing, don’t forget – started this game only because Harry Kane, Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks were unavailable.

It was just the seventh start in the Premier League for Sissoko since his move from Newcastle last August, and he lasted 61 minutes before he was replaced by Vincent Janssen, another player who does not convince Pochettino.

In that time, Sissoko was ineffective on the right of a 4-2-3-1, before performing slightly better in a central role when Pochettino switched to 3-4-2-1.

It was not enough to keep him on the pitch, though. Pochettino would surely let him leave – but who would buy?

Hit and hope

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Pochettino is one of the most methodical, meticulous managers in the Premier League – yet his tactical switches in the second half appeared increasingly desperate.

Beyond the substitutions – Janssen for Sissoko, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou for Davies – there was the sense that Pochettino was trying anything to see if it would work.

First Sissoko went into the centre. Soon after he came off, Spurs reverted to a back four. Christian Eriksen played on the left, then in central midfield.

Eric Dier played in midfield, a back three, and a back four. Jan Vertonghen moved from centre-back to left-back to accommodate Nkoudou. But in the end, the gambles paid off.

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