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Premier League review 16th December 2012

The two Premier League games on Sunday produced just one goal. Tottenham defeated Swansea 1-0 at White Hart Lane to move into fourth place in the Premier League table.

Swansea defended resiliently, with centre-back Ashley Williams a rock at the back.

Breakthrough

The Spurs breakthrough came in the 75th minute. Jermain Defoe fired in a free-kick and defender Jan Vertonghen turned home cleverly to give Tottenham a valuable goal.

Swansea offered very little threat going forward until the final minutes, when the Tottenham defence started to look nervous.

Swansea’s only real first half chance came when Michu attempted an audacious lobbed effort from the 40 yards, which had Hugo Lloris scrambling back towards his own goal. Unfortunately for the Swans and the Spaniard the ball went just over the cross bar.

Swansea were unusually quiet going forward and Tottenham were in control for much of the match. Michael Laudrup’s side usually have the better of possession, but Spurs dominated the ball and eventually got their reward.

Vital

The 75th minute goal could prove vital in the race for the Champions League spots. Spurs slipped up 2-1 at rivals Everton last weekend and needed to make a quick recovery. Andre Villas-Boas’ side did just that.

Everton drew 1-1 with Stoke at the weekend, but more importantly influential midfielder Marouane Fellaini could be facing a lengthy ban after a clash with Ryan Shawcross in Saturday’s encounter.

The FA have yet to comment on the incident, but the Belgium international is likely to be banned for the assault on the Stoke centre-back and Fellaini’s absence could make a big difference to the Toffees.

Fellaini is Everton’s top scorer and star player this season. His prolonged absence could give Spurs a major advantage in the race for fourth place in the next few weeks or even months, if Fellaini is given a lengthier ban.

Draw

Another team fighting for that fourth spot is West Brom, who drew 0-0 with West ham yesterday at the Hawthorns. The draw leaves the Baggies two points behind Spurs in the Premier League table.

Steve Clarke’s side have now failed to win in four games, but at least they halted their losing run, after suffering three consecutive defeats.

However, their current run of form has displayed the Baggies limitations. They have to recover from their current run of form, or their brilliant start to the season will go to waste this season.

A positive was that they kept a clean sheet for the first time in a while. The Hawthorns had been a fortress for the Baggies and helped the Midlanders to keep one of the best defensive records in the league in the early stages of the season.

Anyway back to yesterday’s encounter. The first half of the clash was a slight non-event, with very little action of note to talk about.

The second half was high on goal mouth scrambles but low on quality finishing. The best chance of the game came through Baggies midfielder James Morrison, as the Scottish international headed against the crossbar from a Chris Brunt corner kick. That was as good as it got action wise in the second period.

Slump

West Ham are currently in a slight slump which has saw Sam Allardyce’s men dropdown into the bottom half of the table, after making a superb start to their return to the Premier League.

The Hammers are struggling through an injury crisis at the moment and Hammers boss Sam Allardyce decided to name just six substitutes, because he didn’t have enough players to name the allowed seven.

This result is definitely a better one for the Londoners than for the home side. It’s not all bad news for West Ham though, as they are currently only six points behind fourth place Tottenham in the Premier League.

The Irons will also be happy to have kept a clean sheet, with the likes of James Collins and Winston Reid putting in sterling performances at the Hawthorns.

Improvement

The race for the Champions League spots is a very open one. All the teams competing for that fourth place have been consistent this season. If Tottenham or West Brom are going to clinch that fourth Champions League spot they will have to perform far better than they in yesterday’s encounters.

Are Tottenham favourites to finish fourth in the Premier League?

Mon 17 December, 2012
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