Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Swansea 0-2 Tottenham: Llorente returns to haunt the Swans on a rain drenched evening in Wales

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On a night that was marred by torrential rain in South Wales, Swansea were looking to take points off Tottenham for the second time this season. The Swans went into the game with just 16 points after 22 games, three short of Crystal Palace and safety, while Spurs were sitting in sixth-place with 37 points.

Both sides were in desperate need of a win for vastly differing reasons, and there was surely only one victor when taking the form guide into account. So it began as many thought it would, with Spurs dominating possession, and they deservedly went ahead through Fernando Llorente’s header. Due to the conditions though, moments of quality were few and far between, even with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli on the pitch.

In the second-half, Swansea went looking for an equaliser and had a few half-chances, but Dele Alli was able to kill the game off at the second attempt after his initial shot was saved by Lukasz Fabianski following a sublime pass from Harry Kane to put his teammate in on goal. While Swansea will have felt hard done by to concede again in the 88th minute, it was no less than Tottenham deserved as they dominated the game.

Fernando Llorente returns to haunt Swansea

In the end, the Spanish striker was always going to come back to haunt Swansea. Fernando Llorente spent a very successful season with the Swans as he, along with Gylfi Sigurdsson, kept the Welsh side in the Premier League. He was then picked up by Tottenham as competition for Harry Kane, although, with the form the English striker is in recently, he was always just going to supply backup for the forward.

However, with Kane only able to make it onto the bench, Llorente was the one leading the line and he opened the scoring for the visitors. A free-kick was whipped into the box by Christian Eriksen and the Spanish striker glanced a header past Lukasz Fabianski as he wheeled away in delight. However, there was a moment of controversy to go with the goal as the striker was clearly offside, but the goal stood as the flag stayed down.

The Welsh fans in the stadium would have been so used to seeing Llorente do this in the white of Swansea, so watching his muted celebration would have been exceptionally odd. However, as soon as the forward was allowed to leave for London, much like Sigurdsson to Everton, he was always going to score against his former club, much like the Icelandic midfielder also managed.

Swansea continue to struggle

Tottenham are one of the Premier League’s best sides, and they dominate in the majority of their games. However, especially away from home, they will not have enjoyed quite the same level of dominance as they did at the Liberty Stadium. After 50 minutes, the home side had managed to keep over 70% of the possession, and they ended with a total of 68% of the ball in the end.

This is particularly surprising as the Swans were once an incredibly proud to keep the ball so efficiently. However, their struggles in recent years and the subsequent turnover in managers means that their style has diminished. Paul Clement was brought in to get a job done, which he did, but his style was hardly attractive, with a gritty yet effective style seeing them survive last campaign.

Against Spurs in the first-half they looked very poor. Misplaced passing, sloppy touches and even worse decision making meant that they rarely threatened in the opening 45. With just 13 league goals this season, it is easy to see why the Swans are at the foot of the table, and new manager Carlos Carvalhal needs to help the team rediscover the scoring touch that has eluded them all season, and this will only be helped by the Swans keeping the ball for longer periods.

Sanchez gets very lucky

Tottenham’s Centre-half Davinson Sanchez was a very lucky player not to get sent off in the game after a challenge that should have warranted a second yellow card. After being booked in the first-half for a needless drag back, Mauricio Pochettino surely would have taken his defender to one side at half-time and told him that the situation in the game meant that he did not need to make any rash decisions.

Of course, the defender ended up making a challenge that would have surely seen a yellow card had he not have been on a booking already. Sanchez let the ball run past him which allowed Martin Olsson to get past him as Sanchez tried to clear the ball, and he only succeeded in hacking the left-back down. Through replays, it showed the challenge was an ugly one, but referee Bobby Madley decided that it did not warrant another yellow, which was to the disbelief of the home fans, and the relief of the defender. With the offside goal and the fact that Sanchez should have been sent off, the home side would feel that they were very hard done by and didn’t get much luck on the night, and they would be right to feel this.

Sanches once again disappoints

Where Sanchez was lucky, the other Sanches was anything but. Renato Sanches was a loan deal that had many Swansea fans licking their lips, but he has failed to light up the Liberty Stadium at any point this season. His status as ‘golden boy’ has not been one that he has lived up to, with his time in Wales spent predominantly on the bench, and of the times he has been on the pitch, they have been best summed up by the time he passed the ball to an advertising board instead of a teammate.

On Tuesday night he was poor once again. His passing was inaccurate and late, his touches were labourious and sloppy, and his decision making was rather second-rate in the end. Indeed, his best moment of the game came as he played a ball through for Luciano Narsingh, but on second glance it seemed as though the midfielder was actually trying to take a touch instead of playing the ball through.

Carvalhal, like Paul Clement, sees something in the player, but his performances must improve as he is currently struggling massively and taking up the place another player might thrive in. If Sanches can come good on his potential then he could be the spark that ignites Swansea, but, right now, he is struggling so much that some might question whether he is actually under the employment of European heavyweights Bayern Munich.

Tottenham push on as Swansea falter again

While the game was a rather drab affair, it was one that Tottenham would have been happy to play out as they rarely looked troubled in the match. Spurs have now moved up into fifth-place with 40 points, four points behind Liverpool with a game in hand, and two clear of arch-rivals Arsenal. Despite it being a hugely underwhelming season for the London side, Pochettino’s men will be contented with a Champions League spot for next season as the top four has been incredibly tight all season.

As for Swansea, their situation is becoming more dire with each passing day. 22 games, four wins and just 16 points in conjunction with other results this evening means that the Welsh side are now four points short of safety. Carlos Carvalhal has a huge job on his hands to keep the dressing room and the fans together, while he must get Wilfried Bony and Tammy Abraham back in the side and scoring, as the team are incredibly shy in front of goal. If they do not arrest their scoring slump soon, then they may as well just give up now.

Swansea: Fabianski 7 – Rangel 5 (Narsingh 6), van der Hoorn 6, Fernandez 6, Mawson 6, Olsson 6 – Renato Sanches 4, Clucas 5, Carroll 4 (Routledge 6) – Dyer 6 (McBurnie 5), Ayew 6.

Unused subs: Nordfeldt, Fer, Bartley, Mesa.

Tottenham: Lloris  6- Trippier 6, Sanchez 5 (Wanyama) 6, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6 – Eriksen7 , Dier 6, Lamela 6 (Sissoko 5), Alli 7 – Son 6, Llorente 6.5 (Kane 6).

Unused subs: Vorm, Aurier, Winks, Walker-Peters.

Referee: Robert Madley.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Darvill


Ben is an English and creative writing graduate that is now working his way up in the world of sports journalism. Having been writing for the last four years, Ben has written for a number of websites specialising in sport, with football a particular passion. He is a long-suffering England fan and eternal optimist when it comes to the Three Lions.

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