A frank assessment of Swansea’s post-Capital One Cup win would categorise their form as being below usual standards. After beating Newcastle in the immediate aftermath of their triumph Michael Laudrup is now scratching his head after two successive defeats. With a trophy in the cabinet and European football acquired the south Coast club are in danger of slipping into cruise control. Currently sitting ninth in the Premier League table their spot in the top-half is far from assured and slipping into the lower echelons would be a blotch on an otherwise excellent campaign. The challenge for Laudrup is to motivate his players for the final eight games. Securing a place in the top-10, which would as their best finish in 30-years, is likely to be at the forefront. Victory over Tottenham should get them back on track.
Spurs have wilted under the pressure of maintaining a top-four place and will have championed the timing of the international break. Three defeats on the trot have threatened their Champions League dreams with Arsenal now breathing down their neck. April is a make-or-break month for Andre Villas-Boas and his reputation in England. With a recharged playing squad and, of course, Gareth Bale at his disposal there is no reason why he can’t earn the club a seat on European football’s top table. With the prospect Europa League success still a reality every match from now on will be a cup final. Firstly, and most importantly, they must get back to winning ways at Swansea. Everything could hinge on that.
Swansea could welcome back Chico Flores for the first time since ruptured ankle ligaments against QPR in early February. Kemy Agustien (thigh) won’t feature.
Gareth Bale is fit after a bout of illness while fellow Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon (hamstring and groin) is likely to start. Michael Dawson (hamstring) is also back and should captain the side but Younes Kaboul, despite being match fit, won’t be risked by Andre Villas-Boas.
What the managers said…
“The big clubs always hate the international break. In Spain, they call it the FIFA virus because the players are away and only come back on the Thursday, travel on the Friday and then play on the Saturday. The big teams always suffer, especially in the first game after the break, because they haven’t been together for two weeks. Swansea are different. We only had six players away so it’s not like 12 or 15 for the big clubs like Tottenham, where it is a bigger problem. I really hope they suffer from the FIFA virus. That would be nice for us because they are one of the best teams we have played this season.” Michael Laudrup hopes Spurs are suffering from the ‘FIFA virus’ as their players return from international duty (Express)
“Most of the teams will have to get their act together, us exactly the same. It shifts very quickly for any team in the Premier League who does not get results. I think normally it’s within the 70 to 72 margin. Seventy is normally enough to get in those four spots. The fact we have had these results recently has put people closer to us but we have been under pressure before and we built a gap which has been shortened now. We believe in our team and we haven’t lost our confidence. We just have to make sure we get the minimum amount of points to be within that range of 70 points at the end of the season.” AVB still believes Spurs can make the top four this season (Guardian)
Pre-Match Statistic: The six goals Spurs have conceded in the 90th minute and beyond is the most in the Premier League this season
Prediction: Swansea City 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur