Tottenham Hotspur welcome Swansea City to White Hart Lane on Sunday in the first of a set of festive fixtures that will be vital to their chances of qualifying for the Champions League. Andre Villas-Boas will be targeting four wins in the next four games, but the the weekend’s match sees an in form Swansea side come to town, with their recent success at the Emirates Stadium likely to boost their confidence.
Steven Caulker vs Michu
While Swans boss Michael Laudrup will likely set up his team with Michu playing behind a lone striker, Spurs’ high defensive line will mean that the Spaniard spends a lot of his time up against the defenders rather than Sandro in midfield. As he showed against Arsenal, if he breaks free behind the backline he can be absolutely lethal, with a brace at the Emirates contributing to the twelve goals that have made him the league’s top scorer this season. With Swansea likely to start with four players who will be happy to break behind the defence, Steven Caulker and company will have to ensure their offside trap is spot on.
Emmanuel Adebayor vs Chico
Chico has been another outstanding signing for Laudrup this year, playing in the heart of Swansea’s impressive defence. One of the strengths of his game is putting the attacker under pressure and making interceptions to win the ball back for his side, but this can lead to him giving away fouls if he miss times his challenges. On his day, Emmanuel Adebayor is very accomplished at receiving and holding onto the ball, and as he showed against Manchester City earlier in the season, he can be an incredibly frustrating player to play against with the opposition committing plenty of fouls on the striker. If Chico can nick the ball off Adebayor regularly, he may be able to greatly hinder Spurs holding up the ball in the final third, but if the Togolese striker is on form, Spurs should be able to profit from some free kicks in dangerous areas.
Mousa Dembele & Sandro vs Ki Sung-Yueng & Leon Britton
Although Michu has taken the plaudits, Swansea made several other excellent signings in the summer, and Ki Sung-Yeung has proved a superb replacement for Joe Allen in the centre of their midfield. Everyone knows how Swansea play by now, with Britton and KI Sung-Yeung sitting at second and third in the midfielder rankings for pass completion, with 92.2% and 92.3% of their combined 1658 passes successful. But Mousa Dembele and Sandro are no slouches on the ball themselves, and also have the physical presence and tenacity to disrupt Swansea’s metronomic rhythm. If they can win ball back quickly, and not give it away cheaply themselves, they will be able to get on top of Swansea in the centre of the park.
Aaron Lennon vs Ben Davies
The young Swansea left back has been impressive throughout the season, and will need to be on top of his game again when facing Aaron Lennon on Sunday. The England winger has been in wonderful from at White Hart Lane, picking up a goal or an assist in each of his last three appearances at home. Davies has performed well in tough away matches already, but if Lennon is on song he can be unstoppable and Davies will need to ensure he doesn’t leave space behind him for Lennon to run into, and badger his midfield to track back so he isn’t left isolated.