Football comes thick and fast in these initial months of the season, which is generally appreciated by fans, players, and clubs alike. For some, like Arsenal and Sadio Mane, it provides an opportunity to put horror performances behind them, while for others it provides an opportunity to keep their run going. For Tottenham, a Saturday night home game against Swansea gives them a chance to ascertain that they have indeed laid their Wembley woes to rest.
Borussia Dortmund were visiting on Wednesday and many a Tottenham fan would have imagined a fate similar to what AS Monaco inflicted upon Spurs last season. Wembley has been a jinxed venue for Pochettino’s men and they needed a good solid victory to break out of the hoodoo. They promptly dispatched the Germans 3-1. There were no late tremors such as the ones against Burnley and Chelsea Spurs had finally won their third game at Wembley after it was rebuilt. But, perhaps to gain the same confidence that White Hart Lane inspired in Spurs, they will need to continue to win at their new home. On paper, they have a few easy home games coming up – Swansea, Barnsley and Bournemouth, before they host Liverpool and Real Madrid. These three games present a great opportunity for Spurs to shut all talk of Wembley woes and Pochettino will be itching for his players to set this right.
Swansea do not have any such hoodoos. They have had a mixed start to the season including a victory against Crystal Palace and a draw against Southampton, joined by a heavy defeat to Manchester United and a narrow one to Newcastle. The high-profile arrival of Renato Sanches was supposed to lift the team up after the exits of Sigurdsson and Llorente. But he did not shine through in the game against Newcastle last weekend. Paul Clement will need his defence to be resolute while hoping to steal a point against the mighty Spurs.
Pochettino has no new injury concerns, though he still remains without Erik Lamela, Danny Rose, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Victor Wanyama. Dele Alli comes into the Saturday match having been rested on Wednesday night due to suspension. While Serge Aurier impressed against Dortmund, he might be replaced by Kieran Trippier for Saturday’s game.
Swansea are without injured trio Ki Sung-yueng, Nathan Dyer and Kyle Bartley, the latter of whom has now been ruled out for the next three months. Both Leon Britton and Wilfried Bony are pushing for starting positions but both might end up as substitutes on Saturday.
- Tottenham have won 10 of their last 11 meetings with Swansea, scoring at least two goals in the last seven of those. In fact, Swansea have never beaten Spurs in 12 Premier League encounters.
- Pochettino’s men have still failed to keep a clean sheet in 11-successive matches at Wembley, which is counter-intuitive for a team that kept the opposition out 17 times last term.
- After again not being able to score a single league goal in August, Harry Kane has scored four in two matches.
- Swansea’s new star Renato Sanches was dispossessed 23 times during their match with Newcastle last weekend. He could not complete a single cross or a key pass either.
Harry Kane did not have a great August. But he is having a tremendous September already. In addition to the four club goals mentioned above, he also scored a brace for England in the international break. Being supported by the assist machine named Eriksen and the excellent Dele Alli, Kane does not need to worry about getting adequate deliveries. As his xG value of 3.19 (actual goals – 2) and xG per 90 minutes of 0.80 goals suggests, he is getting into great positions and he is just unlucky not to have scored more goals thus far in the league.
For Swansea, the ideal strategy to counter Spurs on Saturday would be to instil a resoluteness in their defence. But if they are to take even a single point away from Wembley, they will need to score. In that aspect, the biggest threat has come from Tammy Abraham. The Chelsea loanee has only one goal to show for it, but like Kane, he has been taking up great positions in the box whenever he has had an opportunity. His xG of 1.43 and xG per 90 of 0.38 point to a few more goals in his bag. He needs to get on the goal sheet if Paul Clement’s men plan to take a point or three from Wembley.
It is ironic that the team that had the best home record in the league last season has a hoodoo about playing at their new home this season. But, now that Pochettino’s men have tasted victory at Wembley, I feel that they will be hard to stop. Tottenham’s attack is in a great form for Swansea to stop them and their defense is good enough to deal with anything that Swansea throw at them. Victory should come easily to Spurs on Saturday.
Tottenham 3 – 0 Swansea