Swansea 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
We went to Swansea. Having given up six buffer points away to Liverpool and at home to Fulham, we simply had to win. With Everton, Chelsea and City up next, we simply had to win. We won. Three HUGE points. We've remounted momentum. Now we have to ride her senseless. No premature ejaculation. Trantic Tottenham is required to last the distance.
Talking of sex, just how deliciously decadent was the finishing? Two slices of heaven dished out on a Lilywhite plate, assisted and scored in partnership twice by Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale in reverse combination. Enough to make your head dizzy as parts of it shut down due to excessive releases of serotonin.
The first saw the classy Jan with ball, playing it to Bale then continuing with his run forward with the Welsh wizard then sending the ball over Swansea's defence where Jan accepted with sublime control to take down the lifted pass then punch the ball towards goal with foot, past the already beaten Vorm. Can we extend the one-man team tag to two?
The second goal still has me attempting to wrap myself around the crazy computer generated imagery of Bale's insane Messiesque quick turning touch and shot with a spin to see us once more beat Vorm. Astonishing technique. Jan returning favour to Bale with the assist for this one. Football is about moments, right? You and I won't be forgetting these two for a very long time.
Twenty or so minutes gone and the game looked done and dusted. No signs of Michael Laudrup's predicted FIFA virus. We looked sharp and urgent. No sign of complacency or a dangerous lethargic mind-set. Yet. However, there was still the odd scratch of the head thrown in just for the sake of balance.
In-between the two goals Emmanuel Adebayor had a wonderful opportunity to score. Dembele setting him on his way only to release a weak shot at goal (and the keeper). <insert any of the strikers we've been linked to> would have scored that.
Ade too shy to smash it in. He needs a goal (obviously). But not just any goal. Not a tap in. He needs one of those confidence-boosting efforts drenched in epic net-busting tradition. His general play in the first half, even if it doesn't avoid the usual scapegoating criticism, is pivotal to the team's (attempted) cohesiveness. He comes deep, he works the channels and he allows us to move forward without stagnation because of his natural ability to link up with the midfield and bring them into play. No Ade no shape. When he does get into goal scoring positions, he doesn't take advantage.
His influence wasn't evident in the second half and was replaced by Jermain Defoe, who demonstrated just how under-rated Adebayor is by only touching the ball eleven times. You see JD and you think 'lash one in'. But enough about his off-field exploits in Faces, he's struggled to produce the goods as convincingly as his shouting/complaining when he doesn't receive the ball from a team-mate (even when his positioning at times doesn't deserve the pass).
Both strikers, sadly, lacking in form and have had widely erratic seasons. Almost feels like we're competing without a necessary part to the engine. But then that has applied to a fair few recent seasons in terms of our failing attacking prowess from positions where you would expect most of our goals to come from.
Swansea treated us to a few moments in the first half (those head scratches). Michu heading wide. Tiendalli effort saved by Friedel interjected by more Bale technique at the other end. Then Dyer struck the woodwork with a header that saw the ball strike him on the rebound before going out. Lady luck positively fluttering her eyelids at us before pulling our trousers down with purpose rather than the usual calculated humiliation.
The other scratches of head included the left-hand side where Naughton and Sigurdsson struggled to defend (a case of not much support for Naughton at the back) and that reoccurring frustration that possession becomes a struggle after going 2-0 up (allowing the hosts to slowly slowly gain the momentum). When the half ended, I found myself thinking (in Roy Scheider voice) "We're gonna need a bigger scoreline".
The second half consisted of the traditional 'The Spurs way is the hard way is the only way' template that ye olde faithful depend on so that we can recognise our team and not get too confused.
A clever quickly taken free-kick on the edge of the box saw Michu in with a chance but Friedel equal to it. Down the other end Lennon was lively and Siggy equal with effort, cutting inside and curling a shot towards the far corner where Vorm saved and Bale failed to follow up. Then back to Swansea for the next one, Tiendalli crossing and Michu getting the better of Dawson (something he did quite often in the game) but heading wide again.
The left hand side still an issue for us and an advantage for Swansea. Adebayor was replaced by Defoe. As previously cited, Ade worked hard but it always feels like he's turned up with a box of fireworks but doesn't take them outside and light them up. Just carries it on his back and lets it weigh him down.
The inevitable home goal came in the 71st minute. Michu with a header from a corner, in off the post. Wasn't going to miss a third time. At this point we we're officially in Spurs Time.
Bale had another one of those storming length of field runs, his shot the wrong side of the post. Holtby came on to provide some composure, retention but also quick pace passing. Some renewed energy in the middle to match Swansea's belief.
Michu should have been sent off. Probably. The Spaniard doing his best to win the 'p*ick of the week' accolade with plenty of handbag dramatics. If he wasn't diving he was leading with elbow/head, lame-punching and holding his face.
Tiendalli continued to prove a handful. Biggest concern is that we struggle to retain possession and break up play. A continued consequence of losing Sandro meaning it's a little too untidy at times. But again (BROKEN RECORD KLAXON) this is testament to the importance of having a player in the middle of the park that can dictate and recycle the ball effectively. We have good players but as a unit we love to invite the opposing team on. Add to it the weakness with that left hand side and it was no wonder Swansea (with their good flowing football) we're in with a chance for a point.
Defoe had an effort (equally lame as Adebayor's first half miss). Then in the final minute before the five added extra, Gareth Bale blocked from Dyer with a monumental piece of defending every bit as emphatic as his 'winning' goal. In the final minute of the added extra, Bale once more attacked the Swansea pen area and Vorm making sure the score remained at 2-1. Which was how it finished.
Mental strength. Luck. Brilliance. Hard fought. Swansea we're no mugs but we refused to be mugged off. Chelsea lost, 3rd place regained. Once more, Spurs under Andre Villas-Boas refuse to allow a blip to turn into a crisis. Although I think he'll admit to the mistake (privately) of bringing on JD (probably to 'find' that important third goal) to the detriment of our possession play.
This season we have always, always, dug deep and found a way to rejuvenate ourselves. Considering we have no forwards, one major injury, no cover for right-back (Kaboul back in training), haven't replaced Luka or Rafa's influence but still we sit in a CL position. You have to allow the harsh reality that all of this is far more difficult than you would care to admit. Even though expectations change from the start of the season as the season progresses, there is no entitlement. It has to be earned and only then will it be deserved.
Overall, a good away performance, yet another win on our travels. First side to do the double over Swansea this season. The home side applied the pressure, especially in the second forty-five, but we held it together.
Brad decent between the sticks, what with Lloris not travelling and the return of the excellent Lennon who restores balance to the Facere, in offensive and defensive positions. Hugo 'okay' (knee knock) according to Spurs Official. Still laughing at the ITK pre-match that churned out rumours about a broken arm - the best one being that Adebayor broke it during training.
Walker was caught out far too often. Dawson struggled at times to deal with Michu. Naughton did okay considering that much maligned lack of support on the left flank. Dembele and Siggy quiet. Would like to see more of Holtby (earlier in games). Parker provided us with ample fight in the middle (need to apply super-glue to his boots when with ball at feet). Adebayor decent in first half, faded in second. Defoe meh. Vert and Bale sexually outstanding.
Europa League now sandwiched in amongst the most imperative sequence of league games of the season. Basel. Everton. Basel. Chelsea. City. Come through this unscathed and...well, best I don't say it out loud.