After Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League group stage opener, there was a feeling amongst Lilywhites supporters that their struggles at the national stadium were well and truly behind them.
They were wrong. Despite dominating large periods of the game, Spurs simply couldn’t break down a resolute Swans defence and the closest they came to a goal was when Son Heung-min and Harry Kane both hit the woodwork in a crazy 10-second spell.
Spurs 0-0 Swansea FT:
Chances created: 18-1
Frustrating evening for Spurs. pic.twitter.com/EE7N3bDfTU
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 16, 2017
But who stood out and who failed to impress? Take a look at the winners and losers as Tottenham are held at home once again…
Conceding eight goals in the two meeting with Spurs last season meant the visitors simply had to defend much better if they were to leave Wembley with at least a point. The did exactly that and thanks in part to a real leader’s performance by the Swans captain.
Fernandez was truly immense in central defence, making a total of 18 clearances as the visitors came under pressure, won 63% of aerial duels and made a couple of important blocks to ensure his side came away with a clean sheet.
Having netted 23 goals in the Championship last season in a Bristol City shirt, Abraham has been challenged to prove he can cut it in the top flight of English football with this loan move to the Liberty Stadium.
So far he’s done ok. A goal against Crystal Palace means the pressure of getting off the mark has already been lifted and he was named as the club’s player of the month for August – an award voted for by the supporters.
Against Spurs this evening he faced arguably his biggest test as a Premier League player as he lead the line with Jordan Ayew in support and found himself trying to get the best of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen.
Tammy Abraham's game by numbers vs. Spurs:
3 aerial duels won
2 fouls suffered
1 tackle won
Battling performance. pic.twitter.com/cYOc5qMqWJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 16, 2017
To his credit, he fared extremely well. Using his strength to shield the ball and help relieve some pressure, was a dominating presence in the air by winning 75% of headed duels, helped out defensive with four clearances and proved he’s more than just a target man by completing three take-ons.
Tammy Abraham is the real deal!
— Charlie Sutton (@sutts109) September 16, 2017
Tammy Abraham is Wayyy ahead of Batshuayi
— #10 (@Paulspacc) September 16, 2017
Tammy Abraham has super quick feet, if only Swansea could defend without having 10 men behind the ball.
— William Sagliano (@saglianow) September 16, 2017
Tammy Abraham has had a good game uptill now. He's only 19
— Haider Javed (@Tha_MadHatter) September 16, 2017
@tammyabraham hold-up-play ?
— james farmer (@bigpoppaganush) September 16, 2017
Matching Spurs’ formation and going three at the back was key to this result. By deploying Fernandez in the middle alongside Mike van der Hoorn and Alfie Mawson helped to negate the home side’s biggest weapon – keeping the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane quiet by forcing crosses into the box.
The Lilywhites were blocked off in the central areas and in turn attempted 43 crosses, most of which were cleared away by one of the Swans’ defensive trio as between them they won 50% of aerial duels, won 33% of tackles and committed just two fouls.
It was an impressive tactical gameplan from Clement as the Spurs attacking trio had relatively little impact on proceedings and it’s now three successive clean sheets in as many away games at the start of the new season.
If taking a free-kick off Christian Eriksen wasn’t bad enough, the England international’s decision making at times was frustrating. With the Swans happy to sit deep and soak up the pressure, Dier saw a lot of the ball.
Problem was he didn’t do much with it. Recorded an average pass accuracy of 90% but failed to create a single chance and didn’t even attempt to push forward and open up different angles to help his side break down City.
The Portugal international has arrived in England on a season-long loan deal from Bayern Munich with a huge reputation to restore having failed to set the world alight in his debut year with the Bundesliga giants.
Lets not forget this is a midfielder with bags of talent and undoubted potential. His exploits at the European Championships last summer saw him crowned young player of the tournament but at the moment his looks a shadow of that player.
He was marginally better this evening than on his debut against Newcastle United last weekend – although that’s not saying much. Completed 5/6 take-ons and then got the next part wrong more often that not. Just needs to simplify his game.
Much is expected of the 21-year-old following two successive stand out seasons following his move from MK Dons. He’s begun the campaign with two goals in four Premier League appearances, but he’s not quite hit top form.
Recalled to the starting XI having been suspended against Dortmund, Alli was out of sorts against the Swans. Despite creating four chances, he completed just one out of four attempted take-ons and bizarrely looked short of confidence in front of goal.
The one moment that summed up his game came in the second half where he completely messed up a free header from inside the area – last season that would have flown in the back of the net and he’d have been the hero.