Tim Sherwood’s squad selection had become stale and somewhat predictable. A 4-4-2 with an attacking bent was the general trend his first several matches in charge of Tottenham Hotspur. But in this match, Spurs set up in a 4-2-3-1 with the two out-and-out wingers complementing the attacking influence of Christian Eriksen in the center of the attacking midfield line. Youngster Nabil Bentaleb was once again effective in a holding role as Spurs defeated Swansea 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
Facing a side that keeps the ball as well as Swansea does, Sherwood realized he needed a team on the pitch that could counter quickly and break up midfield play without the ball. When in the attack, Eriksen showed an ability to push into wide positions to start plays and to link up well with the defense.
While the formation initially had some difficult with the Swans controlling the first twenty minutes or so of play, once Spurs broke through in minute 35, the match was essentially over. From that point forward Tottenham defended with ease and the midfield controlled the game. Bentalab recorded a club season best eleven tackles from open play while Moussa Dembele’s influence grew as the match wore on.
Tottenham were also helped by an early second-half injury to Jonjo Shelvey, the only creative force Swansea had all day in the midfield. Sherwood kept his side playing compact and breaking on the counter, which led to several more Tottenham chances, and two more goals.
Sherwood has yet to obtain all his necessary coaching badges to manage at this level and has been thought to be tactically naïve. But on Sunday, Sherwood showed a great deal of growth and maturity as a manager. The tests get tougher for Tottenham in the league beginning a week from Wednesday against high-flying Manchester City at White Hart Lane. But Sherwood has proven he can manage at this level and he has a side that was suffering a crisis of confidence in great shape to potentially snatch the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Not bad for a month’s work.
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