x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Swansea pay Premier League penalty against Tottenham in 1-0 defeat

Tottenham have simply swapped games won through brilliance of Gareth Bale for games won through penalties, writes Jonathan Wilson.

Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kyle Walker, front, fires in a cross against Swansea City yesterday at White Hart Lane. Carl Court / AFP
Tottenham Hotspur right-back Kyle Walker, front, fires in a cross against Swansea City yesterday at White Hart Lane. Carl Court / AFP

LONDON // Two Premier League games and two 1-0 wins. Twice Tottenham Hotspur have dominated matches and twice they have needed penalties to win them. There is much to be admired about their play, but there must be a nagging doubt that this is the new world without Gareth Bale.

Tottenham have simply swapped games won through the brilliance of Bale for games won through penalties, but that would be to underplay how good they look this season so far.

There was a sense for much of the first half that a goal was coming, but as with Crystal Palace last week, they could not break through.

Paulinho, playing at the front of midfield, was twice denied by Michel Vorm, the second a stunning save away to the goalkeeper's left, while Mousa Dembele had an effort tipped over and Ashley Williams headed against his own post.

It had taken a penalty to see off Palace last week and Spurs should have had one just before half time as Andros Townsend was bundled over by Jonjo Shelvey just inside the box, only for the referee Nigel Swarbrick to decide the offence had happened outside it. Swansea did not make the most of the let-off. Eleven minutes after half-time, Townsend darted into the box, Shelvey stepped across him and this time Swarbrick did point to the spot - although contact appeared minimal.

Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, was adamant "it wasn't a penalty", although he conceded Spurs should have had a penalty in the first half. Roberto Soldado, having gone left against Palace went right this time, and Spurs had a deserved lead.

The Spaniard was quiet apart from that, and Spurs' main threat came through the combination of Kyle Walker and Townsend, in for the injured Aaron Lennon, down the right. "When he gets the ball," said Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas of Townsend, "he has one objective: to take on his man and beat his man. He's really adding to our game because he's a very explosive player."

He is likely to continue in Sunday's North London derby away to Arsenal with Lennon nursing a foot problem. Bale was given two days off and is in Madrid, presumably completing a world-record deal to join Real. The Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches should complete his move to Tottenham soon.

Only midway through the second half, when Chico Flores arrived unmarked at the back post to draw a save out of Hugo Lloris with a fierce volley, did Swansea really threaten. Laudrup admitted he would be looking to add a forward before the transfer period closes.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE