Spurs stutter worries Van der Vaart
Swansea City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
The Liberty Stadium
Monday 02 January 2012
Tottenham Hotspur are not the first team to drop points at the Liberty Stadium and won't be the last, but Rafael van der Vaart knows this was a major missed opportunity nonetheless on a weekend of surprises.
Spurs arrived in Swansea on the back of a run of form that had propelled them back into the title race but allowed the chance to close the gap on Manchester United to slip through their grasp.
While those around them were being beaten at home, Tottenham took a fortuitous lead at the meanest stadium in the Premier League, through Van der Vaart, only to concede six minutes from time. However with four of their next five league games in January to be played at White Hart Lane, starting against West Brom tomorrow, the Dutchman remains confident they can still mount a challenge to the Manchester pair, City and United.
Van der Vaart said: "We can play much better than we did here. That is why I am disappointed, especially with the other results. This was a missed opportunity. We needed to win and then the competition was wide open but it still wasn't a bad day with Chelsea and Man United losing. We can still catch them. Anything can happen but we have to win our games.
"A lot of it is in the head. We are still a young team and have the squad to win the title but we don't have the experience Man United has. Man City have too many good players, so they're going to be at the top of the table for sure."
Swansea, who remain 14th, were well worth their point and had they possessed a touch of class in attack would surely have taken more.
Brendan Rodgers' side have refused to abandon their style of passing the ball from one goal to the other, admired as "a little Dutch" by Van der Vaart, which threatened to strangle the attacking life out of Spurs.
Such was Tottenham's sheer frustration that Gareth Bale, usually a hero in these parts, was booked for diving in the first half, though manager Harry Redknapp insisted the Welsh flyer was not a cheat, saying: "Diving has never been in his [Bale's] game. Sometimes people get booked for diving when they don't dive. He gets kicked regularly so he's not one for diving."
It took two deflections for Spurs to open the scoring against the run of play on the stroke of half-time. Joe Allen steered Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross into the path of Van der Vaart, whose shot beat Michel Vorm, courtesy of Ashley Williams' midriff.
Swansea have found goals hard to come by, but were finally rewarded for their endeavor when Scott Sinclair pounced on Brad Friedel's mistake, moments after his effort was cleared off the line by Luka Modric.
Swansea must now start to improve their away form, starting today at Aston Villa. Defender Neil Taylor said: "Against a team like Tottenham, you have to be pleased with a point but we deserved three. That was one of our best performances at home this season. Home form is critical in this league but now we have to look for that first away win. Plenty of teams are picking up results everywhere, so it's up to us to look after ourselves.
"We aimed for 20 points by the end of the year, so we're bang on target."
Scorers: Swansea City Sinclair 84. Tottenham Hotspur Van der Vaart 44.
Substitutes: Swansea Rangel 7 (Richards, h-t), Agustien 7 (Gower, 62), Graham 7 (Moore, 69). Tottenham Defoe (Van der Vaart, 72), Livermore (Parker, 72). Booked: Swansea Richards. Tottenham Bale, Livermore. Man of the match Williams. Match rating 8/10. Possession: Swansea 56% Tottenham 44%.
Attempts on target: Swansea 8 Tottenham 7. Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire). Attendance 20,393.
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