Tottenham demonstrate substance to go along with style

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Gareth Bale’s post-match interview told spectators more about Tottenham’s much needed 3-1 win over Swansea than usual on a warm Sunday evening at White Hart Lane than most offered over a fascinating weekend of Premier League football.


More often that not inane chats filled with anodyne cliché-ridden statements offering little insight, Bale gave a puff of the cheeks and a knowing laugh when asked how hard Tottenham had been forced to work in order to keep Brendan Rodgers’ slick Swansea side at bay.


"(It was) very hard," he chortled with the sweat of his exertions still fresh on his forehead. "The way they play the ball is just unbelievable. Full credit to them - they've been fantastic this season, but we showed our true class today. We showed what attacking prowess we've got and punished them when we could."


Lung-busting work was the key for Tottenham as goals from Rafael van der Vaart and brace from Emmanuel Adebayor earned boss Harry Redknapp a desperately needed win.


Spurs, after five games without the sweet taste of victory, were back in business and the relief, most notably when Adebayor got his side’s second goal, was palpable.


“We were just saying, me and Younes (Kaboul) - we're back now. We feel like we're playing well the last couple of games,” Bale said after a win that sent the top four race twisting and turning in yet another direction.


Bale, ably assisted by Adebayor, Sandro, Scott Parker and Van der Vaart, helped shut down and seize up the Swansea passing machine in a formidable first half performance that helped set up such a much-needed win.


Parker in particular, his shirt muddied and his breathing sharp and short, had given a game’s worth of effort inside 17 minutes as he harried and hassled whenever Swansea looked to work the ball forward from the back.


Time after time the England captain broke up play and released his team-mates to break at speed, releasing Luka Modric who should have either done better with his first-half effort or played a simple pass to Adebayor in space for what surely would have been the opening goal of the game.


While Swansea were ponderous in control of the lion's share of possession, Spurs pounced and moved the ball forward at speed, mostly through Bale who was enjoying space on the left gifted by Angel Rangel having spent recent months roving through the middle.


If the home side had jammed the gears of the well oiled machine they faced in the first half, somewhat inevitably when the tempo dropped in the second half, Swansea came to the fore and ground their opponents down.


Swansea edged forward, relieved by the gift of space in which they could breath and start to test Spurs, and almost took the lead through the magical right boot of Gylfi Sigurdsson only for Brad Friedel to roll back the years with a wonderful save.


When the equaliser did come, inevitably, through Siggurdsson, White Hart Lane drew a collective intake of breath with the weight of a five game winless streak having heavy on the Spurs faithful’s mind.


But they were not to be denied this time. Bale alluded to the fact that there was a feeling around the club that a corner had been turned after the 1-1 draw with Stoke, a notion that was further added to with the creditable draw with Chelsea last weekend.


With Adebayor’s first and Tottenham’s second came the outpouring of relief that follows after such a tough run that had helped hand Arsenal the advantage in the top four.


Sandro, freshly substituted after working his way through a mountain of work, leapt off the bench when Adebayor’s towering header hit the back of the net; Redknapp was out of his seat and fist pumping in a manner not seen at the Lane since the 5-0 win over Newcastle mid-way through February. It seems such a long time ago now.


The win, coupled with Arsenal’s surprise defeat, means there is all of a sudden plenty to smile about in the white half of north London.


With the five point gap to Chelsea and Newcastle maintained and third once more a possibility, there is now a feeling of optimism around White Hart Lane after such a torrid run.


Redknapp believes that five wins will secure Champions League football while an FA Cup semi-final tie against Chelsea offers the chance to further of a glorious end to a tumultuous season.


The top four race has lurched once more and there remains all to play for, but Tottenham have truly emerged from their slump that threatened to derail a campaign so full of promise before Christmas.


For all Tottenham have been praised for their fluidity and style, hard work was the key to victory against Swansea and if they can maintain their pressing in their final games of the season in what appears an easier run in than their rivals than a top three spot is surely the goal.


First Arsenal’s resurgence came. Then Chelsea got back on track thanks to the arrival of Roberto di Matteo. Now Tottenham are back in the game and looking as sharp as ever. The race, with so much at stake, is well and truly on.

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Tottenham Hotspur
Premier League
Gareth Bale
Swansea City

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