Swansea City-Tottenham Hotspur Preview
Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to establish themselves as Premier League title challengers Sunday when they host Swansea City at White Hart Lane.
Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs have won five straight in the league, including a superb 2-1 away win over Manchester City at the Etihad, and are in the running for their first league title in over 50 years.
A 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend was a rare blip in an otherwise outstanding season for the north London club, but they bounced back in impressive fashion with a 3-0 Europa League win over Fiorentina on Thursday for a 4-1 two-leg aggregate victory to comfortably progress to the last 16 of the competition – where they will face German giants Borussia Dortmund.
Sunday's visit of Swansea is the start of a big week of Premier League action for Tottenham (14-9-3), with back-to-back London derbies against top-six squads West Ham United and Arsenal coming up, but central midfielder Eric Dier believes the squad will be able to cope with the crunch matches arriving thick and fast.
"We've had a lot of weeks like this so we're used to it," the England international said. "It's always nice to get a good win going into those three games. Winning is obviously better than losing in any situation, so it puts us in a nice position going into the league now.
"It's the Premier League – what are there, 12 games left? There's going to be lots of twists and turns. I don't think next week is going to determine anything. We'll take it one game at a time. We're just looking at Sunday and we'll move on from there."
Harry Kane is the Lilywhites' only recognised striker and missed the win over Fiorentina with a broken nose, but the England centre-forward is expected to return for this contest. Kane has scored 15 goals in his last 17 league appearances for Spurs, who are two points behind front-running Leicester City.
However Mousa Dembele, who has been a revelation in central midfield for Spurs this season, is struggling with a groin injury and unlikely to feature. Jan Vertonghen and Clinton N'Jie remain unavailable due to knee injuries.
Sunday's visitors Swansea City (6-9-11) are in need of a win. Francesco Guidolin's side have not won in three matches and have slipped perilously close to the relegation zone, entering this weekend in 16th place and three points clear of the drop.
The much-improved form of the ex-Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson has been the lone high point in a difficult month for the Swans, but his goal-scoring contributions have at least given the Swans some hope of avoiding an unexpected return to the second tier of English football.
Swansea have never beaten Spurs in nine Premier League meetings - drawing two and losing the remaining seven - but assistant coach Alan Curtis is hoping for a shock result.
"We haven't beaten them in the league during our five years in the Premier League, but this season results have been so unpredictable that it goes to show there's no reason we can't get a result," Curtis said. "Spurs will be a tough game. They're a very good side. Pochettino put together a really good side at Southampton and has followed that up at Spurs.
"He's done a fantastic job and has a great squad of players, and I don't see why they can't win the title. They've shown that they can go all the way and it wouldn't surprise me if they did."
Three points for the north London side would give them their biggest points haul at the 27-game stage in the Premier League, trumping their 53 points from the 2011-12 campaign.
Spurs have recovered more points (14) from losing positions, have recorded more shots on target (170), and have allowed fewer attempts on their own goal (77) than any other team in the English top-flight this season.