Two matches, two penalties, two goals, six points for Spurs in the early Premier League season.
Once again a spot kick from Roberto Soldado proved the only scoring as Tottenham topped Swansea 1-0 at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Spurs were awarded a penalty after Jonjo Shelvey was whistled for a foul in the 18-yard box on winger Andros Townsend ten minutes into the second half. It looked to be a questionable foul and perhaps a make-up call. Shelvey had fouled Townsend just before halftime but, although replays would confirm the foul had occurred inside the box, Spurs were awarded a free kick just outside.
Following the penalty that was called, Soldado went to the right and found the net behind keeper Michel Worm.
Townsend, a 22-year-old product of the Spurs Academy, had been loaned out to other clubs nine times since 2009, most recently in January to Queens Park Rangers and former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. While that loan spell denied Spurs crucial cover for starting winger Aaron Lennon down the stretch last season, it seems to have paid long-term benefits. Unable to get a starting nod on the same squad with the English international Lennon on the right and the emerging legend of Gareth Bale on the left, Townsend stepped into the starting XI at QPR and showed he had promise as a productive top-flight player.
Now back with his parent club, Townsend was offered a rare start by manager Andre Villas-Boas for Spurs' Europa League contest against Dinamo Tbilisi last week as Lennon recovered from an injury. The 22-year-old winger responded with a coming-out party that might have reminded some of Gareth Bale's fabled performances against Inter Milan in the Champions League three years ago--scoring a Bale-esque goal out of nothing on a dash down the middle and assisting on goals from Paulinho, his first for Tottenham, and Soldado. It was a nice moment for Townsend, who had served a one-month suspension from football activities earlier this summer for a gambling infraction.
Eastern European nights are one thing; the Barclays is another. Fresh off his San Siro Lite performance, Townsend was given another start today with Lennon once again out of the squad. Spurs lacked some width without Lennon, but Townsend, a left-footed attacker, showed a knack for cutting inside and caused trouble in the Swans' 18-yard box -- something that Lennon perhaps could do more of with his considerable speed and quickness.
Since the Welsh side's promotion to the Premier League two seasons ago, Swansea have shown a smart passing game under managers Brendan Rodgers and, now, Michael Ladrup. But they offered little attack today. Their star Michu was a virtual non-presence, and they kept their promising new striker Wilfried Bony on the bench until the second half. Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris was only really challenged once or twice as Paulinho and Etienne Capoue bossed the midfield for Tottenham. Paulinho is most deserving of Man of the Match honors for his box-to-box play today, but Townsend deserves special mention for capping his memorable week with a productive start.
Without Bale or a Bale replacement -- which might or might not come in the form of Erik Lamela but definitely not in Willian -- Spurs have yet to score a league goal in open play this season. Belgian midfielder Moussa Dembele was solid today but did not offer enough going forward, and neither did Gylfi Sigurdsson when he came on for him. Dembele, a must-starter for Spurs when healthy last season, suddenly finds himself in a crowded midfield with the newly acquired Paulinho and Capoue and the newly recovered Sandro, who subbed in late to make his first league appearance since his devastating knee injury in January. The Tottenham attack is still a work in progress, something the club hopes to solve with at least one more piece in the puzzle before the transfer window closes on September 2.
In the meantime, Spurs have a chance to rotate their squad -- hello, Lewis Holtby and Tom Carroll -- for their next match as they head into Thursday's Europa League match against Tbilisi up 5-0 on aggregate... followed by a little thing called the North London Derby next Sunday.