Tottenham 1 Swansea 0
A Gareth Bale-less Tottenham may so far lack the excitement the Wales midfielder so often brought to last year’s campaign, but Roberto Soldado’s composure from 12 yards again ensured Andre Villas-Boas’s side have made a steady, if understated, start this time around.
Bale was in Madrid yesterday while his current team-mates were recording a second successive single-goal victory, secured courtesy of a Soldado penalty. The Welshman’s lingering presence at White Hart Lane continues to overshadow Spurs’ first steps in the new season and while Andre Villas-Boas again played his cards close to his chest, he gave a clear sign he expects the saga to be over soon.
"There is interest from Real Madrid. Whether the transfer will happen or not, hopefully you will have more news in the next couple of days but at the moment there is nothing I can tell you," said the manager.
"We allowed him two days off. It’s not the first time this has come up. We never force non-selected players to come to our games. I decided that last season. I have another player two days off and he was not here."
Villas-Boas denied Bale had trained with the Spanish club, and insisted he expected to see the player back in London tomorrow although he may have been speaking more in hope, rather than expectation. "Tomorrow is a day off," he said. "Tuesday is training so I would expect him to be there."
Understandably he preferred to focus on the efforts of the players who were on his team sheet, and with good reason.
This was a steady, if unspectacular performance, illuminated by an impressive performance from Andros Townsend, the 22-year-old who showed a willingness to run at defenders and shoot from distance with an enthusiasm that offered another reminder of Bale.
Soldado’s goal, added to the two he scored against Dinamo Tiblisi midweek, means the Spaniard has now struck four in three games since his £26m move from Valencia and in midfield, Etienne Capoue and Paulinho offered an impressive barrier that prevented Swansea from developing their familiar passing game.
Villas-Boas expects more new faces to come in with Steaua Bucharest centre-back Vlad Chiriche close to completing an £8m move.
It looked as though Spurs would face a frustrating afternoon when Swansea keeper Michel Vorm performed heroics during the first half, saving from Paulinho and Moussa Dembele, before the home side were denied a clear penalty when Jonjo Shelvey was wrongly adjudged to have fouled Townsend outside the area.
Eleven minutes into the second half, the balance was redressed when Shelvey again challenged with Townsend. This time the contact looked less clear-cut, but the penalty was given and Soldado converted with ease.
"I don’t want to say it’s frustrating, you have to accept it," said Michael Laudrup, the Swnasea manager. "You can always discuss the penalty but it’s given and they scored and they won."
After the opening day defeat by Manchester United, Laudrup knows his side need a lift and will step up his efforts to sign West Brom’s Peter Odemwingie this week.
"He’s a player with pace who knows the league but there will be more links and the closer we come to deadline, there will be more rumours with our club and others," he said.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7, Walker 7, Dawson 8, Vertonghen 7, Rose 7, Paulinho 7, Capoue 8, Townsend 9 (Sandro 87,6), Dembele 5 (Sigurdsson 64, 6), Chadli 6, Soldado 7 (Defoe 80, 6).
SWANSEA: Vorm 8, Rangel 7, Flores 8, Williams 7, Davies 5, De Guzman 6, Canas 7, Hernandez 6, Shelvey 5 (Bony 69, 6), Routledge 5 (Pozuelo 59, 6), Michu 6.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.