Andre Villas-Boas is sure Tottenham will stop conceding the late goals that have hindered their assault on the top four of the Premier League this season.
Tottenham's inability to see games out reared its head again at Everton last weekend as Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic struck in the final two minutes to give the Toffees a 2-1 win. Spurs have conceded 13 goals in the last 15 minutes of their 24 games this season. Had their games finished at 80 minutes, they would be top of the table.
Villas-Boas, whose side dropped to fifth after the Everton defeat, is frustrated by the problem, but insists it will be resolved. "I went through a similar situation before and it goes away through time, through practice, through experience," said Villas-Boas. "In these last moments of a game a lot of things are happening to us, and we want to shut it out. We have to incentivise the players on the positives, recognising there is things we can do better, but trying to revert what is a negative statistic."
Tottenham's defending on the whole has been an issue for the Portuguese throughout the campaign. Outside of the bottom three, only Southampton and Fulham have conceded more goals this season. Tottenham have only kept two clean sheets this term and Villas-Boas also wants that to change.
"We want to avoid suffering so many goals," the 35-year-old said. "It's very difficult to fall low in terms of goals conceded. We want to improve the goal difference because it's decisive. It's something we recognise and want to correct."
Tottenham's defence will face yet another test of strength today when they line up against one of the most feared strikers in the top flight. Hardly anyone had heard of Michu before he signed from Rayo Vallecano in the summer, but now he is regarded as one of the most clinical strikers in the division after bagging 12 goals to move to the top of the scoring charts.
Michael Laudrup paid just £2m for the striker and Villas-Boas thinks the Swans boss pulled off a real coup by landing the player for such a small price. "I think he has pulled off one of the biggest transfers of the summer," said Villas-Boas. "It's always very hard when you first come to the Premier League, but he has adapted very quickly. He is a tremendous goal-scorer."
Two late strikes from Emmanuel Adebayor gave Tottenham the spoils in the same encounter last season. An excellent performance from Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored Swansea's only goal in their 3-1 defeat, persuaded Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to step up his interest in the forward.
Spurs signed Sigurdsson for £6.5m in the summer, shortly after Villas-Boas arrived at the club. The Iceland international struggled at Tottenham at the start of the season, but he showed a glimpse of his former self at Goodison Park last week, narrowly missing out on a goal.
A lot has changed at Swansea since the forward's loan spell at the Welsh club came to an end, but he is still looking forward to facing his former employers.
"They have added quite a few new faces to the squad since last season and have obviously changed the manager, but they continue to do well. It will be strange to play against them, but I'm looking forward to it."
Tottenham v Swansea
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