Tottenham Hotspur are favourite to progress when they travel to Wales to take on Swansea City in their FA Cup quarter final at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (12:15 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Spurs are one of the most successful teams in the history of the FA Cup, having won the competition on eight occasions, but it is necessary to go all the way back to 1991 to find the last time they lifted the trophy. Their last trophy of any kind came in 2008 – 10 years ago.
That is a stick that their coach, Mauricio Pochettino, has been somewhat unfairly beaten with. He has done excellent work since taking over in 2014, improving both individuals and the collective en route to two consecutive top-three finishes. Given the resources available to his rivals that is, in of itself, an impressive achievement. He also oversaw a series of strong performances in this season’s Champions League.
It was Tottenham’s recent elimination from that competition at the hands of Juventus that brought about the latest round of commentary about their lack of silverware. While Pochettino is unlikely to be unduly bothered, this season’s FA Cup does look to offer a viable route to a trophy, especially given that Liverpool and Manchester City have already been eliminated.
Strong form since the turn of the year has seen Spurs move up to third in the Premier League, with a five-point gap to Chelsea (who they meet on 1st April) in the first non-Champions League qualifying position. With their participation in European competition now ended, there is a chance to have a good go at winning the FA Cup. The top bookmakers agree, as Spurs are now joint-favourites in the FA Cup outright winner betting.
Pochettino has generally rotated his starting XI in the competition. Spurs overcame Wimbledon in the third round but then required replays to see off Notts County and Rochdale in the following rounds. With Harry Kane out injured, ex-Swansea striker Fernando Llorente is among the options to start up front on Saturday, although the in-form Heung-Min Son is more likely to do so.
Like Spurs, Swansea are yet to face a fellow top-flight side in this year’s FA Cup. They have required replays to progress past Wolverhampton Wanderers, Notts County and Sheffield Wednesday to reach the last eight of the competition for the first time since 1964.
Those triumphs were part of the clear improvement in performances and results since Carlos Carvalhal replaced Paul Clement as head coach in late December. When he took over, the Swans were bottom of the table, five points adrift of safety, having picked up just 0.65 points per match. Now they are 14th, four clear of the bottom three, having won five, drawn three and lost two in their subsequent fixtures – an average of 1.8 points per match. They are now 4/1 in the Premier League relegation odds, with six teams deemed more likely for the drop.
Gains have been made at both ends of the pitch. Under Clement, Swansea had the worst attack in the league and one of its worst defences. Both aspects have improved appreciably under Carvalhal, and even though the underlying statistics suggest some regression should be expected, that improvement has given Swansea a very solid chance of avoiding relegation.
Whether that can be allied to a surprise FA Cup success remains to be seen. Swansea have recorded home wins over Liverpool and Arsenal since Carvalhal took over, while the Portuguese coach also caused a surprise in his time at Sheffield Wednesday by knocking Arsenal out of the League Cup. His side have a degree of momentum behind them.
It was Spurs who emerged victorious when these sides met at the Liberty Stadium at the start of January, with Llorente opening the scoring against his former club, and with Jordan Ayew, scorer of six goals under Carvalhal, suspended, his brother Andre Ayew cup-tied and Wilfried Bony injured, Swansea are short on attacking options for Saturday’s match.
With the international break coming up, there is no reason for Spurs to rest their normal starters this weekend. Even with Kane out injured, they have enough quality to see off Swansea and progress to the final four of the FA Cup for the second consecutive season.
Our Preview’s Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
Here are this Swansea vs Spurs preview’s betting tips at the pick of the odds: