Will international break prove a blessing or curse?

Posted by Dan Fitch

Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty ImagesSpurs hope Jermain Defoe's goals for England signal the start of a Premier League scoring streak.

OK, so where we? Before the international break came along and rudely interrupted us, Tottenham were busy blowing their season.

The Liverpool defeat was down to the absence of Aaron Lennon and individual errors. Spurs then escaped Inter Milan and into the quarterfinals of the Europa Leauge, losing the second leg 4-1 in a game they started without both Lennon and Gareth Bale. Neither defeat was pretty, but you could at least pinpoint explainable reasons for the losses.

Then came Fulham at home. It looked the perfect fixture to bounce back with a win. Instead, a very tired Tottenham side lost 1-0 in one of the worst performances of the season.

Only time will tell as to whether the international break came at the right time, or whether it would have been more beneficial to get back on the bike immediately following three losses on the bounce.

Playing Swansea away from home is a tough fixture. They have far less internationals than Spurs and the majority of their players will have been putting their feet up, while some of Tottenham's have played two games.

The chief concerns are Bale and Moussa Dembele. Bale is even more vital for Wales than he is for Spurs and he ran himself into the ground as the Welsh lost 2-1 to Croatia.

He had a quiet game against Fulham and you wonder how long he can keep up his impervious form without some type of burnout. It's not just the fact that Bale plays in practically every game for club and country. He also plays just about every minute of those games. Tottenham have rarely had an opportunity, where they’ve wrapped things up early and been able to take Bale off to give him a rest.

Then there’s Dembele, whose presence is so vital to the creativity in central midfield. He's struggled for fitness this season and started both of Belgium’s games over the last week. Like Bale, Dembele is a player that it is very difficult to rest right now.

Yet there's some players who might have benefited from the international break. It was a tossup as to whether Jermain Defoe or Emmanuel Adebayor were in the worse form in recent weeks. Defoe got back among the goals after a long barren spell while on duty with England.

They may have only been against San Marino, but we all know that Defoe is a streaky striker whose goals come in clusters. It would be a major boost to Tottenham if he could start scoring again. For too long the side has been overreliant on Bale and have at times effectively looked like they were playing with 10 men.

There are other players who were on target for their country. Glyfi Sigurdsson scored two great goals for Iceland against Slovenia, including a spectacular free-kick that was the equal to any struck by Bale this season. Iceland only played one game during the break, so Sigurdsson should be fresh and full of confidence as he faces his old club.

Clint Dempsey scored the winning goal for U.S. against Costa Rica in the snow. Dempsey always has a longer journey back from internationals than most, but his two games should have been beneficial as he attempts to regain match sharpness after a spell on the sidelines.

The American was starting to score with regularity before getting injured and again, he is a player who Spurs need to get back amongst the goals.

So will the break prove a blessing or a curse for Tottenham? There’s arguments for both. What we do know that the Swansea game is one that Spurs dare not lose and really could do with winning.

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