Looking Forward

 

ASTON VILLA (Away)

Premier League

Sunday 2nd May 2004

With Aston Villa transformed by David O'Deary and Juan Pablo Angel's renaissance, Tottenham will face a tough task on their visit to Villa Park on Sunday.  Although we still need a couple  of points to be mathematically safe, another point from this match will be a significant achievement.

With goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen in good form and living up to his reputation earned at Sunderland, before being shut out at Villa, before O'Deary arrived.  His defence has a good record this season too, with the strong presence of Olaf Mellberg proving an aerial winner of challenges, alongside the veteran, but stylish Ronnie Johnsen.  He may lack pace, but still reads the game well.  Wide of these two are Gareth Barry and JLloyd Samuel, who are young, attacking full backs, but they are not always concentrated on their positional play, so it can allow access behind them if Redknapp can ping a diagonal pass beyond them.  Welsh defender Mark Delaney has suffered some bad injuries and has missed a lot of this season and will be out until the new season now.

Temperamental young midfielder Lee Hendrie has been effective providing a nuisance presence for the opposition, but he can lose his rag very easily and rumours of his departure form the club have been mooted.  Norberto Solano also showed a flash of retaliation last week and got sent off against Middlesbrough, but this will be his last game of the season before his suspension for that offence begins.  A player who is good at dead ball situations and a perceptive passer of the ball, he can also be sidelined, if the going gets tough.  Someone who gets stuck in is Thomas "the Hammer" Hitzelsperger, the young German who has a powerful shot and is not afraid to try his luck from any range and any angle.  One who will need to be closed down quickly and not allowed to get close to Tottenham's goal, as we tend to let other players !!

Up front veteran Dion Dublin always scored against Spurs and his height proves a problem for our defenders,  Another player who might pose similar problems is our former reserve striker Peter Crouch, who id the tallest player in the Prem.  Gangly, but good on the floor, Crouch is more mobile than Dublin, so has been preferred recently and has responded with some important goals.  Darius Vassell might be fit after having a rumoured hamstring injury that didn't turn out as bad as first thought.  He has pace and can finish well, never giving up on a ball that others might let go.  He could provide Gardner and King problems, as his movement will be away from the middle and the two central defenders will have to keep their shape and not get pulled out of position.  The one forward who has been a revelation after being a seemingly expensive misfit, is Juan Pablo Angel.  The multi-million pound transfer had thrown up all sorts of questions, but he has come good now he has had a run of games and is back among the goals under O'Deary.  The two Moore brothers, Luke and Stefan, are strong and fast, but might only been seen as being introduced from the bench.

Tottenham have not done all that well on the road this season and not well at Villa for a number of years.  Last year's victory was the first in 17 visits for Tottenham, but if the effort and desire they showed in the second half of last Sunday's match is repeated they could bring something home.  We looked far superior to Villa at the start of the season, but a lot has changed since then and we approach the game as the underdog.  Maybe that will suit us ??

PREDICTION : -   Aston Villa  1   Tottenham  1

 

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE

How do you think your team have played this season ?
Which part of the season would you like my thoughts on?  The first half of the season I like many other Villa fans now am trying hard to forget it.  At times it made you think of pub league football where every successful pass, even if made under 2 yards, gave you something to talk about for two hours in the pub after whilst laughing.  Sadly that was the reality of our football for a long long time.  Players for the most part just didn't seem to care, we couldn't pass, shoot or do anything that you would call basic elements of football!  As the long months passed you could slowly see tiny little things that were changing in the team and although the progress was pleasing it still wasn't enough.  
Before December we had only won 5 games and one of those was against Wycombe in the cup !  Then we entered December and whilst most fans were contemplating how much debt to get into Xmas something really silly happened within the team and you still can't nail it down.  They either remembered that in football it helps if you win games and play well, or they realised they could win games and actually play well!  Chelsea in the cup seems to be the real turning point and the team started playing good attractive football and picking up the results.  Players stopped dropping their heads in games, instead when things weren't going well they dug deeper.  Still slipped up at points and reverted to "typical Villa" of the last few years every
now and then but for the second half of the season so far they are abnormal blips as opposed to common expected practice.  Seeing us go from the bottom of the table to the lofty heights of 5th says a hell of a lot about how DOL has got us playing, and to how the players have responded and grown themselves.
 

Who do you think is your best player at the moment ?
Being really honest you can barely separate JPA and Mellberg, if either one had been missing for an extended period we would not have climbed the table as we have.  JPA has banged them in upfront and Melly has stopped a hell of a lot from going in at the back. 

Which player isn't playing as well in recent games ?
Barry, Vassell are the two off form players that stand out.  Vass is incapable of living up to his England expectations and Barry is struggling to live up to the standards he set himself the other season where he was voted player of the year.

Any exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for ?
Solano is out for the rest of the season suspended after Boateng dropped quicker than a hooker for 50, so expect him to be fired up for this game.  Ridgewell at the back if he gets on looks a very composed defender and then we are onto Luke Moore upfront who has looked really good and strong in his appearances so far.

How is our old, but tall friend, Peter Crouch doing ?
He's doing really well since he came back from his loan spell at Norwich, without checking his record now is something like 4 goals in 5 games and he is enjoying his football and starting to prove some of the doubters wrong.

If it came to O'Leary or Ellis going would it be "no-contest" ?
Absolutely Senile Out for me every day of the week and twice on Sunday!

What is your line-up expected to be ?
Sorensen, DLC, Samuel, Johnsen, Mellberg, Solano, Hits, McCann, Barry, Vass, Angel.
Ba
rring any injury troubles that I've missed I think that is our likely start up, only variants would be JPA out Crouch in and DLC out Del
aney in possibly

What do your fans think of Tottenham Hotspur ?
I don't think our fans often think of Spurs to be honest :))  Generally they are pretty decent games between us and good natured in my experience. 

Which Spurs player do you like ?
I've always liked Carr, nice busy player and what I've seen is equally as useful in defence as attack which doesn't seem to be the case with many fullbacks these days.  King is another one who seems to be making a name for himself now, looks a quality addition at the back.  Then it's the obvious upfront, Keane and Kanoute, players who are nice to watch for different reasons - would it be cruel to say I hope they are both out injured for Sunday ??? (grin)

What do you reckon the score will be ?
Home game, we're playing well, Solano out to prove a point ... I think we'll take it 2-1 to be honest

Thanks to Mike Field
www.holteenders.com

PLAYERS UNAVAILABLE

ASTON VILLA :  Darius Vassell (hamstring); Lee Hendrie (suspended); Gareth Barry (ankle)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Rob Burch (ankle); Darren Anderton (Achilles); Stephen Carr (suspended and back injury)

COVERAGE : 
TV :  No live coverage
Radio :  
Internet :  www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast    

 

 

Aston Villa   1     Tottenham Hotspur  0     (Half-time score : 1-0)
Premier League
Sunday 2nd May 2004
Venue : -  Villa Park
Kick Off : -  15.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Warm, bright
Crowd : -  42,573
Referee : -  N. Barry (Scunthorpe)
Teams : -  
Aston Villa : - Sorensen; Samuel, Mellberg, Ridgewell, De La Cruz; Barry, McCann, Solano (Delaney 90), Hitzlsperger; Crouch (Dublin 87), Angel (Allback 69)
Unused subs: Postma, Whittingham

Tottenham Hotspur : -  Keller; Kelly (Ricketts 70), Richards, Gardner, Taricco; Brown, Davies, Redknapp, Keane; Kanoute (Doherty 80), Defoe 
Unused subs: Bunjevcevic, Mabizela, Hirschfeld

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Aston Villa Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Aston Villa  - 
 Angel 6

Tottenham HotspurNone

Cards : -  
Aston Villa  -      
 Solano (foul) 59,     Sorensen (dissent) 89

Tottenham Hotspur -      Defoe (foul) 82

As Tottenham's season peters out into the whimper it has been for so long, it is lucky that there are teams who are even more unable to keep themselves in the Premier League than Spurs.  It is only thanks to Leeds inability to keep goals out and for Mark Viduka to act as a professional person on the pitch that Spurs are still in the Premiership next season.  This 19th defeat of the season (only Leeds have more) was a testament to that and it could be that Spurs end up one place off the relegation trio, with little prospect of improving their position with performances like this.

The early goal at least meant that it wasn't a long drawn out affair, but the way Spurs played, the pain did continue for the remaining 85 minutes.  A simple ball into the box from Hitzlsperger was nodded back into the danger area by Gareth Barry at the far post and Angel was unmarked to get one of the easiest goals he will ever score.  Another in the long line of soft goals we have conceded this season.

Spurs did try to hit back, with Fredi stinging Sorensen's hands with a drive, after he had been played in by Brown and Redknapp got well under a free-kick from 25 yards after a foul on Defoe in a central position.  The best chance came on 20 minutes, when Redknapp's flighted free-kick to the far post was met with the forehead of Dean Richards. The centre half got power but no direction in his effort that went over the top, when he should have hit the target.

Ten minutes before the break, an almost identical situation to the goal nearly made it 2-0, but this time Angel got too far below the cross and could not keep it down, much to Tottenham's relief.  The Colombian is just getting his Villa act together and was quite a handful, with Kelly being robbed by the striker and he got his chip over Keller all wrong, thank goodness.

To get through to half-time at 0-1 was a result and I am sure that the result from the Reebok was fed through to the players, but it had little effect on their performance, as they allowed Hitzlsperger to stride forward and rasp a shot that crashed back off the bar from the edge of the area.  Straight away Barry went close from a similar range, but his shot flew low and wide of the goal, as was McCann after a blocked shot a couple of minutes after that.

Spurs looked lethargic and unwilling to put too much effort into the match, but on 58 minutes, Simon Davies picked up on a loose ball and made Sorensen dive down to the left to keep the ball out.  Anthony Gardner did well to challenge Angel as he raced to the near post to meet a low cross from the left and this proved the scorers last involvement before being subbed.  Spurs created a couple of weak chances, but in the 77th minute, Angel's replacement Allback turned Taricco too easily and could only get his shot straight at Keller.

And then it was all over.  Another away defeat ... that's six in succession.  Little to show that run would be broken and we might hope that now the relegated teams are all but decided, that Spurs might relax and play a bit more, but with Blackburn and Wolves both putting some decent results together, don't bank on it.

MEHSTG TOP MAN : -  ROBBIE KEANE

Spartacus Mills

 

ONE DOWN

 

04.05.2004

I am a season ticket holder in the East Stand Lower. I will be boycotting the Blackburn game as a protest against the present state of my beloved club.

The result against Villa was the final straw, we are the laughing stock of the Premiership. What club sacks  a manager a month into a season that goes through the rest of the season with a caretaker manager, who actually turns out to be a 100% more inept.

In my opinion Pleat is devious, totally lacking in football sense and if he doesn't like you, you have no chance of playing. What hold does this guy have over this club and the board, who are equally inept? If his friend Antic is appointed manager we will sink like a stone, because he will be a puppet for Pleat.

The team is a shambles totally lacking in passion, the majority of the players there now are not playing for THFC, no love for the club at all. We need a major clearout of overpaid mediocre, injury prone players and old has beens. This clearout should include all ex-players employed by the club, includind Chris Hughton who has worked under five managers there, this must say something. The new manager must have a free reign in all football matters.

I am totally disgusted and would encourage other season ticket holders to do the same on Saturday and boycott the game. At least they may take notice if the fans are not there, as we are the life blood of the club.

TIM KITSON-HARRIS

04.05.2004

So, two games left of this disaster of a season, how about giving our bunch of timewasters an extended break and putting out the Spurs Ladies team or maybe a team of amateur supporters (you know the type of fan who would, and does, walk the extra mile in support of the club).  Result ... Spurs lose (well we will anyway) but the entertainment would be an improvement ...

Even better if the first team donated the 2 games wages to a local charity ...

STEVE BEST

04.05.2004

Well Mr. Pleat has surpassed himself this time.  After watching that dross all year, I thought nothing could make me more annoyed than our inspired Caretaker tells us that he was never worried about us being relegated.  Now if we were Portsmouth or Blackburn that had actually played their way out of trouble and showed some character and form then fair enough, but after another gutless display against a team who man to man shouldn't match us, but are somehow about 12 places above us, to say that is a disgrace is an understatment.   We are up because Leeds are slightly more appalling than we are and can our players stop saying how hurt they are, but are going to make sure they try to win their last 6, 5, 4, 3 and now we are at 2 games.

Also Pleat on Sunday had Doherty, Mabizela and Bunjy as subs, what possible set of circumstances could arise that we would need three centre halves to call upon ?  He brings players from nowhere like Jackson back for games, then they aren't even on the bench for the next game.  Marney plays against Man Utd then goes AWOL.  I just hope that Mr. Levy does not appoint Taylor or Antic, because if he does he is so out of touch with what the fans want then he should go as well.

JOEL ELVIDGE

03.05.2004

Well there we have it, another totally uninspiring, pathetic season draws to an end and once again like a lot of other people I am relieved that we won't be watching Rotherham etc at The Lane next season.

I remember walking out of Paxton Rd last season after watching us lose 4-0 to Blackburn and remarking to my mate that I was just pleased that another season of stress and torment had finally finished. But here we are almost a year on and still the same dire crap football is fed to us week after week !

The really sad thing about the Spurs situation is that I don't think it has reached rock bottom yet ?

I think Spurs fans have run out of adjectives to describe how awful the so called " football " that has been dished up to us this season has been.

Pleat must be shown the door in the Summer, His meddling with our club has to be brought to an end.

He has caused unrest with previous managers and so finally he got his way and was given the caretaker manager's position for the best part of the season and what a complete and utter balls up he has made of it !

Pleat talks a good game but he couldn't motivate Kris Akabusi.  The players have been given it too easy at THFC for too long.  The appointment of a top class motivator and disciplinarian this Summer is so very important.  Players must be made aware that they are at Spurs to do a job, not just to run around a little bit on a Saturday and pick up a massive pay packet for doing it !

How blindingly obvious has it been for 2 or 3 seasons now that we lack a strong mid-field?

The Aston Villa situation just shows what a good manager can do with an average team, Villa last season were struggling with relegation but they got rid of a crap manager and now they are close to a CL position.

I looked at the Villa team yesterday and the question I kept asking myself is "Are they really player for player better than Spurs ?" ... The answer is no.

I don't think it is all doom and gloom, With the correct players being installed in the Summer along with a descent manager and I think we will see a major improvement.  

The final position that must be addressed is Club Captain.  At the moment we don't have one.  Jamie Redknapp, likeable lad that he is doesn't motivate the team. Please Spurs sign van Bommel and give him the Captain's armband and let's get some pride back into our Club for next season !  

At least we can go to the Blackburn game next week and relax.

PETER LIDDON

 

Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal

0 Birmingham City 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester United 0 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 2 Leicester City 2 Saturday
Chelsea 4 SCBC 0 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Newcastle United 0 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Everton 1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 4 Leeds United 1 Sunday
Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 0 Sunday
Portsmouth 1 Arsenal 1 Tuesday

 

League Table
 
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Arsenal 36 24 12 0 70 25 84 +45
2 Chelsea 36 23 6 7 65 29 75 +36
3 Manchester United 36 22 5 9 61 34 71 +27
4 Liverpool 36 15 11 10 51 36 56 +15
5 Aston Villa 36 15 10 11 47 41 55 +6
6 Newcastle United 35 13 14 8 47 35 53 +12
7 Bolton Wanderers 36 13 11 12 46 53 50 -7
8 Fulham 36 13 10 13 50 45 49 +5
9 Birmingham City 36 12 13 11 42 44 49 -2
10 Charlton Athletic 36 13 10 13 46 50 49 -4
11 SCBC 35 12 9 14 39 39 45 0
12 Middlesbrough 36 12 9 15 41 46 45 -5
13 Blackburn Rovers 36 12 7 17 50 57 43 -7
14 Portsmouth 36 11 9 16 41 50 42 -9
15 Everton 36 9 12 15 43 52 39 -7
16 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 36 11 6 19 44 57 39 -13
17 Manchester City 36 8 14 14 49 51 38 -2
18 Wolverhampton Wanderers 36 7 11 18 37 74 32 -37
19 Leeds United 36 8 8 20 37 75 32 -38
20 Leicester City 36 5 15 16 44 62 30 -18

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