|OPPONENTS||Aston Villa at Villa Park|
|DATE||Sunday 16th February 2020|
The winter break has only been ten days for Spurs, but it feels like
a lifetime. With the games recommencing in the middle of Storm
Dennis, the winter break has been extended for some by Storm Ciara,
with some doubts over games this weekend. Hppefully, any
lingering doubts over Tottenham's chances will be blown away.
Villa are struggling to find their form in their return to the top flight, with goal-scoring an issue. Big moneys inging Wesely, who they hoped would provide the bulk of their goals picked up an injury that has ruled him out for the season, so they have drafted in Samatta from Tanzania via Belgium, with his height and power his twin assets. Of the team before his arrival, nobody had hit double figures, with Grealish on nine and Hourihane seven and El Ghazi six. Losing to Bournemouth in their last game left them hovering just above the drop zone and although they have enough winnable games left to play, they also face five of the current top six plus Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United, so it could be a nervy run-in, with Southampton and West Ham (their final fixture and a possible relegation decider) also left to visit before the end of the season, with both still needing points.
The main threat will come from Grealish. A player Spurs made a half-hearted attempt to sign has thrived among his Villa team-mates this season and has an array of passing to match his strength on the ball (although he will go down easy if touched). I don't suppose Jose will go man-for-man on him, but the need to deny him time on the ball will be imperative. The problem for him now, is who does he look for when he has the ball ? Wesley was a target and Samatta might be the straight replacement, but without fellow terror in midfield - John McGinn, out injured - there are fewer good options available to him. El Ghazi and Hourihane score a few, as does Trezeguet, but not regularly enough for Grealish to be certain of an end result. Bringing in former Swansea front man Borja Baston is an attempt to beef up the forward line, but he will need to hit the ground running.
Villa have built a stronger back line, with Tyrone Mings the main man, who wins almost everything in the air and throws his body on the line when needed partnering another giant - Bjorn Engels - in the middle of the back four. Kouteny Hause came from Wolves and adds height in the centre of defence is needed, while Matt Targett was at Southampton and didn't pull up trees there, but is disciplined in his defending, although he likes to roam forward. On the other side, Neil Taylor or Ahmed El Mohamady play more like wing-backs, but neither has the blistering pace of their younger years.
Behind the back line, Dean Smith has brought in Pepe Reina to add experience to a position where injury has robbed him of his first choice number one - Tom Heaton. A fine keeper when at Liverpool, Reina has enjoyed a renaissance at Napoli, but he is now 37 and while keepers can go on longer than outfield players, his reactions will have dimmed a little and it will be about his decision making, with the Premier League being a faster moving game than Serie A.
Dean Smith has proved himself a very astute manager. Having built a good reputation at Walsall and Brentford, he has shown that he is able to produce teams that can do a job in the Premier League, but with limited finance and the step up from the Championship being a big one, the quality in the side has met it's match across this season. Beating teams around them in the table might be enough to survive, but aside from that only a 2-2 draw with Manchester United stands out as a result they might not have expected.
They will come out of the blocks quickly and try to blitz Spurs, so a strong start is what we need to counter this. The approach they take might leave space for us to play in, but Smith will probably leave a midfielder back to try to contend with a breakaway. The addition of Bergwijn to the Spurs ranks adds another aspect to our attacking play that poses problems for opponents. He showed against Manchester City that he is technically very good and strong on the ball, so combined with the pace of Son and Lucas, the passing of Lo Celso and the movement off the ball by Dele, I hope there will be enough to give Villa a tough afternoon.
With the pressing need for
points, expect Villa to press, but if we can get good movement and
quick passing with a high tempo, it might be that Spurs can find a
way to return South with three points.
|PREDICTION||Aston Villa 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS : -
Spurs go into the match at Villa Park missing Harry Kane (hamstring), Moussa Sissoko (knee) and Juan Foyth (groin). Ben Davies' return to fitness has come at a good time and Giovani Lo Celso should be fit enough to start, but fellow countryman Erik Lamela (hip) is a doubt for the match on Sunday.
ASTON VILLA TEAM NEWS
|Premier League||Kick off 14:00|
Tottenham Hotspur 3 (2)
Alderweireld 26m 35s
|Crowd : 41,874||Weather : Windy, wet to start and brighter later|
|Referee : Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire)||Assistant Referees : Mr. Daniel Cook; Mr. Stuart Burt|
|Fourth Official : Anthony Taylor|
|Video Assistant Referee : Jonathan Moss||Video Assistant Referee Assistant : Simon Long|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the Holte end in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 10 minutes.|
Guilbert (foul on Bergwijn) 86
Nakamba (foul on Bergwijn) 90+2
|Aston Villa :||kit||Tottenham Hotspur :||kit|
30 Courtney HAUSE
22 Bjorn ENGELS
15 Ezri KNOSA
18 MATT TARGETT
4 Danny DRINKWATER (11 Marvelous NAKAMBA 60 )
6 Douglas LUIZ
24 Frederic GUILBERT
21 Anwar El GHAZI (17 Mahmoud TREZEGUET 70)
20 Mbwana SAMATTA (19 Borja BASTON 83)
10 Jack GREALISH
Hugo LLORIS (c)
|Manager : Dean Smith||Manager : Jose Mourinho|
|Sponsor : W88||Shirt sponsor : AIA|
|Kit Supplier : Kappa||Kit Supplier : Nike|
A game where central defenders took the limelight (not always for the right reason) saw Heung-Min Son pop up in the final minute of added time to score a winner to give Spurs a 3-2 win at Villa Park against a spirited Aston Villa side.
Villa had to make a change
after Tyrone Mings went down with tonsillitis, replacing him with
Bjorn Engels at the back, while Spurs welcomed back Ben Davies
(taking Japhet Tanganga's place) and Dier came in for Ndombele to
play with Harry Winks in the defensive midfield positions.
The Villa tactic of Grealish and Targett on their left was less effective when Lucas got back to even up the numbers and that looked to be the way to competently deal with it. It might have cut back our ability to break away, but with Bergwijn in the side, he has pace to threaten in the opposition half. Bergwijn and Davies linked well on the left and the Welshman set up Dele, who tried to place his shot and again it was blocked by Konsa. The ball fell for Bergwijn and he drove it in on goal, with it being blocked and VAR looked at it for some time before deciding it wasn’t a handball. Play had gone on for some time until being it stopped when Spurs had a 30 yard free-kick that was worked left to Bergwijn, laying it back to Winks, who bent it just over the bar.
The new signing used his
pace to outstrip the Villa defence and Engels got back at him to
slide tackle him. After some time, the VAR review awarded Spurs a
penalty. Sonny was the one to take it and his stuttering run saw him
drag it to the keeper’s right where Reina had dived, then reacted to
try and get the loose ball. Son was alert to the situation and got
there to poke it under the keeper and in for a goal, which he should
have got from the spot. It was a poorly struck penalty and allowed
the keeper to get to it, but his reaction made up for his mistake.
From his floating infield,
Grealish was spreading the play and Spurs were getting pulled across
and forced into conceding corners, which we have been suspect in
defending. It wasn’t a great tactic, but Grealish was proving hard
to pick up when he moved in off the left. Spurs were finding space
on our right and Bergwijn played in Aurier, whose cross was blocked
but the Dutchman ran onto it and Nakamba threw himself in front of
the ball to take it over for a corner. Son had a shot but hit a heap
of players on the floor in front of him, but a break when Toby cut
out a Villa pass leading to Moura running away with it. A deflection
took the ball past Konsa and Dele was through on Reina. He dallied
in taking the shot leading to Konsa getting back to get a leg to the
ball as Alli tried to flick it past the keeper. Spurs were passing
up chances to regain the lead and when they were giving away
set-pieces, they were playing a dangerous game.
Too often, indecision led to Tottenham moves breaking down. While Aurier was the full back who was pushing on, his passes too often were picked off too easily, but once they had worked out how to play Grealish, he was forced inside, where it was a little more crowded and he didn't have the opportunity to put balls into the penalty area from a wider angle. Samatta looked half-decent, playing as their target man and El Ghazi was busy but couldn't finish. They were obviously missing their absent men - Mings and McGinn - who add a bit of added quality to the side. There may be some hope for them, as there are worse sides in the Premier League, but their inability to stop goals flying in at their end may cost them and if relegated, they will lose players.
Reaching 40 points (albeit much later in the season than we have recently been used to) may well be enough to fend off relegation for Spurs this season and puts us one point behind Chelsea, although they have to play Manchester United tomorrow. With Chelsea to play on Saturday in the early game, it could be a crucial game of the season. Once more, it will not be enough to play like this against Chelsea, so I am sure Jose will have them up for it, after facing Leipzig in midweek.
Perry Digs Weed
Villa took the lead at exactly the same time as they went 1-0 ahead at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
Heung-Min Son scored his
50th and 51st Premier League goals, becoming the first Asian player
to reach this mark.
|Match ball sponsors||-|
|Match programme sponsors||-|
|Match shirt sponsors||-|
|How the players did|
|Hugo Lloris||Not one of Hugo's best performances. Came and went for the first goal and looked uncertain from corners, with big Villa players surrounding him. Did OK.|
|Serge Aurier||Loose in his passing, but he did get into some good positions on the right wing. Looked as though he was going to get booked early on in the game, but steadied to do some useful defending.|
|Toby Alderweireld||Could easily have been shaken by putting in an own goal after 8 minutes. Being at the birth of his son yesterday must have taken a lot out of him, but he got his head straight and scored a fine equaliser and put in a good shift.|
|Davinson Sanchez||Unassuming performance by Davinson, going about his business today without any great fuss. Did well and made a very good tackle on El Ghazi to stop a goal to make it 2-1.|
|Ben Davies||Very good game back. Got in some good defensive headers and played the ball well from the back.|
|Eric Dier||Solid game. Didn't do anything outstanding, but did what he did well, breaking up play in midfield.|
|Harry Winks||An impressive performance from Harry. Always available to receive the ball and looked forward to set Spurs on their way.|
|Steven Bergwijn||A good game for Bergwijn. Looked to take people on and use his pace, which won the penalty. Tackled back too, so is complementing Moura on the other flank.|
|Dele Alli||A little too ineffective today. Was making good runs to get the ball, but often his passes were under-hit or he ran into blind alleys. Perhaps the fuss about his Coronavirus comments have got to him.|
|Heung-Min Son||Didn't look up for it after getting hit in the first minute, perhaps with Terry's tuition. However, he kept going and made up for a poor penalty by netting the rebound and then keeping calm to slid home the last minute winner.|
|Lucas Moura||Hard working performance without much reward. Fetched and carried, without creating a lot or getting chances of his own. Unselfish showing.|
|Giovani Lo Celso||Looked to take the ball whenever possible and probed the Villa defence. Had a shot way off target and brought a save from Reina from another.|
|Gedson Fernandes||Looked good in beating his man with determination and put in a lot of effort in his brief cameo.|
|Jan Vertonghen||Came on after Son's goal to strengthen the defence, but there were only seconds left.|
|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester City||2||West Ham United London||0||Wednesday|
|League Table 2019-20|
|4||Frank Lampard's Chelsea||26||12||5||9||43||36||41||+7|
|12||South Coast Big Club||26||9||4||13||32||48||31||-16|
|15||Brighton & Hove Albion||26||6||9||11||31||38||27||-7|
|18||West Ham United London||26||6||6||14||30||45||24||-15|
Position before match :
Position after match : 5th
Position after the week's games : 5th
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