major rift opening between John Gregory and chairman Doug Ellis and also
between the fans and Ellis, Villa appears to be a club in turmoil.
However, they have been picking up points and sit in 8th place just
Peter Schmeichel has made
the gloves his own at Villa, leaving Finnish keeper Peter Enckleman
getting the odd game when the old Dane needs a rest.
Alpay and Mark Delaney
are both likely to be out with ankle and knee injuries until the New
Year, so will probably not feature in this match, but there are a few
options open to Villa in their absence. Young England prospect,
Gareth Barry has dropped out of the side, as Gregory shows his authority
over the players. Barry had done nothing wrong and now is hinting
that he might leave the Midlands club, with Tottenham one of the clubs
interested. Big summer signing Olof Mellberg has shown a
ruggedness sometimes missing from the Villa defence in the past.
Jay Lloyd Samuel has come in to add youthful exuberance to the
experience of Alpay and Mellberg. He has had first team football
while on loan, but has settled into the Villa side well. Further
old heads are available in the shape of Steve Staunton and Alan
Wright. Staunton is coming to the end of his career, but still
reads the game really well and has a good range of passes ,while Wright
can bomb down the line and supply the crosses that the forwards need.
Former Spurs winger,
David Ginola will be available for selection again on the date of this
match after his suspension for getting sent off against Leicester
City. Whether he will be chosen to play by manager Gregory, who
appears to despise the Frenchman, despite the ability he can bring to
the team. Moustapha Hadji will also likely be fit to return
following an ankle injury and he might link up in midfield with his
Moroccan colleague, Hassan Kachloul, who was reputed to be a Spurs
target in the summer. They are both skillful, but tend to
disappear from games sometimes, despite their industry when Villa are on
Most of the hard work in
winning the ball comes from George Boateng, who covers acres of space to
shut down the opposition. This could make Tottenham's passing game
more difficult to impose on Villa. Alongside him, young Lee
Hendrie also is all-action and can get forward into the box to finish
off moves. His temperament is a bit suspect, but he has signed a
new deal at Villa and seems to have been better off for it. The
inventive Paul Merson has been out of the side of late and others who
have featured in the past, but may not now are Steve Stone and Ian
Taylor, who both show the terrier like abilities that Gregory seems to
look for in Boateng.
The Colombian who looked
like a flop last season, has now come alive and is scoring freely.
Juan Pablo Angel has finally settled into the Premiership way of life
and is getting on the scoresheet with monotonous regularity.
Twinned up front with the fast and powerfully built, Darius Vassell,
they have showed a good understanding. The Spurs defence will have to
watch their movement, as they drop off their markers to pull players out
of position very well. Dion Dublin is still there and looks likely
to be on the bench, which is where we hope he stays as he ALWAYS scores
against Spurs. One big signing who has still to hit it off, is
Bosko Balaban, who came in from Croatia and is yet to get a regular
starting place in the side.
Favouring a 5-3-2
formation, at Derby Villa came unstuck and lost 3-1, but they try and
spring players forward from the back to support the midfield, who then
can also get forward. This will mean a lot of work for our wing
backs to stop them getting free, so Ziege and Taricco's attacking side
might be curtailed in stopping the other side doing the same.
Tottenham do not have the best of records at Villa Park, but should be
able to play their part in a decent game. Bearing in mind the
injuries and tiredness at this time of year (especially with the age of
some of our players), I believe this might be the match that Spurs do
least well in ...
: - Aston Villa 2 Tottenham 1
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
|Aston Villa 1
(Half time score: 0-1)
|Saturday 29th December
|Kick Off : 3 p.m.
|Weather : - Cold
|Crowd : - 41,134
|Referee : -
Mr. E. Wolstenholme (Blackburn)
Scorers : - Aston Villa
- Angel (pen) 90
Tottenham - Ferdinand 38
Aston Villa :
Tottenham : Richards
(foul) 51, Ziege (foul) 70, Ferdinand (unsporting conduct) 72
: Schmeichel; Wright (Stone 71), Mellberg, Staunton, ; Boateng
(Taylor 87), Samuel, Merson, Hendrie, Kachloul; Angel, Vassell.
Unused Subs : Enckleman, Barry, Dublin
Spurs : Keller;
Richards, King, Perry; Ziege (Gardner 83), Anderton, Poyet, Freund,
Taricco; Sheringham, Ferdinand (Rebrov 82)
Unused Subs : Sullivan, Sherwood, Davies
With both sides
struggling in recent weeks, they were keen to get something out of the
game and although Tottenham defended stoically, they were denied by the
hand of Daz. A long hail Mary of a cross in injury time was
handled at the far post by Anderton and with the last kick of the match,
Juan Pablo Angel scored from the spot. Despite Tottenham
controlling the game for periods, Villa had pressurised Spurs and then
got their reward at the end of the match.
match began with a shock when Kasey Keller showed up in goal, making us
wonder if Sullivan had been dropped or whether he was just being
rested. Perry came in for Gardner, who had a torrid time at the
New Dell in midweek. Not unsurprising changes, but ones which
might have made the team readjust their tactics. It was not to
affect them a great deal as there was a to-and-fro to the game that made
it feel like a Cup match. Deano had to make a couple of last ditch
tackles to retrieve the situation after the speedy Vassell got away from
the Tottenham defence and the same player shot into the side netting
from inside the area. Keller was tested by Merson and the ever
present threat of Vassell before Spurs broke on the left with Ziege, who
passed into the box. It was intended for Teddy, but with Staunton
and Mellberg in attendance, he stepped over the ball leaving Les a run
on goal with a clear shot. Although Schmeichel got a bit of his
leg on the ball, he could not stop it going in for Ferdie's 150th
Premiership goal. He had already struck the post with a header
that seemed to take an unfortunate bobble off the turf, when it looked
like it was floating in.
were up against it for most of the time, but Villa created few direct
chances, as they were blocked at the edge of the box or the final pass
was off target. However, without Keller's sharp double save when
Merson burst into the box, the lead would not have been taken into the
second half was a different story as Villa tried to press home their
possession, but with Merson and Boateng both playing deeper, the threat
was slightly lessened. Keller had to be alert to deny Staunton's
header, Hendrie's shot and a volley by Kachloul, as Spurs were made to
defend for long periods. The Spurs fans gave good voice to help
the team repel the Villa raids as the home side's fans unfurled
"Gregory Out" banners.
about ten minutes left, Hoddle brought on Rebrov for Ferdinand and it
proved an inspired substitution, as his pace on the break caused the
home side problems. First he broke on his own and rather than fire
off a shot, passed back to Freund, who's cross went behind. This
was a feature of Spurs' breaks today. With a few more effective
crosses (or even ones that stayed on the pitch), Les could have added to
his goal total. Extra training in that department might be in
order before New Year's Day. When he got away again, he put
Anthony Gardner in and while he had done well to get in that position,
his shot lacked conviction. Accepting he is a defender, he must
learn to stick these sort of chances away, especially as the break lead
to Villa's equalising goal.
came via a long cross (again) into the box and Darren Anderton's hand
hit the ball, leaving the referee to point to the spot and Angel to
crash the penalty past Keller. It was a bow for Tottenham's
recovery after the defeats by Ipswich and Southampton, but showed that
there is a resilience that would have not been evident in the
past. It is just a shame that there was only seconds to go when
the handball happened.
bad end to a bad Christmas, which we will have to hope turns into a good
New Year. With these things evening themselves out over the length
of the season, we have some good luck to look forward to.
|MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DEAN
|Moments of injury time remained
when Sergei Rebrov put Anthony Gardner in on goal. However, his
weak shot was saved by Schmeichel and that lead to Villa grabbing a
penalty equaliser at the death.
It was a sickening way to lose
two points, but perhaps if Tottenham had taken the opportunities they
had created in the second half, especially after the introduction of
Rebrov, they might have been out of reach already. Twice, the
Ukrainian chose to pass when well placed and his confidence and the
rumours about an impending move to Lazio must be affecting him.
With Sullivan dropping out of the
side - hopefully to give Keller some first team match practice - there
was an odd look about the Spurs side. One which was more obvious
as the game went on. It involved the missing of chances.
Those that slipped by against Ipswich and SCBC proved more important
than those against Bolton (Worthington Cup) and Fulham. If we are
to seriously challenge for a European place, then there must be an
acceptance that all chances are vital and should be stuck away, rather
than try and pass the buck or try and score the goal of the
season. In games like this and the previous two, those missed
chances have cost us points and could be even more costly come the end
of the season.
The other problem this match
threw up was the rate at which Spurs are picking up bookings. Not
undeserved ones, but ones for stupid things - like Les' kicking the ball
away. Having got away with it in the first half, he did it again
in the second and got yellow carded. Ziege and Richards both got
yellows, which are starting to add up and should these players get
suspended, we will be back in the situation where the team will have
others throw into the side and the balance will be upset.
Villa probably deserved something
out of the game, but Spurs had held out so well, that it was cruel that
a ball from Stone that looked as thought it was floating out of play,
should be handled and a penalty awarded. Anderton will be the only
one who knows as to why he raised a hand. It gave Angel the
opportunity to test Keller as he had failed to do so throughout the rest
of the match. As it was, it was no contest.
While many of the Spurs players
looked as though they were knocking the ball about easily, Villa
hassling tactics made it hard to string passes together. Gus was
involved, but rarely effective. Teddy was slightly off in his
passing, although his dummy was classy and left Les an easy task in
beating Schmeichel. Les battled hard, but had two decent chances,
of which he took one and hit the post with the other. There was a
lack of people breaking from midfield until Gardner came on and he is
not the best finisher at the club at the moment. Rebrov should
also have tried Schmeichel out more after he came on, as he had chances
to shoot and did not take them. The back three defended really
well, while Taz and Ziege did some good tracking back, but when
attacking, they wasted a lot of possession, by putting in crosses to
no-one in particular or over-hitting them. The side cannot afford
to spurn the chance to put in a cross to a Spurs head. Deano was
perhaps the pick of the bunch, with Keller not far behind (despite
dropping a high cross) as he made some important saves.
On another day, Spurs might have
held out, but it is the points that we are dropping against comparative
or lesser teams that will come home to haunt us later on in the New
Year. Villa might be just the sort of game that will prove typical
of this season.
Benny The Ball