Goals four minutes from the end of each half gave Aston Villa the three
points in this match at Villa Park, but once more it was Tottenham's
lack of concentration at set-pieces that cost them the lack of return on
a game they should have got a point out of.
While the home team created the better
chances, Spurs controlled long sessions of the game with their passing,
but it has to have some end product, otherwise it can lead to a goal
against, as was proved here.
Spurs took to the field with a changed
team from the one who scored six against Reading just four days before.
With Chimbonda sick and Ledley King being rested so that he isn't burned
out, Michael Dawson returned alongside Younes Kaboul, while Didier
Zokora came back in from suspension at right back to counter the pace of
Ashley Young. In attack, it was Jermain Defoe's turn to partner
Dimitar Berbatov and Boateng replaced Huddlestone in the middle of the
There was a disjointed look about the
side for a lot of the game, with the passing off target and the movement
not as useful as it should have been. Thus most of the chances
fell to Villa in the first half especially. Luke Moore took the
ball on the turn on the edge of the six yard box, but struck his shot
wide after just eight minutes. As the Villains threw crosses into
the box, Paul Robinson dealt with them well, opting to punch away rather
than try to hold them. Not all punches went as far as he might
have liked, but there was a more determined effort to get to them in the
first place and to get the punch right.
It was a little strange that rookie ref
Tanner chose to book three Spurs players, while not cautioning one Villa
player. He pointed out that Dawson's second tackle was responsible
for his booking, although I lost count of some of the fouls perpetrated
by some of the Villa team. I think he was attempting to establish
his authority in the first third of the game and then forgot about his
cards until near the end.
Having knocked in two goals in the first
meeting this season, Martin Laursen popped up in the penalty area once
more when a low ball into the near post by Petrov was scrambled away by
the Tottenham defence. He was about eight yards out and central in
front of goal, halfway through the half, but could not keep his shot
down and it somehow cleared the bar.
Tottenham's best opening came when Jenas
produced a neat little chipped pass over the defence and Aaron Lennon's
shoulder, but the ball ran off the glistening turf before the winger
could reach it. At the other end, Robinson had to be sharp off his
line to thwart Moore running through, then plunged to his right to stop
a low, skidding drive from Petrov.
Having been denied of possession, when he
had to run around the referee to get the ball, Kevin-Prince Boateng
raced back to push Young over on the left wing. It was an
unnecessary free-kick to give away and the lack of history in defending
such situations meant it would be a dangerous thing to do four minutes
before half-time. Young played a pacy ball in, Dawson lost
Mellberg, as he tried to play him offside, then the ball was in the net
from the Swede's head, as he had the easiest chance to score with an
Spurs did hit back before the break, as
an attack produced a free-kick of our own, with Jenas putting the ball
into the area and without Chimbonda in the side, it was won by the
defence, but hit a player and dropped right of the goal to Berbatov, who
struck a first time shot and it slammed into Carson's chest without him
having a chance to react. As the whistle was poised to be blown,
Agbonlahor raced away down the left and as he went into the box, Zokora,
who had tracked him back, fell onto him and the ref only awarded a
As the teams re-emerged, Hud was lined up
to take over from Boateng and within four minutes, he raced onto his own
free-kick which had been cleared and he hit it with great power, but the
direction did not match. Ramos brought on Keane for Aaron Lennon,
who had not received a lot of supply that was in the position that he
wanted it. A few minutes after, Spurs lost Kaboul with the injury
he picked up in the first ten minutes of the match and O'Hara came on as
the team had already swapped to a back three.
O'Hara managed to get on the end of a
deep cross from Jenas and he hit the ball early, although it was
Berbatov that stopped it when the ball hit him. Meanwhile, Moore
had a couple of chances which he hit wide before he was subbed.
After 71 minutes, Keane burst into the box and he went down under
challenge from Bouma, but the referee failed to signal for a spot-kick.
The game moved on and Steed Malbranque tried to curl one in, but missed.
Then Tottenham scored out of nothing.
An attack across the box by Keane was forced out to Dawson, who lifted
the ball into Defoe, but he was never going to win a header. It
was headed out and Berbatov reacted to get a head to it and knock it
back into the danger area, where Defoe threw himself into the air to
scissors-kick it past Carson, who stood no chance and didn't move.
The equaliser came in a period when Spurs
were passing the ball around neatly and Villa looked to sit back and try
to defend what they already had. Now things had to change.
Villa made on last effort to go forward
and the ball came off Zokora for a corner. It was like watching a
film in slow-motion, as you just knew what was going to happen. At
previous set-pieces, O'Hara was now being left to pick up Laursen and
from this corner it was his man who ran off him and was left with nobody
to put him off as he jumped to head past Robinson from a coupe of yards
out. It was just like Ingimarsson's goal on Saturday and Tottenham
will need to put this right quickly otherwise, any good work done at the
other end of the pitch will be completely wasted.
There was no real opportunity to get back
into the match and Villa took the three points, when perhaps a fairer
result might have been a share of them. It is annoying that we
have been so slack at marking from free-kicks and corners, as the goals
we have conceded have cost us enough points to be in the top six, where
Villa currently reside.
Maybe the whole Berbatov situation will
be resolved with him being sold to shore up the back line. Perhaps
things will be better of King can play regularly. Perhaps things
will get batter if we can get the same four defenders out week in week
But the lack of concentration at the most
basic level is costing us. Just get goal-side of your man and run
with him. It's taught to kids when they start playing the game.
If things don't change, we will be into
another Ossie Ardiles like reign.