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Premier League

Saturday 2nd October 2010

With a Champions League victory in midweek, Spurs will face Aston Villa with confidence, but with tiring legs after playing a third of the match with only ten men.  Injuries and loan agreements have restricted Harry Redknapp's squad and although not quite down to the bare bones, some players he might have liked to have rotated will have to play in this game. 

For some, the game will be welcomed.  Pav will be on a high from his double penalty success on Wednesday, as will Alan Hutton who had a fine performance, but for others, it might be that the following week can't come quickly enough, with a break from action. 

Huddlestone and Bale have been regulars and would ideally have sat a game out soon, but they will be in the starting line-up, while Jermaine Jenas and Wilson Palacios might see some action during the 90 minutes. 

As for the visiting Villa side, they have had two wins under new manager Gerrard Houllier.  One against Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup and one 2-1 away win against Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.  Having made an early exit from Europe, they did not have the distraction of mid-week football and will be fresher than Spurs. 

The Villains have had an odd season.  Sitting above Spurs, they have won and lost games, which is perhaps a better return than drawing a lot of them.  It will be interesting to see how the Houllier experiment pans out at Villa Park, as the popular manager Martin O'Neill walked away and some fans were not unhappy, because of the style of football (or lack of it) that he got the team to play.  Houllier was never that dynamic a manager and although he had one season where he won things (four trophies in a year), his time at Liverpool saw them treading water a bit. 

He has a solid group of professionals at Villa Park.  Some he knows form his time at Liverpool (keeper Brad Friedel,  striker Emile Heskey and defender Stephen Warnock), but all left under his management at Anfield and how he handles that will be a challenge. 

Some players are big on talent, which Houllier will have to harness.  Ashley Young has been a regular since signing for Watford, but has been in and out of the England side, while Gabriel Agonlahor has dipped out of the limelight after a long season last time out, in which he tired towards the end through constant playing. 

There are other players, who Houllier might have to try to motivate to bring the best out of.  John Carew can be a terrifying prospect on his day, but sometimes is a peripheral figure and if the boss can get him playing with either Heskey or Agbonlahor, they would be a handful of a pairing to deal with.   

The defence is relatively sound, although Richard Dunne's prone to the odd mistake or two.  It might be that Harry puts fellow Irishman Robbie Keane up against him, as his nippy play on the floor might pose more problems for Dunne than if he was up against Crouch.  Carlos Cuellar has been having a difficult time in the back four and Luke Young was set to leave the club, but has re-established himself in defence.  He has even scored again, so hopefully, his record of scoring against us will be in abeyance for a season or so !!  On the other flank Warnock has been putting in reliable performances, which won him a call-up to the World Cup squad.  Central defender James Collins is likely to be the fourth man in place of Cuellar and the out of favour Habib Beye, but he has been caught out by nippy forwards, which would have made Defoe a useful striker to have for this game.

With Stilian Petrov having been a consistent performer in midfield, he has had two wide men alongside him in Stewart Downing and Ashley Young, and he has usually been paired in the middle with Marc Albrighton, the rising star of the Villa squad since Nigel Reo-Coker dropped out of contention.  Albrighton is a nippy wide operator, in the mould of James Milner, but a bit thinner and not quite as robust, while Downing usually scores against us (and nobody else) although his wing play can be erratic.  He will have a point to prove in the same vein as Ashley Young, both of whom have been long linked with a move to White Hart Lane.

We might see Houllier employ Stephen Ireland in midfield, with the former Manchester City man having made the move to Villa Park just before O'Neill went and Houllier came in.  Ireland can be a dynamic midfielder, covering a lot of ground and getting forward into the box, but he can be a player who does not always get involved in the hurly burly of the middle of the pitch.

Spurs will be tested, but they will probably have been on light training since Wednesday, so might be ready to go out and play with some neat passing and some good movement at a suitable pace.  The Wigan game saw Spurs play too slowly after a European game, so they need to pick up the pace and take the game to the visitors.  It will be a close one, as on their day both teams have the propensity to win ... and both teams have the propensity to lose, but I hope Spurs can pull out a result ...


PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    2      Aston Villa    1

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Younes Kaboul (out - hamstring); Jermain Defoe (out - ankle), Michael Dawson (out - knee & ankle), Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin), Jamie O'Hara (out - back);  William Gallas (out - abductor); Ledley King (out - knee); - (-); - (-); 

ASTON VILLA :  - Gabriel Agbonlahor (groin); Andreas Weismann (ankle); Fabian Delph (knee); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   2    Aston Villa   1      (Half-time score : 1-1)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 2nd October 2010
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Referee :  Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Assistant Referees :  Mr. J. Collins; Mr. S. Ledger
Fourth Official :   Stuart Attwell
Crowd :   35,871
Aston Villa kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Showery rain, heavy at times
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

  2  Hutton
19  Bassong
  6  Huddlestone (c)
32  Assou-Ekotto

14  Modric  (12  Palacios 77)
  8  Jenas
11  van der Vaart      (30  Sandro 90)
  3  Bale      

  9  Pavlyuchenko (  7  Lennon 46)
15  Crouch

Unused subs: 
23  Cudicini
22  Corluka
21  Kranjcar
10  Keane

Aston Villa :

  1  Friedel

  2  L. Young
  5  Dunne
29  J. Collins      
  3  Warnock

  7  A. Young      
  5  Dunne
12  Albrighton           (25  Bannan  35)
  3  Reo-Coker

18  Heskey (10  Carew  35)
19  Petrov  (c)  (  9  Ireland  81)

Unused subs: 
  3  Guzan
21  Clark
24  Cuellar
  4  Sidwell

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Aston Villa
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

van der Vaart  45+3
van der Vaart  75

Aston Villa

Albrighton 16

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Bale (kicking ball away)  90+4  



Aston Villa

A. Young (handball)  29
Albrighton (foul)  45
Collins (foul)  85 


Match Report : -  
This was a strange game in a number of ways, with Aston Villa running the first half, but ending it all square, before Spurs staged a good comeback in the second period to win the game 2-1 with Rafael van der Vaart being the man who scored both. 

Following a tough Champions League encounter with Twente Enschede on Wednesday, when Spurs had to play for 30 minutes with only ten men, it looked as though the team would suffer from that fatigue, with the visitors taking the game to Tottenham in the first half.  But for all their possession and territorial advantage, Aston Villa failed to trouble the goal as much as they should have and subsequently lead by a single goal for the majority of the half.

The first clear opening came to Tottenham when Luka Modric played in a delicate ball to the far post, when Roman Pavyluchenko came in to head the ball over from close in, with Villa keeper Brad Friedel being able to do nothing more than try to distract the Russian striker, which he managed to do as Pav put his header wide.

This action was soon followed by an incident when Heurelho Gomes rushed out to gather a through ball on the ground and was left needing treatment as Marc Albrighton caught him with a boot in the midriff on his follow-through.  This was not the only instance of an attempt to rough up a tired Tottenham side, with Bale twice laid out with blows to the head and some crude tackles from behind, which referee Mark Clattenburg chose not to produce yellow cards for.  It wasn't all one way, as Jenas caught Heskey with a foot off the floor, although he had got a touch on the ball before his follow-through made contact.

With the Spurs physio becoming a regular visitor to the pitch, Villa's energy and aggression was over-powering Spurs, who had to take Tom Huddlestone out of the midfield to play alongside Sebastien Bassong in the middle of defence.  Eight minutes into the game, Villa fans wanted a penalty, as Heskey went into the box, slipped and went to ground (no surprise there then) and as he got up, Alan Hutton bumped into him and the Villa forward once more found his best position (laying on the grass).  The ref was not interested in the claims ... and appeared less than interested in the rest of the game as well in my opinion.

It was 15 minutes in when Villa's closing down paid dividends.  An aimless ball went down towards the left hand corner flag at the Spurs end, with Bassong ahead of Heskey in the race for the ball.  Trying to hold the striker off, Seb lost his bearings and Heskey wrestled the ball off him near the dead ball line and went past him to lay a ball all the way across the six yard box to where Albrighton was running in.  With Hutton slightly behind him in the tussle for the ball, the midfielder slid the ball in at the far post and the visitors were ahead.  It was a goal that had been coming, even though Villa had not troubled the goal too much.

Spurs could have got back into the game when Bale got free for one of the few moments in the first half when he wasn't crowded out of the play.  His low ball into the goalmouth in the 21st minute found Pavlyuchenko, who shot, but Dunne got in the way, taking the ball to the right side of the box, where Hutton ran in to striker a shot that should have tested Friedel, but instead rippled the outside of the side-netting.

There was always a doubt as to whether Villa would be able to keep up the energy they were putting in for the whole 90 minutes and Heskey could only last 35 minutes, when he limped off with a dead leg that he picked up in creating the goal.  Six minutes before the break, the Bale-Pav combination linked up again and this time, Roman touched the Welshman's cross at the near post and it was a difficult chance, but the ball went across the goal, with Crouch coming in at the far post unable to reach it. 

Villa then had a couple of opportunities to double their lead.  Stewart Downing, who once more failed to show why Spurs would have been interested in signing him, broke away on the left and pulled a low pass back to substitute John Carew outside the box.  The striker had time and space to hit a strike on goal, but instead of making the shaken Gomes work, his effort only troubled the third row of the upper tier in the Park Lane.  Shortly after, as soft free-kick gave Ashley Young the chance to score from 20 yards out and in a central position.  His shot went around the wall, but flew a yard wide of the left hand angle of Gomes' goal.

It was with a couple of minutes left that Rafael van der Vaart started to take a grip of the game.  Firstly, he quickly struck as shot that flew along the ground that had Friedel going down to it, but he failed to convince with his stop and the ball squirted away from him and went off for a corner. Then took the ball off Pavlyuchenko as they both went for a dropping ball and struck a shot that went over with Clattenburg confusingly awarding a corner for a flick off Collins, when it didn't appear to.  From that corner on the Tottenham left, the ball was cleared out to the other side of the penalty area, where it was picked up by Pav.  He measured his cross back to the far post and Peter Crouch rose to head across goal, where van der Vaart jumped high to head in as Richard Dunne jumped in front of him rather than for the ball.  it was a goal that came form Rafael's determination to get to the ball and score, whereas Dunne was not equal to that.

Coming in injury time, it was a good psychological time to score and hit Villa when perhaps they deserved to go into half time ahead.  However, it proved the turning point in the match, as Harry Redknapp took off Pavlyuchenko at half-time and brought on Aaron Lennon to stretch Villa on both wings and to allow van der Vaart to play further up the pitch.  The change gave Villa more problems than they had been posed in the first half and allowed Tottenham more space to play.

However, it was Villa who could have gone ahead five minutes after the break, when an Ashley Young corner went to the far post and with space, Downing could only volley wide from about ten yards out.  van der Vaart was reading Crouchs knock-downs well now and he had two chances from them.  One saw him bundled off the ball by Warnock at the far post, where the result should have been a corner if the Villa defender got the ball or a penalty if he didn't, but the outcome was a goal-kick.  Another opening for van der Vaart saw him played in by Bale on the left and as he shaped to shoot, the ball was blocked by slide from Dunne, which also resulted in Rafael taking a bit of a knock.  But he kept going. 

In between, Carew outmuscled Huddlestone and looked like he was going to shoot at goal, but he chose to pull the ball back across the box to find no claret and blue shirt there.  Then Stylian Petrov hit a low shot from 25 yards that Gomes comfortably gathered, which was just after Assou-Ekotto returned a clearance with a rising 30 yard drive that Friedel had covered.  The nearest Villa came to scoring in the second half was when Ashley Young's left wing cross came in low and Gomes went for it at the near post with Carew, they both missed it and Albrighton could not turn it in beyond them both at the far post.  It was a let off for Tottenham and one they made Villa pay for.

Carew had a header from a corner that went over the bar, but Spurs again answered that with Huddlestone flicking on Modric's corner and Crouch heading just wide of the post as he dived in.  If Tom hadn't have touched the ball, Crouchy might have had a better effort.  And in the 75th minute, Crouch got free at the far post as Aaron Lennon's cross came in from the right and he nodded the ball down to the centre of the goalmouth, where VDV let the ball go across him, foxing Dunne who dived in to block, but was left on the floor as Rafael made a yard for himself to smack the ball past Friedel from a couple of yards out to put Tottenham 2-1 up.

Wilson Palacios came on for Modric to stiffen up the midfield and hold onto what we had, while Ireland and Bannan were brought on by Villa, but Spurs had control of the game now.  Crouch slipped when he was about to shoot and then Spurs won a free-kick as Lennon was sent clear and went past Collins, who cynically chopped him down.  He might not have been the last man, but it was almost a red card offence for the professional manner he brought him down having skipped past him.  Gareth Bale knocked a short free-kick saw Rafael shoot over from 25 yards, although the ball to him was a little too close to a Villa player closing him down. 

Some good work down the right was opening Villa up and Hutton and Lennon exchanged passes, with the Scot hitting a shot on goal that was stopped by Collins throwing himself in the way.  He had been given instruction by Redknapp to get forward earlier in the half and this pushed Ashley Young further back, thus neutralising his threat. 

van der Vaart was replaced as the game ticked into added time and he was given a great reception, as a class act showed his worth.  Sandro came on but did not get a touch before the final whistle, with the only other notable event being Bale getting a yellow card for kicking the ball away and time-wasting, when Friedel had been getting away with it from the start.  The rush he was in to take the final free-kick was hilarious to see after what had gone before.

So, a good three points and a win that will see Spurs into the international break.  It takes Tottenham up to fifth and while the first half was a little dodgy, they showed that players can play in unfamiliar positions and do a job.  But one man stood head and shoulders above the others and Rafael van der Vaart is already going a long way to making himself one of the most popular Spurs signings of recent years.

kirk hammerton

Match ball sponsor Chiltern Cold Storage
Match programme sponsor TNT Express Services
Match shirt sponsor JE Blackholly

Fan Reaction : -



With a few exceptions, Aston Villa were a good enough side, who played some reasonable attacking football.  The end product wasn't all that, but they showed an overly aggressive approach that did them no favours and should have seen at least one player sent off.

In addition to that, they also set out from the onset to waste as, much time as possible.  I guess this is something that we need to get used to as every side who has come to White Hart Lane this season has done it and it has become a highly distasteful aspect of the game that teams who seemingly do not feel confident enough to rely on their own ability to win games choose to employ instead.  

Villa's goalkeeper Brad Friedel might be eking out every second of his time in the top flight before retirement, but his shameful minutes spent running up to take a goal-kick, stopping half-way and going back again to run up and kick it is time that he will never be able to get back in his life.  When losing 2-1, his attitude was quite different and he had to move his old bones at a much quicker rate to try and get the ball at the end where they can score a goal.

While it was only Bale who got booked for time-wasting, the referee Mark Clattenburg, who a number of Spurs fans are aware is not very good, failed to take the proper action when visiting players clattered the Spurs players.  Collins knew that he had no chance of catching Lennon, when the winger raced away from the lumbering centre half, so he just took his legs from under him.  There were covering defenders, but it was a bad foul and one that was pre-meditated.  A red would not have been inappropriate.  And Albrighton's booking for not even trying to play the ball when Hutton breezed past him at pace was after he had slid into Gomes with his studs showing.  Let's not even go near Reo-Coker's reckless challenge where both feet were off the floor and there was not a great deal of control and Warnock's clearing out of Lennon from behind.  And it was not just Villa, as Jenas took Heskey with a raised foot and could have also seen yellow.  but for that the ref would need to understand how the game is played.

For Rafael van der Vaart, he applied himself to the football and not the players.  His poise and running are of a level we have not seen for a number of years. 

steve bryan






Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 0 Everton 2 Saturday
Stoke City 1 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Sunderland 0 Manchester United 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Fulham 1 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Arsenal 0 Sunday
Liverpool 1 Blackpool 2 Sunday
Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 7 6 0 1 23 2 18 +21
2 Manchester City 7 4 2 1 9 3 14 +6
3 Manchester United 7 3 4 0 18 11 13 +7
4 Arsenal 7 3 2 2 16 9 11 +7
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 7 3 2 2 9 7 11 +2
6 West Bromwich Albion 7 3 2 2 9 12 11 -3
7 Stoke City 7 3 1 3 8 9 10 -1
8 Aston Villa 7 3 1 3 9 12 10 -3
9 Blackpool 7 3 1 3 11 15 10 -4
10 Fulham 7 1 6 0 8 7 9 +1
11 Sunderland 7 1 5 1 7 7 8 0
12 Bolton Wanderers 7 1 5 1 10 11 8 -1
13 Blackburn Rovers 7 2 2 3 7 8 8 -1
14 Wigan Athletic 7 2 2 3 4 13 8 -9
15 Newcastle United 7 2 1 4 10 10 7 0
16 Birmingham City 7 1 4 2 7 10 7 -3
17 Everton 7 1 3 3 6 7 6 -1
18 Liverpool 7 1 3 3 7 11 6 -4
19 Wolverhampton Wanderers 7 1 2 4 7 12 5 -5
20 West Ham United 7 1 2 4 5 14 5 -9



Position before the match :   8th
Position after the match :   5th
Position after the weekend :   5th


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