COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 11th April 2015
VENUE White Hart Lane






With the added spice of Tim "I have the best record as a Spurs manager ever" Sherwood to White Hart Lane, Aston Villa arrival will see Spurs needing to get back to decent performances after the ditchwater dull 0-0 draw at Turf Moor.

They need to turn in a performance like that against Leicester City at home last time out, but without conceding all those goals.  Some exciting football, played at pace and giving the opposition no time to settle.  All of that was missing at Burnley last week and with it went our chances of a top five finish.

Villa have been having a tough time of it, being dragged to a 3-3 draw at home to QPR when two goals ahead, after managing a defeat at Man U and a home loss to Swansea City before that.  The sudden turnaround has not solely been down to the appointment of Sherwood, but the return of Christian Benteke has been a major factor.  Struggling for goals before the Belgian got over his injury, he has added an attacking focus for the team and with Gabriel Agbonlahor also back playing, the chances are being created for the big man.

Tottenham will need to work hard to establish the control of the game and then will have to face a side who will be working hard but with half a mind in next week's FA Cup semi-final on the horizon.   The spotlight will return to Harry Kane and he will be looking to get back on the score-sheet again, after a blank outing last Sunday.  He will face a decent keeper in Brad Guzan, who has had a lot to do this season as the players in front of him have not afforded him the greatest protection.  Not the tallest of goalies, he is good a t stopping shots, but Tottenham need to improve the accuracy of their shooting.

With former Spur Alan Hutton out injured, the Villa back four might comprise Ron Vlaar in the middle with Ciaran Clark, neither of whom are the quickest on the turn and while good in the air, could be found on on the turf.  Kieran Richardson playing at full back might have a good idea when he was playing at Manchester United, but these days, he also lacks pace and while Leonardo Bacuna is quicker and likes to go forward, but he might get caught out of position in doing so.  Aly Cissokho might return from injury and he might give them quicker legs at the back.

Surprisingly for a manager who likes to play young players, defenders Nathan Baker and Matt Lowton have not been first choices of late and have had to be satisfied with supporting roles from the bench.  Tough tackling Jores Okore had been a starter before the QPR game and he might be brought in to stiffen up the Villa back four.

In midfield Fabian Delph has been the shining light for Villa, but he was disappointing last time out for England and is often prone to pick up too many cards in his efforts for the team.  A decent passer and tackler, he was linked with a move to Spurs and Liverpool before signing a new deal at Villa.  Sanchez, Cleverley and Grealish have been playing lately and there is a mix of abilities there.  Cleverely was put out on loan to Villa and I don't think their fans know what he brings to the party.  Touted as a good passer and maker of things happen, he has turned into a Jamie O'Hara figure and looks like he will be out of Old Trafford in the summer with Everton his likely destination (hopefully, as Spurs are linked with him today ... only because he is on a free !).  Grealish is a terrier and has been praised for his performances, while Colombian Carlos Sanchez has been starting in midfield recently too.  I don't know too much about him, but he must be a good player if Tim picks him !!

Others available, who have not been in the starting line-up of late include Charles N'Zogbia, Joe Cole and Scott Sinclair.  With Sinclair injured, it is hard to see where a lot of the creativity will come from and while both Cole and N'Zogbia have the ability to make telling passes, neither have proved it on a consistent basis.  Also, they are both entering the veteran stage in terms of time they have been around if not both of them are there because of their age (Cole is at 33).

With striker Libor Kozak coming back from a broken leg, he is just returning to match play, leaving Agbonlahor and Benteke as the chosen two, although Andreas Weimann is  available, although he has more often been on the bench.

Sherwood will be a hero if he keeps them up, so prepare of the fanfares come the end of the season, but while Villa have tried to invest in younger players, it hasn't really worked for them, so where will they go next ?  They have struggled for a few years now and need some stability ... whether Sherwood can bring that might be in doubt, as he is always looking to the next big thing in his career.

It will be a difficult task, as Sherwood will have an insight into the Spurs players, but not the way that Pochettino might play them and that could create an opportunity for Tottenham, along with their fitness levels, which they hopefully will put on display after Thursday's open training session at White Hart Lane. 

This is for real and might just give Spurs the slimmest of chances to have a good finish to the season.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2         Aston Villa    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris is still side-lined with his knee injury, while Jan Vertonghen's illness and Kyle Walker's bruised foto keep them out of contention for the match.
Alan Hutton (knee), Scott Sinclair and Ashley Westwood (both hamstring) are Aston Villa's latest casualties, while Carles Gil (dead leg) will be missing with Aly Cissokho hoping to be over his groin injury to be able to play.  Libor Kozak is still recovering match fitness after breaking his leg.

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Tottenham Hotspur  0 (0)                                                                     Aston Villa  1 (1)
Premier League
Saturday 11th April 2015                                                                                                                    Kick off 15:00
White Hart Lane
None Benteke 34m 12s
Bentaleb (foul on Agbonlahor)  66
Rose (foul on Delph)  90+2
Lamela (foul on Benteke)  90+5


Sanchez (foul on Mason)  58
Benteke (kicking ball away)  81
Richardson (foul on Kane) 90+6 

Sanchez  (second yellow - foul on Rose)  90+4

Crowd :   35,687 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee :  Lee Probert (Wiltshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. R. Ganfield; Mr. E. Smart
Fourth Official :  Darren Sheldrake -
Aston Villa kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 10 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Aston Villa : kit
13  Michel VORM

  6  Vlad CHIRICHES (12  DeAndre YEDLIN 79)
15  Eric DIER
21  Federico FAZIO
  3  Danny ROSE     

42  Nabil BENTALEB     
38  Ryan MASON

17  Andros TOWNSEND  (11  Erik LAMELA 79     )
22  Nacer CHADLI  (  9  Roberto SOLDADO 62)
23  Christian ERIKSEN

18  Harry KANE (c)

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
25  Benjamin STAMBOULI


    1  Brad GUZAN

  7  Leandro BACUNA
  4  Ron VLAAR
  6  Ciaran CLARK  (  2  Nathan BAKER 18)
18  Kieran RICHARDSON     

16  Fabian DELPH (c)
40  Jack GREALISH (10  Andreas WEIMANN 63)
24  Carlos SANCHEZ               

11  Gabriel AGBONLAHOR  (12  Joe COLE 70)

20  Christian BENTEKE       

Unused subs: 
31  Shay GIVEN
  5  Jores OKORE
34  Matt LOWTON
28  Charles N'ZOGBIA


Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Tim Sherwood
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Macron
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   dafabet
Match report

Well, if Tottenham can't be bothered then neither can I.  I am not sure what has happened at the club but for the last three matches, they have failed to put in the hard work that was the signature of the good run they had and in losing to 'Tim Sherwood's Aston Villa' they clearly out out the message that the deckchairs were out.

Last week's lame draw at Burnley was a point gained when not playing well, but today, to play badly and not get anything against a Villa side that are as poor a team as you hope to face at this side of the season was unforgiveable.  And to make them look good really took some doing.  Pochettino helped by selecting Chirches at right back, with DeAndre Yedlin on the bench, while Fazio was brought back in place of the sick Jan Vertonghen to counter the strength in the air of Villa's Benteke. 

The sun was out on a glorious afternoon on a pitch that was heavily watered ... so heavily watered that the ball seemed to be holding up a little on passes along the turf.  The game started with Chirches doing his best to show how much he wants to leave by giving the ball away in the back line.  The Romanian looks like a liability and for all his attempts to try to play football, he often does it in entirely the wrong places.  When he did try it in an appropriate part of the pitch, as he did going up the line when Townsend had set him free, he messed it up and the ball ran out for a goal-kick.

There was a distinct lack of excitement in the first 20 minutes, with Benteke setting Bacuna up for a shot which looked like it might threaten the Spurs goal, until the Villa defender sliced it badly wide.  A cleared corner fell to Eriksen, who struck it on the volley, but reached the top tier of the Park Lane.  As Spurs pressed on the Villa goal a little harder, they had opportunities.  Fazio got his head to a corner, despite much pushing and pulling by the Villa defenders, but he put it a yard wide and then a move involving Kane, Chadli, Eriksen and Rose ended with the left back striking a shot at goal that Guzan stopped with his legs.  Townsend then sent in a low shot form the other side of the goal in the next attack, but it was lacking power and was straight at the Villa keeper.

Bentaleb lost possession on halfway and Villa broke down their left, playing Benteke in just outside the box, but Nabil got back to rescue the situation with a tackle and came away with the ball.  Spurs were making it hard for themselves, with their first touch being heavy and making the second a tackle.  Although the final stats showed Spurs enjoyed more possession, mainly this was at the back and not in areas where it might have damaged Villa.

When Tottenham did get through there was still not a threat to Guzan's goal. Kane played a neat chipped pass over the defence to free Chadli on the left, but rather than strike the ball first time, he dallied and his eventual effort was blocked.  On the other hand, Villa made the most of their chance when Bacuna was given time, on their right wing, to cross into the box with pace.  Benteke got across the front of Fazio at the near post and headed at goal across Vorm to the far post, where the ball struck the upright and went into the goal on the other side.  Defensively it was a poor goal to concede and belied all the things that Spurs had prided themselves on previously this season.

Kane wasn't getting much service up front, so was turning provider again, this time putting Eriksen in on the edge of the box, but under pressure from two defenders, he skied his shot way over again.  Rose battled away on the left to reach Chadli's pass, lose the ball, win the ball back and then hit s shot wildly wide with his right foot from outside the area.  Then Kane came inside from the left wing to hit a speculative shot from 30 yards, which had power, but not direction and was straight at Guzan, who patted the ball down before gathering it.  Eriksen was again too high, as he seemed to have lost his range-finder, but despite Tottenham playing more in the Villa half, it was the visitors who went closest to scoring next.  A straight pass through the middle of the Spurs defence saw Agbonlahor away between Dier and Fazio.  As he reached the edge of the box, Vorm had come out to narrow the angles, making the forward shoot and fortunately for Spurs it was against the post and out this time.  The Midlands side had one more shot before the end of the first half, with Delph putting a shot over from outside the area without unduly troubling Vorm.

As the half-time whistle blew, there was some random booing, but with 45 minutes still remaining, you hoped it wouldn't be that bad again.  What came was only marginally better, but still Tottenham failed to trouble the scorers.

Villa had an opening five minutes into the second half, when a corner fell to Ron Vlaar and he took it early, but couldn't keep it down and it cleared two goal heights as it sailed into the Park Lane end.  Spurs rarely threatened the Villa goal and failed to get a shot on target in the second half.  Townsend put a fierce cross in from the right and Kane just failed to get a head on it at the near post, then Chadli did get a head to a free-kick from a corner from Townsend, but put it wide.

Sanchez, who had been going in with excessive force most of the game, got a yellow card for kicking Mason up in the air and although the free-kick came to nothing, shortly after Kane turned neatly in the area and curled a shot over the bar, touching the top of the netting as it went.  Pochettino brought on Soldado for Chadli, as he looked to add some more threat in attack.  Roberto did start linking up well with Kane and later Lamela when he came on for Townsend, but failed to get any service himself.  In fact, Spurs were indebted to him when he was in the right place to head Baker's header from a corner off the Spurs goal-line.

Bentaleb did well to get to he ball first to stop Benteke latching onto a through ball, then Fazio nodded over a Townsend corner.  While Spurs were getting into some decent  wide positions, the delivery of balls into the box was poor.  Either failing to pick out a white shirt or not beating the first man and the same could be said for the majority of our corners too.  Something must be done on the training ground, as our conversion rate from corners must be really poor.

Kane shot over when the ball may have been running to Townsend's left foot and in a better shooting position before Pochettino made a double substitution.  Lamela replaced Townsend and DeAndre Yedlin came on for Chirches to make his debut, with fans around us shouting "U-S-A", as opposed to the rest of the team, who might have been on the end of the chant "U-S-Less". 

Lamela was almost picked out by Kane's pass, but Guzan rushed out to dive at his feet and claim the ball.  To be honest, that was about the only thing Guzan rushed to do, as the ref must have spoken to him about five times abut taking ages over goal-kicks, but Probert failed to actually show him a card.  As time went on, Vlaar had a free header at a corner and put it wide, Weimann broke free on the right of the box and hit a weak shot at Vorm at the near post and then, although Yedlin had little chance to show what he was about, he almost committed a foul when he was the last man trying to make a tackle on Delph, who was free on goal in the box, but it was enough to put off the striker and his shot was beaten over the bar by Vorm.

Soldado almost put Lamela through in the area, but Vlaar's tackle took the ball out off the Argentine and it was a goal-kick.  It was that sort of day and it looked like Spurs wouldn't score if they played until it got dark.  The only bit of light relief came when Sanchez committed a rash and senseless foul on the halfway line, as Rose was running forward and got a second yellow and will miss next week's FA Cup semi-final.

The performance was so poor today.  I don't think Sherwood out-smarted us, it was another game where it didn't take too much to beat us.  BUrnely couldn't do it, but Villa managed it.

Whether the team have hit the wall and are tired and cannot continue to put in performances with tempo or impose the pressing game on opponents, I don't know.  They are only on one game a week now, rather then the Thursday/Sunday regime when they were still in Europe, so they should have recovery time between matches.  Eriksen has faded from the influential player he had been, Bentaleb and Mason play sloppy passes in dangerous positions, Chadli and Townsend produce little for Kane, who is now being more tightly marked and has not had much support in his lone striker role.  If the players are not performing, perhaps Poch needs to shake things up and plan for next season with the players who he considers worthy of being there next term.

Whatever happens, Spurs need to push on to get some results before the end of the season ... unless this is some cunning plan to finish 8th and out of the Europa League qualifying positions !!

Pete Stachio




Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood was accidentally sacked by Spurs at the end of last season when chairman Daniel Levy said 'We want you to stay out' instead of 'We want you to stay' at the club.

Since Tim Sherwood took over at Aston Villa, he has the best percentage win record of any Aston Villa manager this season.


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What you thought
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Other scores during this week :
Burnley 0 Arsenal 1 Saturday
Southampton 2 Hull City 0 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Crystal Palace 4 Saturday
Swansea City 1 Everton 1 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 2 Leicester City 3 Saturday
West Ham United 1 Stoke City 1 Saturday
Manchester United 4 Manchester City 2 Sunday
QPR 0 Chelsea 1 Sunday
Newcastle United - - - -day
Liverpool - - - -day




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 31 22 7 2 65 26 73 +39
2 Arsenal 32 20 6 6 63 32 66 +31
3 Manchester United 32 19 8 5 59 30 65 +29
4 Manchester City 32 18 7 7 65 34 61 +31
5 Southampton 32 17 5 10 43 22 56 +21
6 Liverpool 31 16 6 9 45 36 54 +9
7 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 32 16 6 10 50 46 54 +4
8 Swansea City 32 13 8 11 38 40 47 -2
9 West Ham United 32 11 10 11 41 41 43 0
10 Stoke City 32 12 7 13 37 40 43 -4
11 Crystal Palace 32 11 9 12 42 43 42 -1
12 Everton 32 9 11 12 40 43 38 -3
13 Newcastle United 31 9 8 14 32 48 35 -16
14 West Bromwich Albion 32 8 9 15 30 46 33 -16
15 Aston Villa 33 8 8 17 24 45 32 -21
16 Sunderland 32 5 14 13 25 48 29 -23
17 Hull City 32 6 10 16 29 45 28 -16
18 QPR 33 7 5 21 38 59 26 -21
19 Burnley 32 5 11 16 26 49 26 -23
20 Leicester City 31 6 7 18 32 51 25 -19


Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  7th
Position after the weekend :  7th


* Pub facts may not actually be true, but after a few pints everyone will think so.


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