Aston Villa (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 14th October 2006

With three home wins out of three and with Tottenham having lost all three of their away matches, the outcome of this match might be all too clear to predict.

However, what the stats fail to say is that Tottenham's last two games have been won (albeit at home) and this has boosted confidence, especially with the return of Ledley King to the back four.

The only downside to this has been the international break, which not only interrupted the upturn in results, but also has brought injury problems for Spurs.  King had a reaction to his knee surgery following the Macedonia match and Jermain Defoe picked up a foot injury against Croatia, leaving Jol with fewer options up front.

With fewer players involved in international action, Villa will be a bit fresher than the Spurs players.  One of the home side who did feature in a Euro 2008 qualifier will be available to Villa more than Bulgaria in the future, as Stilian Petrov has refused to play for his country any longer while Hristo Stoichkov is still in charge.

A couple of familiar faces in claret and blue will be missing, as Kevin Phillips has left to join fellow Midlands side West Bromwich Albion and Lee Hendrie has also moved within the area to Potteries side Stoke City on loan.  Added to some injury worries, with keeper Thomas Sorensen out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, the same affliction as Luke Moore and William Bouma's hamstring pull ruling him out with Mark Delaney having had a knee op, it is a side that might look a little unfamiliar to some Spurs fans.

Young England Under-21striker Gabriel Agbonlahor has been getting rave reviews and he is fast, can finish, but sometimes when he drifts wide, his decision making and final ball are not of the highest quality yet.  He is likely to be paired up front with Juan Pablo Angel, who has been back in the goals since Martin O'Neill took over.  Both are tall, with good ability on the ball, but Angel lacks a little in pace.  However, he has a good scoring record against us.  Having played for the Czech Republic in midweek, Milan Baros will be looking to get back into the Villa side on a regular basis.  He has good awareness of where other players are and a bit of speed that can take him away from defences, given the space.  New signing Chris Sutton will not yet be properly match fit, as the time he spent unattached after being released by Birmingham City means he lacked match play.

The midfield area looks strong, with Petrov having played a significant part in Villa's revival since O'Neill brought him down from Celtic, where he had originally signed him.  A creative ball player, he is dangerous, without being able to run away from opponents with the ball, he can find space in tight situations to make himself or someone else a shooting opportunity.  He is joined by the hard-working Irishman Steve Davis and the tougher Gareth Barry.  Both have been child prodigies at Villa Park and both have yet to fully fulfil their potential, although Barry is suddenly being talked about as an England prospect ... which after Wednesday night might not be a bad shout.  Even tougher nut Gareth McCann last season spent his time in the game at White Hart Lane trying to kick Edgar Davids, so someone in midfield can expect the same attention if he starts and Patrik Berger is still there, albeit a fringe member of the squad these days, as is Eric Djemba-Djemba, who has made it clear that he wants out after failing to make any impact on the side since his move from Manchester United.

At the back, there is an injury doubt about Jlloyd Samuel (thigh), Gary Cahill (knee) and Bouma (hamstring), leaving few options for Martin O'Neill to select from.  Strapping Swedish centre-half Olaf Mellberg has been a regular starter alongside Liam Ridgwell.  Mellberg might find nippy opponents more tricky than the traditional big centre-forward, as they are too his liking.  Ridgwell has suffered against the more physical forward, but also has trouble with pace.  Hopefully, Jermain will pull through the knock he got and feature to give them the run-around with Berbatov, as this would be the best pairing against Villa in my opinion.  Former Newcastle United man Aaron Hughes has been used and Martin Laursen, now restored to fitness, has also been getting games to ease him back into the action.  With Didier Agathe another signing from Celtic, he may be pressed into action in a defensive position rather than the attacking wide role he made his name in North of the border.

Behind all of them has been Thomas Sorensen ... until now.  He has been in good form, especially in the match against Chelsea, but an injury picked up playing for Denmark against Northern Ireland might mean he misses out in this game.  His absence will mean an opportunity for Stuart Taylor, who was on Arsenal's books.  A tall keeper, he has had little Premiership experience, so if he does play, Spurs need to put him under pressure to test his nerve as well as his keeping ability.

Villa have drawn more game sin the Premiership than any other team, so with that in mind and Tottenham keen to keep the run of results going, I reckon it could mean a comeback from going a goal down to grab a useful away point, which will be the way that Tottenham will need to go to catch up on the points they have lost so far in this campaign.

PREDICTION : -  Aston Villa  1   Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


ASTON VILLA :  Thomas Sorensen (shoulder); Luke Moore (shoulder); Mark Delaney (knee); Wilfred Bouma (hamstring)

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Teemu Tainio (hernia); Steed Malbranque (hernia); Aaron Lennon (knee)


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Aston Villa   1   Tottenham Hotspur    1      (Half-time score : 0-0)

Premier League
Venue : -  Villa Park
Saturday 14th October 2006
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   42,551
Referee :  Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire)
Weather :  -  Overcast, dull
Teams : - 
Aston Villa :


Barry (c)

Davis (Berger 76)

Baros (Agathe 64)

Unused subs

Tottenham Hotspur :

Robinson (c)

Dawson (Stalteri 52)

Ghaly (Lennon 60)

Berbatov (Davids 77)

Unused subs

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Aston Villa

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Aston Villa

Barry 81

Tottenham Hotspur

Angel (own goal) 76

Cards : -  
Aston Villa



Tottenham Hotspur 

Ghaly (foul) -   

Davenport (professional foul) 73 

Match Report : -  
With a mad minute in the second half, the game turned one way and quickly the other, but although the advantage went to Tottenham, in the end, they had to settle for a draw and a point from an encounter they could well have taken three from.

Spurs certainly had enough chances in the first half, but in the end were reliant on Paul Robinson to pull out a top drawer save from Angel near the end, having lost both central defenders for one reason or another.

It all started badly for Calum Davenport, on a ground where he saw his first action for Tottenham and continued in much the same vein for the remainder of his time on the pitch.  In the first minute Angel, who also had a major influence on the result, lifted his foot and made connection with Davenport's nose, which he broke.  He continued to play on with bloody cotton wool trying to staunch the flow of blood, which precipitated him changing shirts three times.

While not in greats coring form, Jermain Defoe looks sharp enough up front at the moment, as he took Danny Murphy's pass, turned neatly and was thwarted with a curling effort by Taylor's save.  Villa's front two were lively too, with Baros setting up Angel for a shooting opportunity, but it was a routine save for Robbo, as it was hit straight at him.  Spurs were passing the ball well and created good openings, but failed to take them, in what is becoming the story of the season.

Murphy floated in a free-kick and Jenas knocked it on, with Dawson coming in at the far post, all he had to do was get it on target, but he hit the post with his header and the chance was gone.  Jenas then had a drive go wide himself from distance, while another good opportunity came from another Murphy free-kick.  From a similar position, he put it in again and Davenport flicked the ball on to the far post, where Hossam Ghaly came in and Taylor just got to the shot before the ball hit the post.

It was nearly all Tottenham and Zokora opened up the play by bringing Ghaly into play, from which he set up Berbatov, who curled a shot from the edge of the box over the top, then Defoe harried Hughes to intercept his clearance, then headed for goal and only another good effort by Taylor beat away his drive.  Jermaine Jenas put Taylor under more pressure with a shot from a long way out, but it bounced nastily in front of the keeper, who had to hang onto it.

Just before the break, Villa started to get into the game a bit more and Angel first had a shot that curled wide and then found himself in the box, but looked at a loss as to what to do and the opening passed without any threat to the Tottenham goal.

The second half started much the same as the first, with Angel once more getting amongst our centre-halves, this time catching Dawson on the head with his knee and he stunned Michael, who had a similar knock against Portsmouth in the last game.  While Daws tried to play on, he only lasted a couple of minutes and had to leave the field to be replaced by Paul Stalteri, who went straight to his accustomed right-back position, with Pascal Chimbonda moving inside to centre-half.  To add to the misery, Ghaly was booked for a foul on Baros, with this being a continuation of his first half performance, when he might well have picked up a yellow card earlier.  It proved to be his last involvement, as he pulled a hamstring and was soon replaced by Aaron Lennon, coming back into the team much sooner than thought after his cartilage operation.

Gavin McCann let fly from a long way out and his shot went high over the crossbar, while Angel volleyed wide before substitute Didier Agathe crossed for starlet Gabriel Agbonlahor to head at the far post, but Chimbonda did well to block and Robinson finished it off by pushing the ball away.  But Spurs hit back with Defoe taking on the defence and hitting a shot too high, then Murphy tested Taylor with a shot before the action too off.

As Agbonlahor broke through chasing Angel's header, Calum Davenport challenged and looked not to have touched the striker, but referee Atkinson decided otherwise and pointed to the spot.  To add insult to injury, he also produced the red card for Davenport, as he was deemed to be the last defender and therefore, Spurs were reduced to ten men.  Having to face a penalty too, things looked bad, but as Juan Pablo Angel stepped up to take it, his nerve must have gone (having missed from the spot already this season) and his shot went high and wide of Paul Robinson's goal.  Relief was felt throughout the big Spurs support, but they could not have dreamed what would happen next.

Within 90 seconds the game was turned on it's head.  Tottenham went up the other end and without looking threatening won a corner on the right wing.  Jermain Defoe swung it in and rising at the near post, it was headed into the net by ... Angel !!  Spurs were 1-0 ahead through the most unlikely of means and when you saw that there were nine (count them) Villa players between the goal and the nearest Spurs player, it is hard to see how it happened, but we were pleased it did, as we were having trouble scoring ourselves.  All we had to do then was hang on with ten men.

Easier said than done for Spurs.  Davids replaced Berbatov as Jol went for one up front, but this did not help, as it allowed Villa to step up the pace and attack Spurs for the remaining 15 minutes.  Defoe had a shot saved soon after the goal, but the attacks from the home side came in quick succession and Tottenham held out for five minutes before Gareth Barry cut in from the left to curl a delightful goal from the edge fo the box with his right foot over Robinson and in to level the scores.

It was after this that Robbo came into his won and showed why is ENO.  While Stilian Petrov was wide with one effort on goal from around the penalty spot, he was on target near the end.  Barry's cross fell and sat up nicely for Angel to strike a full-bloodied shot from ten yards out, but the Spurs keeper stood tall and palmed the ball up into the air and was quick enough to get up to save Petrov's rebound effort.

Spurs did have one final chance when Defoe raced through on goal, but was pulled back by the linesman's flag, although the Tottenham striker looked like he was in his won half when the ball was passed to him.

A draw seemed to be a fair result on the face of it, but it was a game that could have yielded more for Tottenham and with a bit more adventure (helped by the return of Lennon), hopefully we might be able to make more of the sort of domination we had in this game.


Kirk Hammerton



Reaction : -





Other scores this weekend :
Arsenal 3 Watford 0 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 1 Liverpool 1 Saturday
Manchester City 0 Sheffield United 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Everton 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 2 West Ham United 0 Saturday
Reading 0 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester United 3 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Bolton Wanderers 2 Sunday
Fulham 2 Charlton Athletic 1 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 8 6 1 1 17 5 19 +12
2 Chelsea 8 6 1 1 13 4 19 +9
3 Bolton Wanderers 8 5 2 1 9 4 17 +5
4 Portsmouth 8 5 1 2 12 3 16 +9
5 Arsenal 7 4 2 1 11 4 14 +7
6 Aston Villa 8 3 5 0 10 5 14 +5
7 Everton 8 3 4 1 13 8 13 +5
8 Reading 8 4 1 3 9 8 13 +1
9 Blackburn Rovers 8 3 3 2 9 10 12 -1
10 Fulham 8 3 3 2 10 13 12 -3
11 Liverpool 8 3 2 3 9 9 11 0
12 Manchester City 8 2 3 3 6 9 9 -3
13 Middlesbrough 8 2 2 4 8 13 8 -5
14 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 8 2 2 4 5 10 8 -5
15 Newcastle United 8 2 1 5 7 12 7 -5
16 Sheffield United 8 1 3 4 4 10 6 -6
17 Wigan Athletic 7 1 2 4 7 12 5 -5
18 West Ham United 8 1 2 5 6 12 5 -6
19 Watford 8 0 4 4 7 13 4 -6
20 Charlton Athletic 8 1 0 7 6 15 3 -9



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