Aston Villa
Premier League

Sunday 15th March 2009


With Aston Villa in the top four and Spurs closer to the bottom four, it is a topsy turvy table that greets fans going to this game.

There is no doubt that up until recently, Villa have deserved their placing in the league, but a run of six games without a win has left them knocked back and with the core of the team that has served them throughout the season to date, looking jaded and lacking the stamina to go the full distance.

It looks as though Emile Heskey will be fit and the presence of Ledley King might give Spurs a more resolute central defensive pairing to counteract his physical approach and the pace of Agbonlahor, while the return of Benoit Assou-Ekotto might need to be on his toes to defend against the wing play of James Milner and Vedran Corluka will be tested by Ashley Young.

The midfield central pairing of Gareth Barry and Stiliyan Petrov provide a mix of skill and graft, which will mean a busy afternoon for Wilson Palacios.  I think Harry might put Didier Zokora in the team somewhere, as his pace was effective against the threat of Stewart Downing when we played Middlesbrough and he might be deployed to play against Young or Milner from midfield.

The defence will be missing Martin Laursen, who is injured, as well as his contribution to the attacking efforts from set-pieces, but Wilfred Bouma might be back at full back, with Zat Knight and Curtis Davies providing height against the Spurs attack of Robbie Keane and Roman Pavyluchenko.  With Keano dropping off the Russian centre forward, he might find some spaces to orchestrate things from and with Luke Young on the other flank, Aaron Lennon might find some joy in running at him or Bouma.  Either way, there should be chances for both sides in what might be an entertaining game.  Spurs can't defend, so attack is their best form of getting anything from the game, while Villa need to go for the win to maintain their fourth place.

There may be more space than you might expect, so I am taking the view that there will be goals ...

PREDICTION : -  Aston Villa  2     Tottenham Hotspur   2

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


ASTON VILLA :  - Martin Laursen (knee); Steve Sidwell (knee); - (-); - (-); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -   Jermain Defoe (foot); Alan Hutton (foot); Ledley King (knee); - (-); - (-); - (-); 


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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




Aston Villa   1   Tottenham Hotspur    2      (Half-time score : 0-1)

Premier League
Venue : -  Villa Park
Sunday 15th March 2009
Kick Off :  4.00 p.m.
Crowd :   41,205
Referee :  Steve Bennett (Orpington)
Aston Villa kicked off and Spurs played towards the Holte end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, mild
Teams : - 
Aston Villa :

  1  Friedel

  2  L. Young
24  Cuellar
16  Knight  (10  Carew 59  )
20  Reo-Coker     

  8  Milner
  6  Barry (c)
19  Petrov
  7  A. Young

18  Heskey  (26  Gardner 82)
11  Agbonlahor  (14  Delfueneso 74)

Unused subs: 
22  Guzan
  9  Harewood
15  Davies
21  Shorey

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

  4  Zokora       (22  Corluka  35)
39  Woodgate
26  King
32  Assou-Ekotto

14 Modric        (24  O'Hara 82)
  8  Jenas 
12  Palacios
  7  Lennon

10  Bent 
15  Keane  (c)      

Unused subs: 
25  Cudicini
20  Dawson
  5  Bentley
  6  Huddlestone
  9  Pavlyuchenko

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Aston Villa

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Aston Villa

Carew 85

Tottenham Hotspur

Jenas 5
Bent 50

Cards : -  
Aston Villa

Reo-Coker (foul) 54



Tottenham Hotspur 

Zokora (foul) 23
Modric (kicking ball away)  68
Keane (kicking ball away)  70


Match Report : -  
With a goal at the start of each half, Tottenham made this look like a competent victory, but it was only in the second half, when they controlled play that the game looked a little more comfortable until a late goal threatened to spoil the Spurs party.

While it was no classic performance from Spurs, they showed a counter-attacking nous that Villa could not live with and with almost two thirds of the possession in the first period, the home side failed to seriously trouble the Tottenham goal until just before half time.

It was perhaps a little ironic that when the Villa fans were booing Spurs for time-wasting that in our first attack, the ball went off for a throw in near the corner flag and as Robbie Keane went to take it quickly, at Knight kicked the ball away.  In the first couple of minutes of the game the punishment was not even a talking to.  Unfortunately, the Villa crowd (and where were they a couple of seasons ago when they couldn't sell out their own home section of the ground ?) are not the best in terms of understanding the game.  They booed Tottenham for time-wasting, but Martin O'Neill has mastered the art with his sides down the years.  A couple of bookings for Spurs for kicking the ball away and still Villa escaped punishment when their players did the same.  Don't even start me on the ease of Heskey's falls.

But it was what went on when we had the ball and did play that hit Villa where it hurt.  The ball was played through Keane and Jenas to Lennon on the right wing.  he moved past Luke Young and without getting to the by-line, he whipped in a waist high cross that Friedel could only push out and Jermaine Jenas had continued his run into the box to dive in to head the loose ball home.  Juts five minutes gone and it could have been the last minute of the League Cup Final at Wembley against Leicester City.  Martin O'Neill was the manager, Kasey Keller the keeper and Allan Nielsen the scorer, but the construction of the goal was much the same.

After that, it was much like what had preceded the final minute in the game at Wembley, with Spurs chasing shadows and the opposition having a lot of the ball.  Perversely, they made few clear openings.  Petrov drove one over the top, Heskey got to Ashley Young's near post cross, but was too close to turn it in and when that Young did pull one back into the box, Spurs managed to block it out to Barry, whose first time effort was well turned aside by Heurelho Gomes.

The home supporters bayed for a penalty when Lennon made contact with Barry as he went into the box, but it was another soft fall.  The Tottenham defence was closing ranks to deny Villa a way through and while Zokora had been drafted in to deal with the pace of Ashley Young, he was finding the winger's trickery a problem and got a yellow card, which was going to make his task harder.

Spurs did manage to create a shooting opportunity for Jenas, who drove at goal, but Carlos Cuellar got in the way, with Jenas returning to the other end to act as blocker when Luke Young struck a shot on goal.  The Spurs midfielder gave a fine box-to-box display, only spoiled by his nonchalance in giving the ball away, but on this display he was not the one guilty party of that fault.  Modric, Keane, Palacios and Bent were all too lax in their passing on some occasions.  Jenas had another go from inside the box, but his shot had the sting taken off it by a block before it got to Friedel.

Harry Redknapp decided that Zokora's effectiveness against Young was suspect and he replaced him with Charlie Corluka.  It caused a bit of concern, as the Croatian is not the quickest thing on two legs and Young is.  However, the central defenders - King and Woodgate - were doing really well and a couple of crosses were picked out of the air by Gomes (one when he was hit by Heskey, making no effort to go for the ball) and a couple he punched well.

Ashley Young tried a couple of shots on goal, but failed to trouble Gomes, while Bent was making some good runs to provide an out ball and one almost took him away from Cuellar and nearly set up Keane.  A coupe of minutes before the break, Jenas played Modric in through the right hand channel of the penalty area and he chose to shoot and bring a save from the Villa keeper, but might better have pulled it back square to Keane, who was right in front of goal just four yards out.  It was almost a costly piece of poor decision making, as firstly Petrov was set up by Heskey and his low shot was prodded straight at Gomes, then the keeper was beaten when Barry lobbed a ball to the far post and Heskey got to it, looping a header onto the angle of crossbar and post.  Luckily, the ball bounced away.

Half time saw the team trudge off after a hard working 45 minutes and with a week's rest behind them, it was going to be interesting to see how they coped with the second half.  But there was not a lot to worry about, although we didn't realise that when the team kicked off the second half.  Some early pressure from a couple of dead ball situations were to be expected, as Villa were determined to use the battering ram Heskey as a target man.  However, without any hint of a problem, Aaron Lennon cut inside from the right wing and ran across the face of the penalty box.  As he was closed down, he nudged the ball onto Wilson Palacios, who had a couple of shots blocked in the first half and the Honduran midfielder's effort was pushed away by Friedel at full stretch.  However, he pushed it wide to where Robbie Keane reacted and as he tried to slip the ball past the goalie, Darren Bent arrived on the scene to poke the ball across the line from six inches out and make it 2-0 to Spurs with five minutes on the clock in the second half.

It was more than could have been expected and the home crowd sank into silence, except for one exception later.  Lennon was causing mayhem among the Villa defenders and Reo-Coker hauled him down to get a yellow card, while the little man drove back a cleared free-kick and Friedel could only stand as the shot ripped past him and dipped narrowly over to hit the stanchion at the back of the goal.

O'Neill was worried with just an hour gone and threw on Jon Carew for defender Knight, with the prospect of a string of high balls being thrown into the Tottenham box, but they failed to materialise on the whole.  Mainly because Spurs were breaking with pace and numbers and were not giving the ball away as cheaply as the first half.  Corluka's ball from the right across the box was meant for Lennon, but he missed it, Keane left it and it fell into the path of Luka Modric, who hit a rising shot that Friedel managed to keep out.

Five minutes after an hour had passed and Gomes had his most difficult moment of the second half, with Petrov's shot being deflected and hitting the Spurs keeper on the chest and bouncing away.  The home fans in the Villa Park crowd got what they wanted when Keane and Modric were both booked for kicking the ball away and went on to show their lack of insight into the game when they booed Gabriel Agbonlahor as he was substituted.  Villa have played with only a limited number of players this season and the tiredness that the England Under-21 striker might be feeling was of no concern to the Villa supporters.

It was Tottenham who were making it hard for Villa to play in the second half and Friedel was again in action in the 73rd minute, when Jenas and Corluka linked well to set up a shooting chance for Robbie Keane this time.  The number of chances Spurs were failing to take was a worry, as a late goal would make it a nervy finish.  And so it proved as another late goal was conceded.  Milner got away down the right and Assou-Ekotto failed to shut a man down for the first time in the game, allowing a high, hanging cross to the far post that invited Carew to jump above Woodgate and head powerfully past Gomes off the underneath of the bar.  Gomes had started to come, but made the right decision to go back, as he would not have got there.

Surprisingly, there was little excitement in the crowd and that was the same on the pitch, as the Villa players showed little urgency to try to go for a late equaliser, which they had been successful in earlier in the season in other home games.  So, Tottenham played the game out with some possession stuff at the Villa end and the final whistle brought a welcome, if unexpected three points to take Spurs into 11th place.

It was an impressive display, albeit lucky that Villa are in a woeful run of form of late, but it showed that with the hard work put in, Spurs are capable of dictating play for spells in a game and now they must learn to put games to bed and not allow the other side back in.





Reaction : -



Do you know what , I love it when Spurs prove me wrong.  Too many years as a suffering Spurs fan will tell you I was hoping at best a draw today.

Villa, after a 10 day break to Dubai, looking to claim that Champions League spot off Arsenal.  I thought our backs are against the walls in this one, but what a fantastic result.

With Chelsea next and other tough games to come , this is a result beyond my wildest dreams.  35 points now with nine games to go looks much much better.

What a result.  OK, so it helps Arsenal to claim that  final Champions League place , but am I worried ?  AM I F---.  









Other League scores this weekend :
Arsenal 4 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Fulham 3 Saturday
Everton 3 Stoke City 1 Saturday
Hull City 1 Newcastle United 1 Saturday
Manchester United 1 Liverpool 4 Saturday
Middlesbrough 1 Portsmouth 1 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Wigan Athletic 2 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Manchester City 0 Sunday
West Ham United 0 West Bromwich Albion 0 Monday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 28 20 5 3 49 16 65 +33
2 Chelsea 29 18 7 4 49 16 61 +33
3 Liverpool 29 17 10 2 49 21 61 +28
4 Arsenal 29 14 10 5 45 27 52 +19
5 Aston Villa 29 15 7 7 43 31 52 +12
6 Everton 29 13 9 7 39 29 48 +10
7 West Ham United 29 11 7 11 34 34 40 0
8 Wigan Athletic 29 10 8 11 29 28 38 +1
9 Fulham 29 9 10 10 28 26 37 +2
10 Manchester City 29 10 5 14 45 37 35 +8
11 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 29 9 8 12 35 34 35 +1
12 Bolton Wanderers 29 10 3 16 31 43 33 -12
13 Hull City 29 8 9 12 35 51 33 -16
14 Sunderland 29 8 8 13 29 38 32 -9
15 Blackburn Rovers 29 7 9 13 32 48 30 -16
16 Newcastle United 29 6 12 12 35 46 29 -11
17 Portsmouth 28 7 8 13 30 45 29 -15
18 Stoke City 29 7 8 14 28 47 29 -19
19 Middlesbrough 29 6 9 14 21 41 27 -20
20 West Bromwich Albion 29 6 5 18 25 54 23 -29


Position before the match :  12th
Position after Saturday's matches :  13th
Position after the match :  11th
Position after the weekend's matches :  11th

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