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Premier League

Monday 15th September 2008

Two much changed sides from last season's 4-4 draw at the Lane will take to the field to try and enhance their reputation in this season that is important for both clubs.

For Spurs, it is Juande Ramos' first full season in charge and having lost his strike-force, he will be seeking to reshape the way the team play and for Martin O'Neill, he is reaping the benefits of the large amount of money that Randy Lerner had put into the club, so has to get something out of the newly formed side.

With Brad Friedel coming in from Blackburn Rovers, O'Neill has tried to shore up a defence which was quite leaky last season, having replaced the out-going Olof Mellberg with Glasgow Rangers' centre-half Carlos Cuellar.  He was highly rated in Scotland and Villa paid 8 million for him, so it will be interesting to see how he copes in the Premier League, especially as the Spaniard is expected to be making his debut in this match.  Tightening up the defence also meant buying Luke Young from Middlesbrough and Nicky Shorey from Reading to fill in the full back slots.  Both have had England experience and are Premiership experienced.  Perhaps more notably for this match, both have scored against Spurs in the recent past.  In the middle of defence alongside Cuellar is likely to be Curtis Davies, another recent signing, who is expected to have a big future in the game.  Indeed, Tottenham were looking at him both when he left Luton Town and when he joined Villa from West Bromwich Albion, but seemed put off by the big price tag.  Strong in the air in defence and attack, he is pacy and has a good passing ability.  Other options at the back include giant central defender Zat Knight and Craig Gardner, who can also double up as a midfielder.  Martin Laursen might still be a consideration in the middle of the back four, with his two goals against Spurs here last season making him a threat from set-pieces.

The midfield is likely to be run by Nigel Reo-Coker, who is finding a new lease of life after an unhappy split from West Ham United.  He is an industrious player and a good passer, playing in a holding midfield role to allow other to get forward.  These include the two wide men - Ashley Young and James Milner, as well as his midfield partner Gareth Barry.  For the England man, he has had a turbulent summer, but now he is staying at Villa Park, he has knuckled down and has played quite a few games for club and country.  He works hard and uses the ball well, but lacks pace (as does Reo-Coker) and Spurs might exploit this through the middle of the midfield.  Wide, it might be more difficult with Ashley Young, Wayne Routledge and the hard working Milner give them pace up the flanks.  Young is a tricky winger and Milner more direct, so there will be tough tasks for Bale and probably Corluka at full back.  Routledge might be held on the bench for late in the game, so it will be interesting to see him play, as he didn't get a lot of chance to do so when he was at Spurs.

Bulgarian Stiliyan Petrov has featured recently and he is a good passer, with a good shot on him too.  I don't know much about Togolese international Moustapha Salifou, but he was worth waiting for a work permit for and they have high hopes for him at the club.

The forwards of John Carew, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marlon Harewood give a mix of problems for opposing defences.  Carew, tall and strong, makes a focal point for the attack and Agbonlahor adds pace and trickery on the floor.  His goal for England Under-21s in the week showed he has the ability to hold off defenders when going for goal.  Harewood is a more typical "old-fashioned" forward and his strength is his strength, but he can unsettle defenders with his approach.

Spurs are currently sitting bottom of the table and are the only side in the league without a win.  The problem with the attack has now been sorted out, so the inclusion of Pavlyuchenko and/or Fraizer Campbell might give Tottenham more options for the midfielders to find.  Roman looks like he wants to get shots on goal and Campbell is a good finisher, so there might be some work for the Villa back four and keeper to do.

However, it will not be as open as last season.  The game will be more cagey and will be decided by one goal ... hopefully in our favour ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur  1    Aston Villa  0

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


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  - (-); - (-); - (-); 

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


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

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Monday 15th September 2008
Kick Off :  8.00 p.m.
Crowd :   36,075
Referee :  Steve Bennett (Orpington)
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Dry, mild
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

22  Corluka
39  Woodgate (c)
20  Dawson       (17  Giovani 62)
  3  Bale

  7  Lennon
  4  Zokora (  5  Bentley 46)
  6  Huddlestone
14  Modric (  8  Jenas 29)

  9  Pavlyuchenko
10  Bent 

Unused subs: 
21  Cesar Sanchez
11  Gilberto
18  Campbell
24  O'Hara 

Aston Villa :

  1  Friedel

  2  L. Young
  5  Laursen
15  Davies
21  Shorey      (26  Gardner 88)

  7  A. Young      
19  Petrov
20  Reo-Coker (c) 
  6  Barry

11  Agbonlahor      (  9  Harewood 84)
10  Carew      (  8  Milner 63)

Unused subs: 
22  Guzan
16  Knight
18  Routledge
24  Cuellar

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

  Aston Villa
Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Bent 87

Aston Villa

Reo-Coker 5
A. Young 54

Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Dawson (foul) 60



Aston Villa

Shorey (foul) 21
Carew (foul) 51
Agbonlahor (feigning injury) 83
Young (time-wasting) 90  


Match Report : -  
Another poor performance in terms of effort and shape let Spurs stay bottom of the table with another 1-2 defeat, this time at the hands of Aston Villa.  It was nothing more than Tottenham deserved and even a late consolation goal, which encouraged the search for an equaliser was fortunate and more than we might have hoped for.

Spurs looked disjointed in their play and for all the change of formation to two up front with two banks of four behind them, there was a lack of cover for players going forward.  Villa played some good football, but the key to their success was their closing down, which is something you would have hoped Tottenham were capable of after their long pre-season fitness training.

But an early goal conceded left Tottenham chasing the game.  Both goals were soft ones to give away.  Space on the Villa left gave Agbonlahor the chance to pull the ball back low behind the Spurs defenders for Carew to step over and leave Bale torn between trying to get to Barry or Reo-Coker at the far post and it fell to the captain to side foot home for a simple finish.  Five minutes gone and Spurs were behind again.

The second goal came in the second half, when the possession was conceded far too easily (and not for the first time) and Ashley Young used his pace to run unchallenged from the halfway line and around a square on Dawson before letting go a shot from 25 yards out.  It was low, but should have been saved, but Gomes (who had played very well until that point) failed to get a good hand to the ball and could only palm it as it went into the net.  Once more the old failing of letting players run at our defenders and shooting without a challenge came back to haunt us.

To be honest, Villa could have won by five or six.  In the first half a deflected Reo-Coker cross wrong-footed Gomes and hit the outside of the near post and the Brazilian keeper made two very good one handed saves from close-in headers by Barry and Agbonlahor to keep the score down to 0-1 at the break.  Towards the end as Spurs sought to get a goal to get back into the game, Aston Villa hit on the break using the pace of Agbonlahor and Young, causing problems for our back men.  Better use of the ball by Reo-Coker when Tottenham were outnumbered at the back could have created two more good chances and one amazing scramble saw Bale and Jenas thwart Harewood, who should really have scored.

For Spurs, there were few positives to take from the game.  Modric looked frail as the lack of a midfield general causes this part of our team to look light-weight.  Lennon and Bentley failed to deliver enough quality balls into the box, leaving the front two without a decent supply of chances and their link-up play looked evidently undeveloped.

Any opportunities Spurs did create were few and far between.  When Friedel dropped a cross, nobody was there to capitalise and when Pavlyuchenko tried an overhead kick, Bennett (who had a poor game) ruled it dangerous play.  Funny that when Ashley Young did the same to clear the ball in his own area, nothing was given.  Roman manoeuvred himself a shooting chance, it was blocked, although his movement was good despite him fading in the second half.

Tottenham failed to play on Lennon's running on Shorey after the former Reading man crudely chopped Aaron down as he skipped past him.  With another mis-times tackle meaning a dismissal for the full-back, he was given some respite, as Spurs failed to feed Lennon.  Jenas looked an improvement on Modric, who was playing out of position on the left and Giovani at least was willing to run at players when he came on, although his final ball lacked the right choice sometimes.  Tom Huddlestone needs to start dominating games and proving he can be the player we all know he can be.  Too often he was playing in a different manner to how he plays for England Under-21s, when he imposes himself on the game.  There was far too little movement and that left players without a pass on and with Villa working hard, quite often the ball had to be released early ... straight to a claret and blue shirt.

Despite pushing for an equaliser at the end, few players were willing to have a shot, instead choosing to pass the responsibility on.  This meant that some chances were lost and a couple of corners in added time almost conjured up a repeat of last season, with some goalmouth scrambles coming to nothing.  Other than the goal, which came when Jenas' volley from outside the box struck Bent and without him knowing it, deflected into the net with Friedel left standing, there were few other shots.  Huddlestone's first half drive on 35 minutes brought a first save from the Villa keeper, although it was at a nice height for the American.  Lennon's shot might have just dipped under the bar before Friedel touched it over.  At the end, Woodgate's back-pass without looking where Gomes was almost went past the keeper into the net, but luckily went wide and Bale had to make amends for the first goal by making two good last ditch blocks to prevent Villa getting shots on target.

Vedran Corluka looked poor on this showing, but he has not been at the club long, so hopefully he will settle in and get better.  Modric needs to be played in his best position, like he did at Chelsea and the partnership between Pavlyuchenko and Bent can only get better as they play more together.  That won't be in Thursday's game as the Russian is cup-tied and Campbell might well partner Bent up front.

With one point from five games, it is, as every media outlet is telling us, the worst start for 34 years.  Nobody should think the game on Sunday will be a stroll, as Wigan will be determined to deny Spurs space and time to play.  A lot of planning will need to go into the training before then to make sure we get something out of the game.



Reaction : -



I cannot believe the players Ramos is picking to start games and where he is playing certain players, for instance:

At home to Villa, bottom of Prem, starts with two defensive holding players (Huddlestone and Zokora), then when he finally gets Jenas on, he puts him on left !

Done similar v Sunderland, starting the wrong players in the wrong positions, Bent alone up-front !

Comolli should be shot for the mugs he's bought !  And 16.5m for Bent, outrageous !

Comolli's transfer activity was too little too late, we have no strength in the middle to win the ball, desperately need a tough centre midfield player and we are a striker and a centre half short !

And someone please tell me what team in the Prem could afford to lose two world class strikers as we have in the same season and to rivals too.  Great planning that one!









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



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



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