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
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.
THE HEATHROW SPUR