|DATE||Monday 21st November 2011|
|VENUE||White Hart Lane|
|A one goal
defeat would leave Aston Villa with a record of 12 played 3
won, six drawn and three lost, with a goal difference of 0 and 15
points. Surprised ?? Not really, as Aston Villa are the
just about the average Premier League side.
With former Spurs defender Alan Hutton and ex-Spurs striker Darren Bent due to play in the Villa side, there will be a few players with something to prove and there will also be one on the sidelines, with Jermaine Jenas ineligible to play for the Midlands club against us while on loan there. It will also be of concern to Harry Redknapp and his coaching team that Benoit Assou-Ekotto recently stated in his Evening Standard column that Spurs had to hold onto their best players unless they wanted to end up like Villa. That might just have written their pre-match team talk for them !!
But Tottenham are on a good run at the moment.
Gabriel Agbonlahor is hoping to recover from a hamstring pull to feature in attack with Bent, with Emile Heskey and Nathan Delfouneso also available to McLeish for selection. The battering ram that is Heskey might be a useful starting choice for Villa, with his physical presence likely to give Tottenham a few problems, but his limited mobility these days hampers any pace the Villains might want o inject into their attacking play.
Having lost Ashley Young and Stewart Downing to Man U and Liverpool in the summer, and with Barry Bannon suspended following police driving charges after he crashed on the M1, the options wide in midfield are much reduced. Marc Albrighton and Charles N'Zogbia are likely to fill these positions and they are both tricky wide-men, who like to take defenders on then try to hit a ball in for the forwards. N'Zogbia is still settling in after his move from Wigan Athletic and former Leeds youngster Fabian Delph has suffered injury while at Villa Park with both players linked with a move to Spurs in the past. Captain Stylian Petrov will start in the middle of the four midfielders, most likely with Stephen Ireland alongside him, unless McLeish chooses to go with youngster Chris Herd.
The back four are formed around Republic of Ireland pair Richard Dunne and Shay Given. Dunne noted for his own goals will take Adebayor as his man to mark, while van der Vaart - who has had great success against Villa - will drift behind the Togo striker and Villa will leave him to be picked up by James Collins as he moves forward. The former West Ham central defender is now approaching the sunset of his career and his pace might mean sharp play around the box could catch him on the turn and leave him exposed. Ciaran Clark has been played occasionally, but he might not be risked in this game, although Stephen Warnock will be at left back opposite Hutton on the right, playing with a steely determination he will have to face up to the twin attacking threat of a rejuvenated Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker. He likes to get forward, as does Hutton, but with the wide players Spurs possess, it might be that they have to try and concentrate on their defending.
In goal, Shay Given took over form our keeper Brad Friedel, when he left Villa on a free transfer. A solid keeper, who was stuck behind Joe Hart at Manchester City, the Irishman could have joined a number of teams, but opted for a first team place at Villa Park, using his experience and safe handling to try to build up some confidence, but they still leak goals, even losing two in their last game, a 3-2 win over Norwich City.
There should be some scope for Tottenham to get goals, but Bent will no doubt be on the mark against us to show what he could have done in the team, but I think there will be enough in Tottenham's game, with Bale and Modric playing very well and interchanging positions, to pose more than a few problems for the Villa back four and come out on top.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Aston Villa 1|
|Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Spurs hope to have Rafael van der Vaart fit after a twinge in his hamstring playing for Holland last week, while no other players are doubtful, but Tom Huddlestone (ankle), Danny Rose (ankle), Niko Kranjcar (thigh) and Michael Dawson (Achilles) are all long-term injured and will not be up for selection.
ASTON VILLA TEAM NEWS :
Aston Villa only have slight doubts over hamstring strains to Gabriel Agbonlahor and Eric Lichaj.
available on BBC radio, it can supposedly be heard
in these countries on these stations ...
2 (2) Aston Villa 0 (0)
Monday 21st November 2011 Kick off 20:00
White Hart Lane
Herd (foul) 44
Petrov (foul) 85
|Crowd : 35,818||Weather : - Mild, but misty|
|Referee : Mark Halsey (Bolton)||Assistant Referees : - (-)|
|Fourth Official : -||-|
|Aston Villa kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Aston Villa :||kit|
11 vand er Vaart (18 Defoe 69)
|Manager : Harry Redknapp||Manager : Alex McLeish|
|Sponsor : Aurasma||Shirt sponsor : Genting Casinos|
|Kit Supplier : Puma||Kit Supplier : Nike|
For much of the game, Spurs were content to keep possession and with 59% at the end of the match, they had the majority of the ball and the efforts on goal, as the 2-0 win was as easy a victory as you might see in the Premier League, in which Spurs now sit in third place.
Villa came with ex-Tottenham players in the side and with manager McLeish seeking retribution for the 1-2 defeat that took his Birmingham City side into the Championship on the last day of last season. All this seemed to have no dynamic effect on the Villa team, as they failed to get going, with a defensive set up that failed to stretch their former keeper Brad Friedel into making a meaningful stop.
Spurs strolled through the game, with the pace of Walker and Lennon on the right exposing Warnock and Bale taking on both Cuellar and Hutton, who was playing in an advanced position to push the Welshman back, but the tactic failed embarrassingly. Five shot sin a match is poor ... even for an away side, but their reluctance to push men forward over the halfway line when they were 0-2 behind with 20 minutes left, with a concentration on getting as many men back into their defensive third is a little beyond my comprehension.
Spurs on the other hand went forward from the off. Emmanuel Adebayor should have given Tottenham the lea din the tenth minute when Assou-Ekotto spread the play from left to right and Lennon beat Warnock with ease to cross into the six yard box, where our loan striker managed to put the header wide, with a poor connection on the ball. To his defence, the ball did come over Collins' head, but he should have been prepared for it. When the ball fell into Younes Kaboul's path following one of our many corners, the French defender shot and saw his effort deflected just wide for a corner, with Given going the wrong way. When the ball was swung in by van der Vaart, it was half cleared to Bale just outside the D and his shot went harmlessly into the ground, but Adebayor was alive to the possibilities and threw himself into the air to over-head kick the ball past Given and a defender on the line from inside the six yard box to give Tottenham a 14th minute lead.
Villa's response was to force a corner, but when nothing came from it, there was little surprise and their only shot on goal in the opening stages had come from Darren Bent, who skied a shot into the top tier of the Paxton Road end. Meanwhile, Spurs were attacking at will and the side-netting was ruffled by a Rafael van der Vaart drive from a short corner, before the Dutchman picked out Adebayor just inside the box, but an acrobatic attempt at a volley saw the Togo forward fail to connect cleanly. Then it was Rafa's turn to be supplied by Adebayor and his attempted chip over Given was also over the bar.
On the half hour, Villa had their best chance, when Scott Parker's slip let Agbonlahor run with the ball and he put Heskey in, but his ball in was neither a shot nor a cross, resulting in the ball going harmlessly off target. In the 39th minute, Luka Modric played a delightful ball over the Villa defence to Gareth Bale to the right of centre of the box. All he had to do was bring the ball down and he only had Given to beat, but he could not quite stretch to reach the pass and the chance slipped away.
Again, within a minute of a good chance, Tottenham scored and this time it was the same Bale-Adebayor combination that was responsible for the goal, although they were helped by a duff piece of defending by James Collins and Shay Given. Bale got away on the left for the nth time and his low ball in to the near post saw Collins go for it, but fail to clear it, skewing the ball behind him and then Given was not able to cling on to the deflection, leaving it a foot out and at the feet of Emmanuel Adebayor. He knocked the ball over the line to make the score 2-0 in the 40th minute, just before Richard Dunne beat him to it.
It was a goal you would have been hard pressed to see Aston Villa coming back from. And so it proved.
Despite a header from Darren Bent a minute into the second half, as Tottenham made their characteristic slow start, it only required Friedel to flop down to his left to grab the ball, as it had little power on it and it was from about 12 yards out, so troubled the American stopper very little. Having missed a couple of chance sin the first half, Adebayor went on to fail to claim a hat-trick, when, in reality, he should have been doubling that total with the opportunities he had. When he was put through in the 52nd minute, he looked suspiciously offside, but was level with the last defender, as he ran on to Luka Modric's cute through pass. He was through, but with Dunne catching him up, he chose to shoot low to Given's left, but put his shot wide of the goal too.
Five minutes later, following a good spell of possession, Kyle Walker strode forward to smack a shot just wide of the Villa goal from 20 yards out, then, six minutes later, Bale made a long run that ended with him prodding the ball to Emmanuel just outside the centre of the box, but he curled a shot past the keeper and just beyond the far post. There was some energetic closing down going on by Spurs, with Parker making a long run to rob Agbonlahor just as it looked like hew as going to shoot from the edge of the box and Adebayor hassled the Villa defenders when in possession until they lost the ball. It shows how willing the players are to work for each other.
With 15 minutes remaining, Spurs kept the ball for a long series of passes, ending with Modric hitting a low cross into the box that Given fumbled and with Adebayor in close attendance, the goalie was required to smother his follow-up shot to keep the ball out. When Spurs attacked down the right later in the game, Petrov put in a nasty two-footed lunging tackle which might have been a red card offence in some referees eyes, but he only got a yellow.
Tottenham finished the game with shots way too high from Parker and Defoe, but they had been winners of the match for a long time before Halsey blew the final whistle to put Villa and their supporters out of their misery. There was only one team playing and it wasn't the team who had to go back up the M1. They might as well not have turned up and for their fans, who shelled out time and money to see that performance, I think they should be given an apology by the manager and the players.
Seeing Tottenham play such comfortable possession football and get results doing it is so pleasing. While Harry Redknapp and his coaching team take lots of credit, the players all look focused on getting something out of this season and it might not be a bad time to do it. As they seem to have bonded as a group, all celebrating the goals and apologising if something goes wrong or a pass is mis-placed. There seems a genuine warmth among the squad.
Third place with a game in hand and four points off second.
West Bromwich Albion and Bolton in the next couple of league games to come.
No predictions ... just happy to see where this takes us !!
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|What you thought|
|Other scores during this week :|
|Manchester City||3||Newcastle United||1||Saturday|
|Stoke City||2||Queens Park Rangers||3||Saturday|
|Swansea City||0||Manchester United||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||2||Bolton Wanderers||1||Saturday|
|Wigan Athletic||3||Blackburn Rovers||3||Saturday|
|9||Queens Park Rangers||12||4||3||5||13||22||15||-9|
|10||West Bromwich Albion||12||4||2||6||11||17||14||-6|
Position after the weekend :
Position before match : 5th
Position after match : 3rd
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