Will Villa be Anything More Than Target Practice for Spurs? The Signs Don’t Look Good

Aston Villa v Tottenham Preview 2016

On the back of a 4-0 defeat away at Man City, a match against Spurs, who have performed better than City this season, looks pretty ominous – even if we are at home.

This match follows the news of some positive backroom staff appointments, timed no doubt to counter the findings of a poor annual financial report, which has offered a welcome distraction from on-field matters, but thanks to recent Villa performances this already looks like a “dead rubber” match.

Tottenham, led by February’s manager of the month Pochettino, will be eyeing a big response following their disappointing showing in the Europa League. Villa Park is always so welcoming to teams in need of a lift…

spurs have lost none of their last eight visits to villa park in all competitions

Garde on Spurs

“Tottenham is a strong team – and a club that has improved a lot over the last 10 years. I look at the table over the past 10 years and it’s been a very good run for them.

“It’s going to be difficult for us. And I think it will be difficult for them, of course, to win the title because the race will be very tough.

“They have very good players. They are playing Europa League which is very demanding. For them that could be something very difficult to cope with.

“I watched them against Dortmund. They played against a very strong team. Dortmund is a big team, they are used to this type of game.

“It was tough for Tottenham but I am not going to rely on this result. This is two different competitions. I know the possibility for them to win the title after a long, long time will give them a lot of motivation for the game.”

and on relegation rivals

“I prefer to concentrate and focus on my own team.

“I don’t want to speculate on possible results for my rivals or to comment on what they are doing.

“It’s much more efficient to control what I can control which is my players and team.”

Pochettino on Villa / squad rotation

“I think we need to show respect to Aston Villa. I think we are wrong if we don’t show respect to Aston Villa.

“And in the same way, I explained last week, the players are not machines, I think we’ve come through a very busy period and we play a lot with different circumstances.

“There’s no regret about nothing. It’s only that we need to know that the level, to compete in the Champions League in the future, you need to improve.”

Memory Match

02 Nov 2014 Villa 1 Spurs 2 

A bad day at the office for Villa, who had Benteke sent off and conceded a 90th minute Harry Kane goal.

Villa – Last five matches at home: W 2, D 1, L 2

Spurs – Last five matches away: W 3, D 1, L 1  

Villa have failed to win any of the last five encounters at Villa Park.

One to Watch

Harry Kane – The England striker has scored 16 goals in his last 20 Premier League appearances. Depressingly, that’s two more than our team has scored (14) in the last 20 Premier League games…

Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet

Not since Ciaran Clark’s deflected shot flew in past Friedel in 2012 have we got any points from Spurs at Villa Park.

That was when McLeish was overseeing Villa’s annual relegation battle, but unlike now, avoiding relegation was a realistic possibility back then.

It seems a shame to speak of Villa’s campaign in such a defeatist manner but if we are to have an Leicester-esque revival, we’re leaving it a bit late.

The London side have enjoyed their trips to Villa Park in recent years and in all competitions, they have lost none of their last eight visits – winning six.

While form has perhaps tailed off a little for Tottenham, they’re still an intimidating prospect for Villa’s players – they’ve lost just once during their last 13 league away games.

Spurs defence has seen them concede just 12 goals in their last 14 away matches so Villa’s toothless attack shouldn’t give them too much of a problem.
After 29 games, Villa have just 16 points which is the third lowest at this stage in a Premier League season. Spurs on the other hand are enjoying their best ever points tally at this stage – they’re on 55! Sigh.

“I think we are wrong if we don’t show respect to Aston Villa” – Pochettino

What We Pray the Football Gods Will Provide

Football is wacky enough to provide a shock as big as Villa staying up, but let’s be honest, the signs aren’t there.

It seems difficult to envision Sunday’s match as the start of a Villa resurgence, unless Brian Little has pulled strings and quietly brought in eleven new players.

When you think of teams who have fought the drop in the past, the lack of fight from Villa is quite alarming, particularly considering there are some players who may be considering life after Villa.

If the gossip columns are to be believed, some of our players are targets for other clubs (Veretout to Bournemouth or AC Milan, anyone?) so let’s put a positive slant on this and hope the players put in a shift that gets them noticed – if they’re not up for our promotion battle next season.

Tottenham have won a league-high 18 points from losing positions this season, so if we do find ourselves in the rare situation of leading in a match, we’ll have to replicate the first half of last weekend’s game in terms of parking the bus.

Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag

Tottenham’s defensive record is impressive, but it’s worth noting that in their last 14 away games, they’ve kept just three clean sheets.

Spurs attractive style does leave them open at the back at times, and coming in from two demoralising defeats (to West Ham and Dortmund) there’s a chance they could be a little nervous.

The notion of a team being intimidated by Villa Park might sound amusing to some, but Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld has warned of how difficult the game could be.

None of this will mean a thing however if Garde sets up his team defensively. The backs against the wall approach against City last weekend worked to a degree, and we even had a couple of decent chances before the floodgates opened, but we’re in no position to sit back and let Tottenham knock the ball around.

It’s a Premier League team against another Premier League team, so a win is not impossible. Besides, Leicester were in a similar situation at this point last season (admittedly with three more points) and ended up finishing 14th. OK… I’ll get my coat.


Follow Lewis on Twitter – @rymondfootball

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