THE EMIRATES FA CUP THIRD ROUND
SUNDAY 8th JANUARY, 2017
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) ASTON VILLA 0(0)
Attendance:- 31, 182
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- D. Eaton & A. Nunn
Fourth official:- G. Scott
Spurs (3-4-2-1):- Vorm; Carter-Vickers, Alderweireld (sub Nkoudou, 70), Wimmer; Trippier, Winks, Dier (Capt,), Davies; Sissoko (sub Onomah, 84), Son; Janssen (sub Alli, 60)
Subs not used:- Pau Lopez; Walker-Peters, Vertonghen; Wanyama
Aston Villa (4-1-4-1):- Johnstone; Hutton, Chester (Capt.), Baker, Amavi; Jedinak (sub Davis, 77); Adomah (sub Green, 77), Tshibola, Grealish, Bacuna; Agbonlahor (sub McCormack, 77)
Subs not used:- Gollini; Elphick; Westwood, Cissokho
Villa vanquished - eventually.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino certainly took the opportunity to "manage the minutes" of his squad against Championship side Aston Villa, making 9 changes from the starting line-up against Chelsea in mid-week in this Third Round FA Cup tie. The trouble was that until he started using his substitutes, starting with Dele Alli for the ineffective Janssen after an hour, neither side had hardly had a shot on goal in what must have been poor fare for the BBC viewing public.
I could be wrong, but the fact that a massive ironic cheer was given in the first minute of the second half when Janssen had what was possibly the first shot on target by either side said everything about the first half in which many of the Spurs side under-performed and when there had been little to excite the crowd.
Pochettino played three at the back with Cameron Carter-Vickers (playing his first game since the EFL defeat at Anfield in October) beside Toby Alderweirld and Kevin Wimmer. In front of them were Trippier, Winks, Eric Dier (Captain for the day) and Ben Davies. Sissoko and Son played nominally behind Janssen, but both would switch sides occasionally.
Villa manager Steve Bruce had his men well-drilled, and they kept Spurs at bay with skipper James Chester to the fore. Bruce was short of goal-scoring power and one-time fast man Gabriel Agbonlahor was Villa's front man. Villa's top scorer Jonathan Kodjia has gone off to the African Nations Cup, and they've sold their second highest scorer to Middlesbrough. (Gestede)
Former Spur Alan Hutton was the Villa right back.
Having been moved from the Paxton Stand because of redevelopment of the stadium means that I sit near the away fans, and today it was even less pleasant than usual, as they were given a few more rows of seats and were that much closer to me than usual. They were determined to enjoy their day, and one song (to the tune of Kumbaya) had a dig at "Empty seats my Lord", which is a bit rich from a set of fans whose ground hasn't been filled for years. This particular song ended with a mention of the name "Atkinson", which I assume was more a tribute to the recently deceased Dalian Atkinson, rather than "Big Ron".
Spurs seemed to adopt the policy of trying to bore the opposition to death with their passing game, and it was a while before any football of note emerged. There was a promising move after 11 minutes with a ball down the line to Ben Davies. He passed inside towards Son and Janssen, who fought for the ball, but failed against the Villa defence.
Generally, Son was not strong enough when on the ball, and sadly, Janssen was not skilful enough when on the ball, thus failing to take advantage of his opportunity to state his case for inclusion in the first team.
Harry Kane was one of those players completely absent today, and Spurs tweeted later that he had been busy becoming a father for the very first time!
Agbonlahor has had his fitness problems in recent times, but after 14 minutes, he did manage to get goal-side of Toby Alderweireld albeit on the right of the area. Spurs cleared the resulting cross.
Janssen and the industrious Harry Winks moved the ball forward after 17 minutes, and Janssen was given the chance to at least shoot, but showed too much of the ball to the Villa defence, who cleared.
Mid-way through the half, the ball fell in favour of Moussa Sissoko, and he ran forward down the right channel, offering Son a chance, but Son could not get a shot in.
The first save by either goalkeeper was actually made by Michel Vorm after Grealish passed to Bacuna on his left whose shot was comfortable for the Spurs keeper. Trippier won, and took a corner from the right, and Alderweireld got a glancing headed touch to the ball, but Villa cleared from outside the far post.
Janssen and Sissoko combined and got the ball to Ben Davies, but his cross passed beyond the danger zone. Trippier hit a good ball to Janssen from the other side, but again nothing came from Janssen's efforts. Just before half time Son had a one-two with Janssen, and the attempt on goal nearly resulted in an own goal, but ended in a corner.
That early second half chance for Janssen followed his combination with Trippier, and a final pass by Son. Janssen's left foot shot did require goalkeeper Johnstone (on loan from Manchester United) to make a save at his left post.
Harry Winks,who once again hardly put a foot wrong and is a man of the match candidate, pushed the ball out to Trippier. His cross gave Son a chance, but his effort was cleared. Another good move started with Winks breaking out of his own half before he exchanged passes with Son and had his shot cleared. Trippier took the corner from the right and Janssen met it well before the near post, heading it wide.
That was Janssen's last involvement as he was replaced by Dele Alli on the hour. Once Dele came on, the Spurs attack seemed to be more inspired and certainly became more effective. Son had a great effort from the right side of the box, which Johnstone was forced to push over.
Villa had their best chances on goal after 65 minutes, following a free kick taken out on the left. Both Chester and Agbonlahor had attempts from close range well defended by Spurs. That was the closest Villa came to scoring.
Spurs still give me kittens sometimes with their insistence on short goal-kicks but after one such move, Spurs did advance into opposition territory thanks to good work by Sissoko and Son. The move ended with a Davies cross passing through the Villa area.
Dele Alli passed from the left side in to Winks, who hit a right foot shot which required a save from the Villa keeper diving to his left.
Toby Alderweireld was replaced by Georges-Kevin Nkoudou and Spurs reverted to a standard 4-2-3-1 with Trippier and Davies falling back. Dier remained in one of the defensive midfield positions.
Nkoudou had an almost immediate effect with a cross from the left which was met by Ben Davies in an unusual central position, who headed the ball across the keeper's left hand into the net for his first Spurs goal. The Villa fans were finally muted, and the Spurs fans took over.
Steve Bruce made a triple substitution, but Spurs were now playing with a flourish. Sissoko received the ball towards the left of the area, and hit a good shot which required a decent save. In the 80th minute, Spurs secured the tie with an excellent second goal. Trippier fed the ball to Sissoko on the right, and he passed inside to Son who hit a great right footed shot across the keeper into the net on the keeper's right.
It was game over now, and after all Villa had rarely threatened. Nkoudou (who I thought might have got a start today) showed great skill down the left when turning and advancing with Davies and Son involved before Nkoudou hit a threatening cross.
Villa had a couple of late free kicks. Grealish hit one well over the target. The second attempt was blocked by the Spurs wall.
In added time substitute Josh Onomah gave Son one final chance, but his shot was saved.
Steve Bruce's Villa can concentrate on trying to get back into the Premier League (they are mid-table at present), whilst Spurs await Monday night's fourth round draw.
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