BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 7th OCTOBER, 2012
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (0) ASTON VILLA 0 (0)
Referee:- Mr. N. Swarbrick
Assistants:- Mr. A. Garratt & Mr. G. Beswick
Fourth Official:- Mr. M. Halsey
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Caulker, Vertonghen; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon (sub Townsend, 86), Dempsey (sub Sigurdsson, 82), Bale; Defoe (sub Adebayor, 68)
Subs not used:- Friedel; Dawson; Huddlestone, Falque
Booked:- Walker (foul on Holman)
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1):- Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar (Capt.), Clark, Bennett; El Ahmadi, Delph (sub N'Zogbia, 66); Albrighton (sub Bent, 66), Holman (sub Bannan, 73), Agbonlahor; Benteke
Subs not used:- Given; Lichaj, Westwood, Weimann
Booked:- Delph (foul on Dembele), Bennett (foul on Lennon), El Ahmadi (foul on Lennon)
"Villans" put away
Spurs ran out comfortable winners in a game where the 2-0 scoreline flattered the visitors, and one of 4 or 5-0 would not have flattered Spurs. A trend has been established where Spurs start games very brightly, and they could have scored two in the first two minutes.
That didn't happen, and Villa did not just sit back, as Hugo Lloris was called into action several times. It would appear that the Brad Friedel era could be over, as he sat the game out on the bench, to bring an end to that marathon run of consecutive Premier League games
(310 at the last count). AVB has clearly illustrated that he has no time for sentiment, by his relegation of Michael Dawson in the pecking order of centre backs. After all, Lloris is the future, and Friedel would have struggled to reach another landmark, such as 350 consecutive games.
Gallas returned and Steven Caulker is becoming a fixture in the team, where he performs solidly at the back, and for whom he plays a strong part at set pieces in the opposition area. He got on the score-sheet for the first time for the Spurs first team to at last break the deadlock after 58 minutes. That was a fortuitous goal, as Defoe's effort was deflected off the back of Caulker, but the lead was clearly deserved in a second half dominated by a Spurs team, who upped the tempo nicely.
Jan Vertongen performed well again at left back, and is particularly adept in his combinations with Gareth Bale. This ability, along with his strong defensive skills will give Benoit Assou-Ekotto a challenge, when he returns to fitness.
In front of the defence, both Sandro and Dembele gave an excellent performance. Both win most of their challenges. Both carry the ball well round and through the toughest of challenges, and both offer plenty of creativity to assist the attack. I also thought that Clint Dempsey had his best game of us to date, playing in the middle of the three supporting Jermain Defoe.
In the opening seconds, Defoe ran with the ball on a right to left diagonal, passing it to Bale, who was to the left of the area. Bale hit a low, powerful shot just wide of Guzan's left post. Within a minute, Spurs had another chance after a mis-placed Dembele pass still found it's way to Dempsey. Bale and Vertonghen combined on the left; crossed for Defoe, who fired over.
After a foul on Bale on the left, Gareth took the free kick which passed ahead of everybody's feet. Soon after this, Villa fans taunted Bale, who they felt had dived under the advancing Guzan, who had to come outside his area to prevent a Bale effort. A throw-in was awarded toVilla, but Spurs gained possession, and actually had a shot on goal, stopped by the busy Villa keeper.
After some good approach football by Dempsey and Vertonghen, the goalkeeper was out again to snatch the ball from the feet of Bale.
Villa had their first meaningful effort after 20minutes, when Belgian striker Christian Benteke worried Lloris with a shot that he cleared with both fists.
Delph got the first booking of the day for bringing down Dembele as he broke free in the middle. Sandro made a good win of the ball in the middle and arrowed his pass to Lennon, who gave it to Defoe. Jermain worked the room for his left footed shot, which was pulled wide.
If there is a weakness in the Spurs defence, I have to say it is Kyle Walker, who I felt was beaten too often, and who was a little weak in some of his challenges. On one such occasion, Agbonlahor got the better of Kyle, but Lloris was out to the Villa man's feet.
Spurs had lost some of their earlier impetus, and Villa challenged strongly, matching the Spurs formation. Having said that, there were many passing errors by Villa, who should have been punished more severely by the home side. Spurs last significant first half offering came after Sandro's pass to Dembele, who crossed from the right to the near post, where Defoe's effort was held by Guzan.
Villa had an early cross from the left, beating Walker again, but Lloris saved from Benteke. Spurs responded with a strong attack, which ended in a driven shot by Vertonghen from the left channel, which passed wide across the goal.
Lloris showed a little frailty when he saved a Villa header, but then made a poor throw to the wing, from where the ball was returned and Benteke headed wide, with the goal at his mercy.
After that, it was pretty much one-way traffic, with not enough goals in our favour. There was great play by Sandro to win the ball, retain and sprint clear until he released Defoe, whose right foot shot passed just wide of Guzan's right post.
Villa were struggling to hold both Sandro and Dembele at bay, and the other defensive midfielder El Ahmadi saw yellow. After this, Villa conceded a relatively cheap corner, taken by Bale. Caulker rose but missed he header.Behind him, Defoe snatched his chance and fired for goal. Caulker knew little about his deflection that gave Spurs the lead, but it was warranted.
Dempsey fed the ball to Lennon down the right. The winger found Defoe, also on the right, and the shot went well over. After another Lennon cross, Sandro put the ball to Bale, whose well-driven shot was well saved by Guzan.
Paul Lambert made a double substitution, with Darren Bent replacing Albrighton, and N'Zogbia replacing Delph. The intention was clear.Villa would be going all-out to equalise. That plan soon came to nought though, as Spurs increased their lead almost immediately.
The second goal followed a sequence of play where both Sandro and Dembele had been to the fore, winning hard balls, and making forward progress. It was Dempsey from the middle who directed a ball to Lennon, who took on responsibility, and scored with a great right foot shot across the keeper, hitting the net at the far post
Defoe was replaced by Adebayor, making his first appearance for four weeks. Adebayor was enthusiastic, and was even seen assisting the Spurs defence on he edge of the area. He looked fit and sharp to me, but spent more time on the right flank than in the middle, I'd say.
Villa made their final substitution, with Bannan replacing Holman.
Adebayor and Walker conspired on the right before Walker crossed the ball, and Dempsey somehow headed wide of the far post, with Guzan beaten. Mis-fortune struck Villa, who lost their left back Bennett, challenging Bale, when he ran the ball out of play, colliding with the hoardings. Bennett had to be stretchered off, and it looked as though blood had been drawn. Substitute Bannan filled in at left back, but Villa were now very much on the back foot.
With Bale now working on the right, he passed inside to Adebayor, who lifted a shot over the defence, and nearly over Guzan, who saved on the line, with his arms stretched high.
Bale fired just outside the post after another Walker cross. Dempsey received great applause, when he was replaced by Sigurdsson, who looked sharp as well, playing some good football at close quarters.
Sigurdsson had some nice inter-play with Adebayor, working his way into a shooting position, but the ball was snatched off Gylfi's feet.
Lennon also received great applause when he was replaced by Townsend.
Dembele passed to Bale, now on the left, and his shot was saved by Guzan, but still passed the keeper, rebounding off the back post.
Spurs closed the game out with some good possession play, bringing out the "Oles" from the crowd. The move ended in a wide shot by Dembele.
This was Spurs' fourth successive league win, and they just failed to climb into the top four on goal difference. The win was not as convincing as it should have been, but the crowd went home happy. We have to wait two weeks now for the next game, which should be a cracker at home to league leaders Chelsea.
As for Villa, they remain at the wrong end of the table. Paul Lambert left the relative comfort of Norwich to take on the Villa challenge. I think it will keep him fully occupied.
P.S - Villa fans are still observing their extension of goodwill towards their number 19, Stillyan Petrov after 19 minutes of the game.
To their credit, many Spurs fans joined in the applause. Petrov is battling his diagnosis of acute leukemia.
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