BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 13TH MARCH, 2016
ASTON VILLA 0(0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1)
Kane, 45, 48
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: G Beswick, M Perry
Fourth Official: C Pawson
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1):- Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Lescott (Capt.), Cissokho; Westwood, Gueye; Gil (sub Sinclair, 70), Veretout (sub Green, 62), Ayew; Gestede
Subs not used:- Bunn; Richards, Clark; Bacuna, Lyden
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela (sub Chadli, 90), Eriksen (sub Carroll, 78), Alli (sub Mason, 87); Kane
Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Davies; Son
Spurs win at a canter
It was all so easy really for Spurs at Villa Park with goals by Harry Kane just before and after the break. Mauricio Pochettino paid the greatest respect to Remi Garde and his team by fielding his strongest available line-up, and Spurs really should have won by more with other good chances in the first half.
Spurs eased up after going two up, rather than going for a third goal killer, and Villa had a couple of late chances including a shot by Gestede which hit the bar, but that was all too late.
There really is a stench of death about Villa Park at the moment. The ground was only two thirds full. Their fans couldn’t even muster much of a cheer for their own players when they were announced, and when abused by visiting fans, they joined in with the gallows humour rather than show a bit of fight. There is not a lot of fight about the Villa team in fairness, which doesn’t inspire the fans, although Garde said his team performed better today than of late.
Towards the end of the game some Villa fans in the lower North Stand raised a “Lerner Out” banner, which was actually seized by stewards and removed to loud boos. I thought we lived in a democracy!
There were no bookings in this game, which I think says something about the lack of battling by the home side, and the lack of need for great physicality by Spurs.
It was interesting to note that Villa won the toss, but chose to play towards the Holte End in the first half, perhaps afraid of their own fans for the second period of play.
Spurs kicked off towards the North Stand, and within three minutes had a great chance after Dele Alli intercepted in midfield and quickly fed the ball to Lamela, who pushed it on to Harry Kane who got goal-side of the defence and hit the top of the bar with his shot. A minute later, Lamela picked up a loose ball and gave Eriksen a chance, but his shot was high. Both Alli and Lamela were bright throughout the game, making important interceptions, touches and passes which inspired the attack.
Alli from the right passed inside to Lamela after 7 minutes. Both Erik and Danny Rose had their shots blocked in this move. Alli had a shot from 22 yards saved by Guzan after Lamela had pounced upon the ball in the middle.
Villa at last showed in attack after 11 minutes, when Veretout got to the line and cut back for Gestede, whose shot was blocked. Villa began to make some headway down their left flank through Gueye, Ayew and left back Cissokho. These, like too many names in the Villa squad, are names we’ve never heard of, which is sad for what is a big club with so much glorious history.
Eriksen tried a shot from 25 yards after Kane’s pass. After 23 minutes, number 23 Eriksen fed the ball from the centre to Kane towards the left. Harry pushed the ball out to Rose, and when Danny returned the compliment, Kane’s shot was deflected out for a corner. Both Kane and Eriksen had shots blocked in the ensuing play. Kane got another chance after a slick piece of play by Lamela, and from 25 yards out towards the left Harry’s shot passed wide across the goal.
Alderweireld sent Walker away down the right and his cross was met by Lamela, but saved near the left post. Lamela became provider after another vital touch in the middle. His pass to Dele Alli was forwarded to Walker, whose shot on goal was held by Guzan.
Villa had another shot on goal when Gueye took a free kick on the left and Gestede’s shot was held by Lloris. Spurs went one up as we hit the 45 minute mark. Eriksen managed to get the ball to Dele Alli who was fouled. Everybody, including the referee who allowed the quick free kick, did well here as Alli took the kick and found Harry Kane towards the left side of goal who fired home for a well-deserved lead.
That one goal lead became 2-0 three minutes after the break thanks to a great team goal started in our own half by Kevin Wimmer’s ball to Alli, who then exchanged passes with Lamela, before getting deep down the left side and crossing for Harry Kane to score his second goal with his right foot. Spurs were never going to look back after this, and they seemed to know it too. I would have liked a third goal to truly kill the game, but I suspect the instructions were to play within themselves.
The next clear chance for Spurs came from a Lloris clearance to Danny Rose, who picked out his right back partner with a great pass across the field. Walker’s shot was saved and won a corner.
Villa started to make changes, bringing on 17 year old Andre Green for his first team debut, replacing Veretout. Gil was replaced by Scott Sinclair, once signed by Man City as a great hope for the future, but now struggling for the limelight even at ailing Aston Villa. Gestede had a decent effort on goal firing wide across the goalmouth after Cissokho’s pass from the left.
Erik Lamela had a chance after 74 minutes, but couldn’t get the shot with his left foot, using his right to fire at goal, and having his effort blocked. Eriksen had a shot on goal after Rose’s pass, but Guzan was equal to his attempt. Christian was then replaced by Tom Carroll. Villa’s best chance on goal came after 83 minutes when Ayew got the bye-line and hit a low shot which rebounded off the outside of the post to Gestede, whose shot hit the top of the bar.
Villa had a late corner taken by Green, but which was fired wide by Joleon Lescott. This again might have hit the outside of the post.
The result means that Spurs move to within two points of Leicester, who play Newcastle tomorrow. We are six points ahead of Arsenal (who were knocked out of the FA Cup today by Watford) and seven ahead of Man City. We have a nine point lead, and of course a far better goal difference, over West Ham in fifth place.
I think we’ll need to be on our mettle next week when Bournemouth come to town. Before that we have the second leg of the Europa League tie to come against Borussia Dortmund, but I’ll be upset now if we field a strong side for that game.
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