SUNDAY 3RD OCTOBER, 2021
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) ASTON VILLA 1(0)
Targett (o.g.), 71
Referee:- Chris Kavanagh
Assistants: Dan Cook, Dan Robathan
Fourth official:- Graham Scott
VAR:- Michael Oliver
Assistant VAR:- Sian Massey-Ellis.
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Emerson Royal, Romero, Dier, Reguilon; Skipp, Hojbjerg; Lucas Moura (sub Gil, 89), Ndombele (sub Lo Celso, 76), Son; Kane
Subs not used:- Gollini; Doherty, Sanchez, Rodon; Winks, Dele; Scarlett
Booked:- Skipp (foul on Ings), Romero (foul)
Aston Villa (3-5-2):- Martinez; Konsa, Hause (sub Traore, 80), Mings; Cash, McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey (sub Buendia, 69), Targett; Ings (sub Archer, 89), Watkins
Subs not used:- Steer; Young; Philogene-Bidace, Nakamba, El Ghazi
Booked:- Ramsey (foul on Kane)
Spurs bracing again!
Clearly a number of regular attendees at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium chose not to attend this game, following a run of dismal form. Those absentees missed a bracing performance by Spurs, who returned to winning league form, and for the first time this season scored two goals in a league game! The win was, of course, welcome, but Villa played a full part in a good game. Spurs had good performances all round and their solid defensive effort was required to keep the visitors at bay on all but one occasion. “Sonny” was excellent and assisted for the first goal, whilst also having a big hand in our second winning goal. The win put Spurs back in the top half, and above West Ham and Arsenal again. That feels good!
Nuno gave Cristian Romero a second league start, and he fitted in like a glove, with in my view a quite masterful performance. Emerson Royal was also prominent up and down the right flank with determined and effective play. Harry Kane is still looking for his first league goal of the season. I proposed the idea of Tanguy Ndombele playing in the middle of the front three behind Kane, and whilst he showed occasional skilful touches, I felt he was not as industrious as his team-mates and I would have replaced him with Lo Celso a lot earlier than Nuno’s 76th minute substitution.
The game was preceded by applause for England World Cup star Roger Hunt who passed away last week at the age of 83. Hunt was a pal of our own Jimmy Greaves, who featured on the cover of a special commemorative programme.
Spurs kicked off and played towards the North Stand. However, Villa had the early attacking play and possession. Their regularly used strategy included right wing-back Matty Cash’s long throw-in, allowed a towel as well in the second half after a rain shower. “Sonny” offered some relief with good play down the left wing, winning a Spurs throw. After 9 minutes he was hobbling after a strong challenge by McGinn. “Sonny” and Lucas Moura attacked in tandem from just inside the Villa half but Lucas’s final pass failed.
There were midfield battles to be seen with Hojbjerg and Skipp fully immersed on our side of the equation. Good play by Lucas on the right sent Emerson away but his cross was blocked. Ndombele showed good skill after 16 minutes, sending a sharp pass to Hojbjerg, who fed the ball to Son towards the left. Villa defended the cross. Lucas found Son with a good pass to the left. Son came inside but his shot was cleared and Lucas’s follow-up cross was fodder for the keeper.
Another good piece of play by Ndombele found Son who passed inside but Kane hit a poor shot over the target from 25 yards. Kane tried an audacious 40-yarder after another Ndombele pass, but Martinez recovered to catch this effort. “Sonny” received a pass from the right and tried a left foot shot from just outside the box, but this passed just wide.
It was no surprise when Spurs took the lead in the 27th minute. Son and Hojbjerg moved forward from halfway with pace, power and intent, exchanging passes before “Sonny”’s final pass gave Hojbjerg the chance to shoot from 20 yards, which he did to score his third Spurs Premier League goal and his first such goal this season. Hojbjerg raced towards the West Stand to celebrate with gusto!
20-year-old Villa midfielder Jacob Ramsey was booked for a foul on Kane, following a speedy attack started via Reguilon and Son. Kane took the free kick, but Martinez held the shot from distance. Oliver Skipp was unlucky I felt to be booked for what I felt was an honest tackle on Danny Ings near the touchline. Skipp already has 4 yellow cards in Premier League games, so it won’t be long before he has to miss a game. Ollie was booked 7 times last season in championship games for Norwich.
Spurs defended a free kick and a corner well. There was more concerted defence required from another Villa corner before the break with several players involved before McGinn’s shot worried Lloris, but was wide. Villa were guilty on a number of occasions throughout the game of errant and over-hit passes.
There was more Villa pressure early in the second half with Skipp making a good clearance and Romero confidently and competently blocking a cross by Targett. Lucas had a 30-yarder blocked at the other end. Son sent Ndombele away with a lovely ball down the left flank, but Tanguy just slightly over-hit the ball at a vital moment. “Sonny” had a chance himself after a cross by Emerson, but the shot passed over the target. Emerson went down under a challenge by Targett but referee Kavanagh’s advantage did not work out for Spurs. Son had another chance after firstly trying to tee up Reguilon before getting the ball back. This shot was also off target. Spurs had plenty of momentum at this stage. Son had yet another chance after a low powerful cross by Kane from the right, but this too failed.
Cash had a shot from 30 yards which passed wide. Until now Hugo hadn’t really had a save to make, but Martinez had to save a shot by Son at his right-hand post after Dier had sent “Sonny” forward with a good long ball. Kane had a snatch shot saved after the corner with Lucas flicking on Son’s cross.
Spurs were however being called upon to defend, which they did competently, until after a foul by Romero, the referee allowed “play-on” and Spurs were caught on the hop when Targett crossed hard and low and Watkins scored at the near post. Romero was booked for his infringement.
Villa fans started crowing again, having fallen silent for much of the preceding second half play, and they were silenced again within four minutes as Spurs regained the lead. The goal came from another lightning attack down the left where “Reggie” fed Son, who crossed low across the area. It looked as if Lucas had converted the cross, but it was a Targett own goal under Lucas’s pressure.
Lloris did have a save to make, and it was a good one as he dived to his left to save a shot by Danny Ings, who put his head in his hands in disappointment. Targett had again been Villa’s provider. Harry Kane hit a shot wide at the other end after an attack where he combined with Son and Lo Celso. Lo Celso was involved in another combination with Son and Emerson. After Emerson’s pass inside Lo Celso curled a shot just wide of the far post. Lo Celso had yet another opportunity after Son, then Kane provided the ball towards the left of goal. Villa cleared this shot. Kane was almost one-on-one against Martinez as he collected a long ball forward, but Martinez won the day.
Villa had one more chance as they attacked after an errant header by Skipp. Substitute Bertrand Traore got to the bye-line on Villa’s right and crossed but Romero cleared the danger, after Lloris had initially blocked a ball at his near post. There were five minutes of added time which Spurs managed impeccably winning at least three short corners, a free kick and a throw-in or two. I don’t think the ball got out of the Villa half in this period.
Spurs go into the International break in a far better frame of mind, and will surely travel to Newcastle with confidence on October 17th.
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