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Spurs v Aston Villa, 01.01.23

PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 1ST JANUARY, 2023
(2PM)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0) ASTON VILLA 2(0)

Scorers:-
Buendia, 50
Douglas Luiz, 73

Attendance:- 61,651

Referee:- John Brooks
Assistants:- Constantine Hatzidakis, Neil Davies
Fourth official:- Anthony Taylor
VAR:- Jarred Gillett
Assistant VAR:- Steven Meredith

Teams:-
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Romero, Lenglet, Davies; Doherty (sub Emerson Royal, 80), Bissouma (sub Sarr,80), Hojbjerg (sub Skipp,88), Perisic (sub Spence,88); Gil (sub Sessegnon, 63), Kane, Son

Subs not used:- Forster; Sanchez, Dier, Tanganga.

Booked:- Romero (foul on Watkins), Lenglet (foul on Bailey), Davies (foul on Young), Bissouma (foul on Kamara)

Aston Villa (4-4-2):- Olsen; Young, Konsa (sub Ings, 82), Mings, Digne; McGinn (Capt.) (sub Coutinho, 78), Kamara, Douglas Luiz (sub Bednarek, 82), Buendia (sub Chambers, 82); Bailey (sub Cash, 66), Watkins
(Armband to Young)

Subs not used:-Martinez; Augustinsson; Sanson; Archer

Booked:- Mings (foul on Kane), Konsa (time wasting), Chambers (foul on Son)

Spurs on the wane

Spurs v Aston Villa, 01.01.23

Spurs have lost their fourth place, perhaps never to be regained this season. This team is on the wane again. Spurs fans can sing to the moon - today they vented their frustration upon Daniel Levy- but it is not the Chairman’s fault that three of our star players (Richarlison, Bentancur and now Kulusevski) are injured. It is also not his fault that the £38 million spent on Yves Bissouma is currently not looking like money well spent. It also not Mr. Levy’s fault that Son Heung-min’s form is fading. Son’s three Premier League goals were scored in one game. His other two goals came in one other game in the Champions League. It is not the Chairman’s fault that this team conceded the first goal for the seventh consecutive game. Most of those issues are probably not the manager’s fault either, but a man of Antonio Conte’s calibre should surely be able to get a more positive tune out of whichever eleven players he chooses to represent our beloved Tottenham Hotspur.

Dejan Kulusevski was filmed following the returning Cristin Romero into the stadium but mysteriously did not appear in either the starting line-up or on the bench. One report suggested he had suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury. Bryan Gil was his replacement, making his first Premier League start, but for all his ball-playing skill, and twists and turns, Gil does not have the physicality for Premier league football. Dier and Sanchez joined Tanganga on the bench. Conte’s chosen back three was Romero, Lenglet and Davies, all of whom were booked in the first half, putting them on tenterhooks for the rest of the game.

Villa, now managed by former Arsenal man Unai Emery, had a game plan. They often had six players across the back line and didn’t test Lloris in the first half but looked sharper than us in attack and made us pay in the second half. It is also not Daniel Levy’s fault that World Cup finalist and former World Cup winner Hugo Lloris spilled a long shot to allow Buendia to give the visitors an early second half lead. The other World Cup Final goalkeeper – Emiliano Martinez – remained on the Villa bench. Spurs failed to test his replacement Robin Olsen to any great degree.

The game was preceded by homage to our own Maurice Norman and of course the magnificent Pele, who passed away recently. At half-time our own Norman Giller and Spurs legend Cliff Jones (soon to be 88) were interviewed regarding Norman, whose last game was my very first as an attendee in 1965.

Villa kicked off and played towards the South Stand. After two minutes, Douglas Luiz, who not so long ago had been linked with Arsenal, stole a ball near the touchline came inside and won a free kick which Spurs cleared. 2022 was the fortieth anniversary of Villa’s European Cup victory and the away fans chanted “Champions of Europe, you’ll never sing that”, not for the last time. Let’s face it, they are probably right.

Referee John Brooks was in charge of Spurs for only the second time, and this was his first Premier League game in the middle for Spurs. In my view he was “on our case” with decisions going Villa’s way, and with those three first half bookings for our defenders. Son raced forward and was cynically sandwiched, but no card was forthcoming for a Villa man. Nothing came of the free kick. Clement Lenglet found Perisic in an advanced position with a good long ball, but the referee spotted a foul by Perisic who was probably (again) our best player going forward.

Watkins received a ball from the left and came inside before hitting a shot just wide of Hugo’s right post. Doherty had a chance at the other end, forcing his way into the villa area before his shot was deflected out for a Spurs corner on the right. Son’s corner-kicking was often not up to scratch today either. Son lost the ball in midfield subsequently, but the defence recovered that situation. Kane was getting few touches at this stage of the game.

Spurs’ best chance of the first half, and indeed the whole game, came after 39 minutes when Perisic was first to a Lenglet ball into the area, crossing for Kane to head goalward, only to see 37-year-old Ashley Young clear off the line with Olsen having been drawn towards Perisic. A corner resulted, but nothing came of that. Villa fans booed Kane as he challenged for a ball towards the right of their area, but that was water off a duck’s back. Another nice move ended with a short ball by Son for Kane, but Olsen reached the ball first. Young handled a Son cross, but Olsen comfortably held Son’s free kick. In added time a shot by Buendia thankfully passed wide. There had been little first half excitement.

Norman Giller   Cliff Jones

Norman Giller and Spurs legend Cliff Jones

Spurs kicked off the second half but within five minutes, just as I was tweeting “How are we going to win this?”, Lloris spilled Douglas Luiz’s 35-yard shot. Watkins collected and teed up Buendia for an easy finish.

Perisic had a good chance taking a Bissouma pass and cutting in from the left flank, before hitting his shot over the target. Bissouma soon got a fifth Premier League booking for a foul on Kamara and will surely be forced to sit out our game at Palace on Wednesday. Douglas Luiz’s free kick was deflected out of play for a corner. Spurs broke forward with Son and Kane in tandem, but Villa frustrated us again.

Conte’s first substitution was Sessegnon for Gil with Perisic playing ahead of Sessegnon. Watkins had a chance after Bissouma overran a ball in midfield, but between them Doherty and Lenglet cleared. Villa were now trying to slow the game down (it had never been that fast) and Konda was booked for taking an age over a free kick.

A decent one-touch flowing move by Spurs ended with Son’s pass to Kane, whose left foot effort was wide. The game was then pit beyond us when Douglas Luiz latched onto McGinn’s pass and scored with a low, sharp shot inside the box. I applauded the goal, as it was good play that I would have liked to have seen from my players.

Lloris saved another shot by Douglas Luiz who remained on the floor while Spurs tried to counter – unsuccessfully. More substitutions followed with Sarr replacing Bissouma and Emerson taking over from Doherty. I didn’t notice any benefit, and Djed Spence’s rare entrance was too late in the game to make any difference despite seven added minutes. To be honest, Villa still looked the more likely team to score.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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