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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Aston Villa, 27.08.1997

"It was Twenty Years ago today!"
article published 24th August, 2017, but first written in 1997 by the late Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Aston Villa

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           5   1   2   2    5 - 6   5
Away           5   0   2   3    2 - 5   2
Total (Prem)  10   1   4   5    7 -11   7
Football Lge
Home (Div 1)  47  25   6  16   99 -77  62
Away (Div 1)  47  17  11  19   72 -75  48
Total (Div 1) 94  42  17  35   171-152 110
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)   2   1   1   0    4 -3    3
Away (Div 2)   2   0   1   1    1 -3    1
Total (Div 2)  4   1   2   1    5 -6    4
Total (Prem)  10   1   4   5    7 -11   7
Total (Div 1) 94  42  17  35   171-152 110
Total (Div 2)  4   1   2   1    5 -6    4
Grand Total  108  44  23  41   183-169 121

Having beaten Derby County, it is imperative that we build on that result and beat Aston Villa. In recent years, Villa have been a bit of a bogey team. But last season, we beat Villa 1-0 at Tottenham thanks to an Allan Nielsen goal and drew 1-1 at Villa as a result of Ramon Vega heading an early second half goal.

For many years, Aston Villa were the sleeping giants of Midlands football. They were rarely challengers for the championship but were rarely in trouble at the wrong end of the table until the mid 1960s. They then crashed to the Third Division before slowly clawing their way back to the top division. When Spurs beat Villa 2-0 at Wembley in the final of the 1971 Football League Cup, they were in the old Third Division.

Aston Villa had a brilliant spell at the start of the 1980s. Ron Saunders, the manager with the granite faced expression, brought together such diverse players like Jimmy Rimmer, Dennis Mortimer, Peter Withe, Gary Shaw and Tony Morley to win the Championship in 1980-81. There can be few teams who can claim to have lost at Highbury yet able to celebrate winning the League as soon as the final whistle echoed.

The following season, Villa won the European Cup, surviving the shock departure of Saunders in mid-season. His replacement was his former assistant, Tony Barton, who was completely unknown outside the Villa camp. Early in the Final, Rimmer had to go off as he had been injured and was replaced by Nigel Spink, then a very young reserve team player. Spink brilliantly took his chance so well that it was Rimmer who had to move on to find first team football elsewhere after he regained full fitness.

Since then, Villa have tried to find another team that can emulate the cavalier approach of the teams that Saunders and Barton built. Brian Little, a former player, has spent heavily in trying to put a team that can make a serious assault on the championship.

Villa now have two problem strikers, who are basically will o' the wisps who will not bend to the needs of the team. One is Savo Milosevic, the other is Stan Collymore.

Stan Collymore is the biggest enigma to grace the Premiership for years. He has wandered around the clubs looking for success but has yet to find it. The trouble with having Collymore in the team is that he is not a team player. Liverpool tried hard to mould him into their plans but in the end became thoroughly exasperated with Collymore, who gave the distinct impression that advice given to him flowed in one ear and out of the other.

Milosevic, on the other hand, tries very hard. He is very clumsy and ungainly with a very poor first touch. But he works hard and does not allow his head to go down. However, the suspicion remains that he is clearly not Premiership material.

Whoever plays up front on Wednesday will probably pair off with Dwight Yorke. Yorke has been very consistent but has yet to find the ideal partner. I suspect that, ideally, he would like a rejuvenated Peter Withe. Withe was a very unselfish striker, unlike Collymore or Milosevic. Collymore, when he receives the ball, just heads off for the penalty area, oblivious of better placed players. Milosevic thrashes about and often loses the ball. One could not blame Yorke for feeling frustrated at times.

It is fairly safe to observe that Bosnich will receive a very warm welcome for all the wrong reasons on Wednesday night. No one who saw the corresponding match last season will forget the awful sight of Bosnich performing the Hitler salute, which deeply offended the many Jewish patrons at Tottenham. That incident plus memories of the foul that Bosnich committed on Klinsmann have not been forgotten.

It will be interesting to see who Spurs field as their team. If Campbell and Vega are fit, I would expect to see them reinstated in place of Scales and Calderwood. They are demonstrably the better pairing. I would also prefer to see Dominguez playing instead of Ginola. Not for a long time have I seen a midfield player trying to make things happen.

I suspect that Wednesday's match will be a cat and mouse game and that we will have to be patient. If that is the case, Tottenham fans will have to conceal their frustration when things are not going right and keep behind the team, no matter how great the temptation to groan aloud and barrack an individual player for a mistake may be. I take the view there will only be one goal in it on Wednesday night and that it will be a very late goal. I would not be surprised if we have to wait until injury time at the end of the match for the goal that separates the two clubs. Who will nick it depends on how positive Tottenham play. I hope they can impose themselves on a Villa team, clearly drained of confidence following three successive defeats.

Cheers, Brian

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