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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Aston Villa v Spurs, 07.11.98

This preview was written by Brian Judson

Full Record of Spurs -v- Aston Villa

Premier       Pl   W   D   L   For-Ag  Pts
Home           6   2   2   2    8 - 8   8
Away           6   0   2   4    3 - 9   2
Total (Prem)  12   2   4   6   11 -17  10
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)  12   2   4   6   11 -17  10
Total (Div 1) 94  42  17  35   171-152 110
Total (Div 2)  4   1   2   1    5 -6    4
Grand Total  110  45  23  42   187-175 124

If there is a better time to play Aston Villa at Villa Park, this must surely be it. Villa crashed out of the UEFA Cup this week, which may have dented their confidence. The snag is that we have not won at Villa Park since season 1986-87. No one who knows their history will forget the joy of watching Spurs that season nor the horrible feeling we experienced at its end. Suffice to say we won 3-0 up there and a certain Clive Allen scored the first three of a record 49 goals that season.

Since that sunny day in August 1986, we have trekked up there every year, with the single exception of 1987-88, without once returning home with all three points. And yet there was once a time when a trip to Villa Park was considered a banker away win for Tottenham. I think we went a record 16 visits to Villa Park without ever losing up there.

Villa, of course, were founder members of the Football League in September 1888 and did not play Spurs competitively for points until season 1909-10, following our promotion from Division 2. But we had clashed in a Cup tie which had briefly led to the closure of White Hart Lane when there was trouble in 1904.

Most of Villa's honours were achieved before the First World War. They were, with Blackburn Rovers, the last of the original Football League clubs to be relegated for the first time. Until their relegation from the old First Division in 1966-67, Villa had spent only three seasons outside the top tier of football.

It was an incident involving Peter McParland, a Villa left-winger, and Ray Wood, the Manchester United goalkeeper, that led to the question of substitutes for injured players being seriously considered for the first time. There had been other Cup Finals where an injury had occurred but this was the first Final where it is fairly safe to say the result had been affected by injury since Wood had to go off with what later proved to be a depressed cheekbone and Jackie Blanchflower, the Manchester United centre-half, had to go in goal. Even the great Duncan Edwards could not prevail against the Villa forwards after that. But it was to be another six years before substitutes were first used.

Over the years, as the chart above shows, honours have been even overall. Spurs and Villa have generally won more of the home games and quite a lot have been drawn.

I remember one disappointing home game. This was the season after we'd been promoted from the old First Division and it was our first home game of the season. We paraded Ardiles, Villa and a certain John Lacy, all of whom were making their home debuts. They all came out to a ticker tape welcome : I don't recall their being applauded off except by the Villa fans, who had enjoyed seeing Villa win 4-1 away from home! Our only goalscorer was a certain G Hoddle, who scored from the penalty spot.

I have only seen away game at Villa Park. That was two seasons ago when we drew 1-1 up there. We were actually leading for most of the second half thanks to Ramon Vega, who had headed home in the 54th minute. Dwight Yorke snatched the equaliser with nine minutes to go. It was looking a most improbable away win because Villa weren't playing particularly badly at times but they did lack confidence.

It seems likely that the side that drew against Charlton will play at Villa Park. Even if the deal goes through and we sign Taricco, he is unlikely to play as he was injured in his last game for Ipswich. Although Spurs expressed confidence in the deal going through, no confirmation has yet come through.

*IF* Spurs play as they are capable of doing, we *MAY* escape with a low scoring draw. Villa may feel a bit low at the start of the game but we can be sure that John Gregory will soon liven them up if they do. He was at White Hart Lane on Monday night, leaning nonchantly against the wall of the players' tunnel. I think it may be 1-1 but if Iversen is fit and we play two up front, Spurs might pull of a rare shock.

The game is being highlighted on Match of the Day on Saturday night so our European cousins may see the full game from Villa Park.

Cheers, Brian

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