…burnt Villa to the ground.
Another team in claret and blue set up to stifle Spurs, it wasn’t looking good and I was dreading the thought of drawing Burnley in the Cup.
Well AVB shook things up after the last league loss, four changes from the side that lost 3-0 at home for the away trip to Villa. Most made sense and were ones I certainly had called for. First up Chiriches was given his first league outing which meant Vertonghen could shift over to left-back. Finally a left footer on the left, don’t know if it’ll catch on.
Then after a couple of games where it’s been screaming out for Sandro’s return the Beast was back. Teaming up with his countryman in the centre, personally I’d have gone with the old duo that started off last season so well and paired him with Dembele, instead of dropping the Belgian. Holtby was given the nod at number 10 ahead of Eriksen. Maybe a shock to some but a well called for inclusion. And finally Defoe was dumped back where he belongs for Soldado’s return. The manager realising his mistake.
I would have gone further and played Lamela instead of Sigurdsson. But that did leave a pretty strong bench with the Argentinian alongside those dropped mentioned above as well as the returning Lennon, who might be over his injury but is facing the first real fight for his Spurs’ place.
The incumbent on the right wing isn’t going to give up his place easily after the week he’s had. The comparisons with a certain departed Welsh player are coming thick and fast and while Madrid won’t be coming in with a world record fee any time soon there is one similarity. Over the last few seasons when Spurs were struggle on a number of occasions Bale would do something that changed the whole game. Townsend certainly did that.
Another similarity is the attention both players get on the park not just off. As Spurs struggled through that first half of what was a dire game of football, Townsend was variously double and treble teamed. There was his opposing fullback, joined by a midfielder – Delph – and then a striker – Agbonlahor -joining in to clamp down on the winger. Now with three on one there should have been space for others to work, unfortunately no one seemed to want to work.
There just wasn’t the movement from the side in white. And it was telling that in the first half that Chiriches had more touches than any other Spurs’ player – he was also successful with 48 passes which was more than half what Villa were successful with.
There should have been more space from the 10th minute on when Villa’s Westwood went over the ball and was lucky not to have broken Holtby’s leg, which did a bit of bending. It was a straight red card that ridiculously only received a yellow and saw Paul Lambert enter full whinge mode. It was surprising that the little German could carry on.
But carry on he did and again played a full part in the goals. After nothing had really happened, except an excellent save by Lloris from a free kick by the player who should have been sent off – which would normally have resulted in a goal – Townsend came inside yet again but this time curled an excellent cross into the box. It missed everyone a Soldado stretched and couldn’t reach and Holtby ducked, knowing exactly what was happening as the movement both of them dragged the ‘keeper away from where the
As the old cliché goes it was what the gamed needed. ball eventually entered the net as Villa now had to do something not just try and stop Spurs. Lambert probably said his team deserved something from the game, well if you do nowt you deserve nowt. especially at home.
The Villa ‘keeper, Guzan, prevented Townsend doubling the lead just before the break with a fine save.
In the second half with Villa now obliged to do something other than defend Townsend didn’t have all the company that had surrounded him earlier. Which made it prime counter attack territory. When Lambert finally introduced Benteke it opened up things even more. It also created the chances for Villa. Now normally with a free header in the middle of the box someone like Benteke who Spurs tried to sign in the summer would have levelled things up but miraculously he didn’t. twice.
Then things were sown up, surprisingly in a Townsend free move. Punt up the park Holtby then Soldado make sure Spurs get the ball. The Spaniard to the German who then cuts back a beautiful ball to Paulinho whose one touch lay-off into the path of Soldado sees the striker give the ‘keeper the thought he’s going far post when he cuts it back near post and it’s game over, with his first league goal from open play.
Paulinho should have made it more comfortable later but somehow didn’t get anything on Townsend’s whipped ball across the face of goal – second time there was nobody on the end of such a cross. It was a pretty pathetic attempt by a player who should be scoring there. While others did, I didn’t think he had the best of games. Would have brought Dembele on for him instead of the replaced Holtby and while good to see Lennon back, maybe Lamela for Gylfi.
Now what do they say about winning while not playing well? And all the crowing about other teams and writing Spurs off after one bad result, they certainly haven’t hit their straps, players still bedding in and getting use to each other and they lie just three points off the top.
Oh and the flare. Well whoever brings flares to grounds and sets them off deserves the ban from attending matches that is likely coming their way. Though from what I hear it wasn’t the same person that threw it onto the park. That was done to get it out of the stand as it was causing breathing troubles. Hey, don’t know could just be an excuse but they certainly don’t help breathing if going off at your feet.