Tottenham visit Villa Park to play Aston Villa on Boxing Day, needing three points to keep up their challenge for fourth place in the Premier League. The two points dropped against Stoke City on Saturday at White Hart Lane were a disappointment but not half as bad as Villa must feel following their 8 – 0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
I don’t know which was worse as the Villa match approached – their recovery in form in early December or hearing of their capitulation against Chelsea. In mid-November Villa were beaten 5 – 0 at Manchester City but then went on a run of six games undefeated. They drew at home to Arsenal (0 – 0) and then defeated Reading 1 – 0 at Villa Park. A 1 – 1 draw at QPR was followed with another scoreless home draw with Stoke. They then recorded two outstanding away results defeating, Spurs’ Cup conquerors, Norwich City 4 – 1 in the Capital One Cup and winning 3 – 1 at Anfield. My thought when I realised Villa’s upturn in form with Spurs’ trip to Villa Park looming was, ‘Typical, Villa’s form improves just in time for the Spurs game’.
For the thrashing at Stamford Bridge to come on the back of these great results was amazing. Chelsea played well but Villa’s young team gave them all the time and space they needed and had it not been for the display of goalkeeper, Brad Guzan, the score would have reached double figures. Villa are now in 16th position with the worst goal difference in the Premier League, only three points above the relegation zone. That result brought a shudder as I thought,’Spurs are bound to contrive to drop points as Villa will be determined to make amends’.
Villa at White Hart Lane
Spurs defeated Villa 2 – 0 at the beginning of October with Hugo Lloris making his Tottenham Premier League debut, bringing an end to Brad Friedel’s long run of consecutive League appearances. It was Spurs’ fourth successive League win and the game was decided by two second half goals from Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon. Spurs were sluggish and with greater accuracy in front of goal Villa could have made Spurs suffer before their eventual breakthrough. Caulker knew nothing about his first Spurs’ goal as a shot by Jermain Defoe which was going wide deflected off him and into the net. Lennon scored the second just as Villa introduced Darren Bent in an attempt to strengthen their strike force.
Last season at Villa Park
Last May, in the penultimate match of the season, Villa were battling relegation while Spurs needed a win to maintain control of their own destiny with regards Champions League qualification. Villa took the lead before half-time with a long range shot which deflected off William Gallas and looped over Friedel. Danny Rose was sent off early in the second half but as Harry Redknapp pondered introducing Jermain Defoe, Spurs won a penalty which Emmanuel Adebayor scored. Aware of other results, Redknapp played on without Defoe accepting the draw rather than chase the win. Taking only one point meant Spurs had to rely on other results going in their favour but as we all know now, they didn’t and Spurs had to settle for the Europa League.
The lack of ambition from the manager in that game, displeased many Tottenham supporters and probably played a part in his eventual dismissal during the summer.
Spurs at Villa Park on Boxing Day
Two previopus trips to Villa Park on Boxing Day have brought mixed fortunes for Totenham.
December, 2010: PL Won 2 – 0 Van der vaart (2)
A goal in each half by Rafael Van der Vaart ensured Spurs’ fans enjoyed their Boxing Day journey home. Van der Vaart brought his total of goals against Villa to four having scored both goals in the 2 – 1 win at White Hart Lane the previous October. Villa pulled one goal back through Agbonlahor with eight minutes remaining but the result was never in doubt even though Spurs played with ten men for over an hour after Jermain Defoe had been harshly sent off in the 26th minute, three minutes after Van der Vaart had opened the scoring.
December, 1997: PL Lost 1 – 4 Calderwood
This was Christian Gross’ fifth match in charge at Tottenham and the prospects were not looking good. The previous weekend they had defeated Barnsley 3 – 0 at White Hart Lane but they had already suffered heavy defeats at home to Chelsea and away at Coventry City, conceding ten goals in those two games. Spurs slumped to a 4 – 1 defeat after Villa held a single goal interval lead. While Colin Calderwood equalised Mark Draper’s first goal they had no response in the final thirty minutes as Draper added a second and Stan Collymore scored two more in the final ten minutes for a comfortable win.
Tottenham’ Record at Villa Park (inc.PL)
P 70 W 20 D 20 L 30 For 92 Ag 107
Away Premier League Record against Villa
P 20 W 3 D 8 L 9 For 17 Ag 26
Last season’s Christmas fixture took Spurs to Carrow Road where they defeated Norwich City 2 – 0. Gareth Bale scored twice against the team managed by Paul Lambert. Spurs again face Lambert who has the task of trying to lift the Villa team’s morale after such a heavy defeat at Chelsea. Lambert did mastermind a successful season for Norwich last season including an impressive win at White Hart Lane at Easter. This is a game ideally suited for Bale and Aaron Lennon to run at and put pressure on what at the start will be a very nervous home defence. Spurs need to make a quick, positive start and take advantage of any Villa uncertainty. This is a game for Spurs to show a willingness to take the initiative and force home their advantage. Any result other than a Spurs’ win will be very disappointing, even with Villa determined to make amends for Sunday’s defeat.