Tottenham’s Capital One Cup success over Aston Villa provided a useful workout for some of the squad players who have had little football this season. They took the opportunity to remind Andre Villas-Boas of what they could bring to his first team.Spurs progressed comfortably to the 4th Round of the Capital One Cup even though AVB’s team showed eight changes from the side selected for last weekend’s Premier League game at Cardiff. They controlled the game throughout and were always the more dangerous going forward with the young Villa goalkeeper making a number of good saves to deny Jermain Defoe and Erik Lamela.
How did the ‘Fringe’ Players Do?
Brad Friedel has all the experience to cope with being second choice goalkeeper. He is ever reliable and disciplined in his preparation so is able to come into the team and produce a composed display without any pressure – he’s seen it all before. He was comfortable in all that he did and produced two good saves, one in each half, to ensure he kept a clean sheet and that Spurs avoided any awkward moments.
Vlad Chiriches made his long awaited debut in central defence, playing beside Jan Vertonghen. He had an erratic first half but was more settled after the interval. In his enthusiasm and desire to impress in the early stages he overhit his passes from defence and rushed into challenges. He is very keen to bring the ball out of defence and made a number of surging runs forward. In the final minutes he moved across to right back and again got forward quickly. He will need a little more discipline in his play before he’s ready to step into the Premier League.
Zeki Fryers was up against one of Villa’s best player, Mark Albrighton who is recovering from a long term foot injury having been out since January. He was dangerous last night and caused problems for many experienced Premier League full backs when playing regularly for Villa. He troubled Fryers last night but the young left back impressed, learned from his early experiences, kept at the task and if beaten to the ball recovered to get in a second tackle and was able to match the winger for pace. He also got forward on the left to link up in Spurs attacks so it was a satisfactory debut for Fryers.
Sandro was everywhere. He roamed around midfield putting in challenges and bursting forward in attack. He wanted to be involved in everything. On one occasion, he burst forward and passed to Jermain Defoe on the edge of the area, continuing on for a return pass. He was not impressed when Defoe decided to shoot – a shot which was easily blocked. Sandro is bursting with desire and eager to play regularly.
Lewis Holtby is all energy. He was involved across the midfield and linked up well once again with Erik Lamela, creating a first half chance for him. He had three ‘assists’ – for both of Defoe’s goals and with the corner from which Paulinho scored Tottenham’s second goal. The chip over the Villa defence to enable Defoe to head the opening goal displayed exquisite skill and vision. It was his all-action persona which brought the fourth goal in added time, winning the ball on the half-way line to set up Defoe one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Erik Lamela was lively particularly in the first half and linked well with Holtby and Harry Kane. He troubled the Villa defence with his running and skill and in a first half break with Holtby will be disappointed not to have opened his goalscoring account. Breaking forward at pace, Lamela gave the ball to Holtby and went on for the return pass where on the edge of the area he shot but the goalkeeper tipped the ball over for a corner.
Harry Kane was given the opportunity to start of the left of midfield and got involved quickly in the game. He was well placed to collect an early pass from Lamela but delayed his shot. After that he worked hard in midfield and was involved in a number of the Spurs attacks with Defoe and Lamela. He also displayed his strength and power on forward runs, looking for an opportunity to shoot.
Jermain Defoe continued his goalscoring record with his third ‘double’ in the three games he has started in Europa League and Cup matches. He came to the game with a positive attitude and was looking to get among the goals. He had a couple of earlier opportunities but was denied by the goalkeeper but when the clear chance came just before half-time, he made no mistake to head Spurs into the lead. His second goal in added time was a striker’s dream, put through against the goalkeeper – he had no problem making it four.
Nacer Chadli returned as a substitute and in his brief appearance he scored his first spurs goal beating the goalkeeper with a powerful shot to the near post. His return to fitness provides another option for the manager.
Tottenham’s progress in the Cup was pleasing and the contribution to Spurs’ squad players will have been satisfying to AVB as he prepares for future games, knowing that he has players who are capable of producing an acceptable performance but also players committed to playing for Spurs.