Tottenham return to Villa Park for their Premier League game against Aston Villa, less than a month after a four goal win in the Capital One Cup. Tottenham will be looking to repeat that earlier success but know they will be facing a much stronger side with Villa hoping Christian Benteke is fit to play following injury.
Tottennham have scored four goals without reply on both of their last two matches at Villa Park.
On Boxing Day, Tottenham enjoyed a comfortable evening against a young Villa team who were struggling badly, having conceded 8 goals at Chelsea the previous weekend. Spurs came out on top with four second half goals including a hat-trick from Gareth Bale and a goal from Jermain Defoe who had opened the scoring.
Last Visit to Villa Park
At the end of last month both clubs sent out weakened teams for the Capital One Cup game but Spurs progressed to the next round with Defoe scoring twice and Paulinho and Nacer Chadli getting the others. It was Lewis Holtby who orchestrated the victory, creating three of the four goals that evening. Tottenham’s most embarrassing moment came early in the second half when the Villa striker got away from Jan Vertonghen and as he chased back the defender fell and caught hold of Nicklas Helenius’ shorts pulling them down round his knees as he put his shot over the bar.
Spurs will want to make a swift recovery from the defeat against West Ham in their last game prior to the international matches. That defeat saw them drop from 3rd to 6th position in the Premier League, three points off the top. With yesterday’s results they have slipped another place and so close is everything in the league this season that a defeat to Villa would take the Midlands club move ahead of Spurs on goal difference.
Spurs’ League Record at Villa Park (inc. PL)
P 70 W 21 D 20 L 29 For 94 Ag 104
Premier League Record at Villa
P 21 W 4 D 8 L 9 For 21 Ag 26
Villa rely heavily on goalkeeper, Brad Guzan and will be hoping that Beneteke is ready to start having recovered from his injury more quickly than expected. Their team is a mix of experienced players with younger players being introduced. In their last home match, Villa surprised Manchester City with two late goals to claim the three points in a 3 – 2 win. That was their first home win in the league having lost to Liverpool and Newcastle. They earned a point in a scoreless draw at Hull before the international break. Villa started the season with a surprise away win over Arsenal, Beneteke scoring twice. He is the Villa leading goalscorer with 5 goals so far this season. Andreas Weimann is second with 2 goals.
The Spurs team will still be missing Danny Rose and Aaron Lennon who have not recovered from injury. They have returned to training but are not ready to play. Neither is Etienne Capoue but Younes Kaboul is thought to be available although I would have thought unlikely to play as he is still prone to minor injuries which prevent him from completing a game. Changes to the starting team will be limited but I would expect Roberto Soldado to reclaim his place in the team and if there was to be a change in midfield, Sandro may come in to consideration.
Andre Villas-Boas will be expecting a positive response from his players after the disappointing performance and result against West Ham. All eyes will be on Andros Townsend to see if he can produce the form for Spurs that he showed in the two England games over the past ten days. This is a critical match for Tottenham to get their season back on track – there can be no slip up or excuses this afternoon.