With a real chance to claim a stranglehold on Europa League, Tottenham Hotspur showed their colors as Spurs limped to a 1-2 loss to Aston Villa. After scoring the first goal and maintaining the majority of possession it was again mistakes and a lack of quality that led to more dropped points from a winning position and may have finally cost Tottenham Europe.
A first half to forget for Tottenham
Things started well for the Lilywhites as Tottenham jumped out and tried to get on the front foot early. Some decent pressure led to a Villa mistake in their own half and a rare opportunity for Steven Bergwijn.
Starting on the right wing with Gareth Bale unable physically to start after playing over an hour on Sunday, Steven Bergwijn made the most of his chances. The Dutchman managed to pounce on the errant touch, shrug off two challenges and blast the ball into the upper 90 past Emiliano Martinez for an early 1-0 Tottenham lead.
From that point forward, however, things only went downhill for Tottenham as they failed to capitalize on having the bulk of possession and were exposed through mistakes in the back.
Sergio Reguilón had a tough day
Left-back Sergio Reguilón certainly will not remember this game fondly. First, came a poor clearance that ended up slamming past Hugo Lloris and into the net for an own goal. While everyone makes mistakes you can see the current mentality of this team as Reguilón fell to the ground.
Eric Dier did try to pick Reguilón up and encourage him no one else really seemed to have much to say. Such is the state of Tottenham right now where more people seem to want out than in.
Unfortunately for Reguilón his bad day was not yet over as he had one more major mistake in him. It was Reguilón who gave the ball away deep in his own end for Villa’s second goal. Really, Dier, Reguilón, or Harry Winks all could have cleared the ball but choose to try and play possession out of the back against the press.
A tough pass from Winks put Reguilón under pressure and his pass back to Winks never got there and suddenly it is 1-2 and Tottenham has again blown the lead from a winning position. After having over 60% of possession, Spurs had managed only 2 shots in the entire half, 2, compared to 10 for Aston Villa.
Second half quality not enough for Tottenham
In the second half of the match, it was not a case for Spurs were not going for it as the game was wonderfully wide-open for all 45+ minutes. However, Tottenham again demonstrated a real lack of quality in their passing, particularly in the final third, which left them unable to create many clear-cut chances.
Tottenham did take more shots than the paltry 2 in the first half, with eight, but that was again still 2 fewer shots than Villa. Despite again having more than 60% of possession in the second half, Spurs failed to translate that into anything resembling a real attack.
So poor was the Lilywhite’s passing that Hugo Lloris was the only starter to complete 90% of their attempts. As we have seen all season, all it takes is a little pressure to throw Spurs off their game and take them out of their rhythm.
Steven Bergwijn did end up with a good look at goal – once – in the second half but his effort was saved by a scrambling Martinez. And as it turned out Tottenham would not again have a shot on target after Bergwijn was taken off the field for Gareth Bale.
Bale did little in his cameo but at least the fans got to see him live right?
Ultimately, as has been the case all season Tottenham lacked a real plan and was simply not good enough against a team lower in the table, which they should have brushed aside. Such is the story of the 2020-21 season, just one disappointment after another.