Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur: Match review
Tottenham marched straight back into the top four after last weekend’s frustrating draw with a convincing win over struggling Aston Villa. The visitors’ complete domination in the first half was met with stubborn resistance from Villa, whose quest to venture forward in the second half was harshly punished with a goal from Jermain Defoe and a hat-trick from Gareth Bale. Villa have now conceded 12 in two games, and have much to think about before their upcoming game against Wigan. A loss could see Paul Lambert’s side sink deep into the relegation battle, and being one of the few clubs to have never been relegated from the top tier of English football, Aston Villa fans might not take too kindly to that.
After confident statements about marking Benteke out of the game, it was a return to the heart of defence for the Belgian defender, with the return of Naughton at left back. Having been frustrated by Stoke at White Hart Lane over the weekend, and seeing Everton and West Brom record victories in their Boxing Day fixtures, Tottenham desperately needed a win to keep pace in the race for European football next season. They couldn’t have asked for a better opponent for the evening either, as Aston Villa came into this game on the back of an absolute thrashing at the hands of Chelsea, which had been set off by Torres as early as in the 3rd minute.
It was a bright start from the visitors as well with much of the game being played in Villa’s defensive third, and Brad Guzan had to dive at full-stretch to deny Gareth Bale a goal with an excellent curled shot in the 10th minute. In fact, Villa seemed so intent on sitting deep and inviting the attack, that Tottenham had 5 corners within the opening 15 minutes, although all of them were seen out by Ciaran Clark and co. Tottenham continued to press and Guzan was called into action just past the twenty-minute mark, as a corner found its way to Gallas, whose header drew a good save from the young ‘keeper. Defoe was through on goal, albeit in a wide position the very next minute, and Villa had Guzan to thank yet again, for coming out and meeting the striker, denying him a clean shot at the goal.
The possession continued to be dominated by Tottenham, who seemed intent on working Guzan once every ten minutes, as a strong header from Adebayor post the 30-minute mark was straight at Guzan, who caught it in two attempts. Adebayor nearly broke the deadlock a few minutes later when Bale found him in the middle of the box, but saw his attempt deflect away from target off Baker. Continuing the described pattern, Bale drew another decent save from Brad Guzan on the stroke of 40 minutes, while the home crowd began to grow restless as the ball rarely made it past the halfway line for Villa. After last weekend’s result though, it was quite understandable why Paul Lambert’s men were happy to just go in at half-time with the game being scoreless.
Marc Albrighton was introduced in place of Westwood at the start of the second half, and provided great impetus as Villa played the first five minutes of the second half in Tottenham’s defensive third. Villa’s new-found enthusiasm was welcomed by the fans, and Hugo Lloris had to make his first real save of the game from Benteke, although a goal wouldn’t have counted, as Ireland found the Belgian forward in an offside position. This focus on attack left Villa slightly more exposed at the back though, and that was sufficient for Defoe to finish through Guzan’s legs, having been found with a clever pass by Naughton: a goal for the diminutive forward on his 400th league appearance, and a 1 – 0 lead for the visitors in the 57th minute. Another attack from Aston Villa saw them punished on the counter attack, as Gareth Bale showed great composure to round Guzan and score Tottenham’s second. Benteke uncharacteristically played a sloppy pass around the box which let Tottenham regain possession, allowing Bale to get past Clark with blistering pace and grab himself a goal in the 61st minute.
Poor marking was to blame for Tottenham’s third, as Bale was left unchallenged in the Villa box as he received the ball from Lennon, and put it into Guzan’s left hand corner in the 73rd minute. It was too much punishment for quite a few of the Villa fans, who began to leave in drones, and not just to avoid getting caught in traffic. Sigurdsson came on to replace Adebayor in the 80th minute, and would soon be involved in Tottenham’s fourth. A great run from the Icelander was picked up well by Walker, and he slipped the ball back to an unmarked Bale who completed his hat-trick from a similar position to his second. That was how the game finished, and it was heartening to see Defoe grab the match ball for his teammate, handing it over to Bale – a well deserved man of the match.
Result: Aston Villa 0 – 4 (Jermain Defoe 57′, Gareth Bale 61′, 73′, 84′) Tottenham Hotspur