Despite speaking as a man who thought the result and performance against Liverpool sounded the death knell for our league season, Iâ€™m still looking forward to this weekendâ€™s game with more than a few nerves and a lot of anticipation. Aston Villa come to White Hart Lane for a Saturday evening kick off and the battle of fourth v seventh.Â The strange and welcome truth is that despite the spineless submission at Anfield and the points dropped in the final minutes at St Andrewâ€™s last week weâ€™re still in with a great chance of a top four finish. Man Cityâ€™s big advantage over everyone is that theyâ€™ve got money at a time when no-one else has so for them to let the transfer window go by without strengthening significantly is a boost to all of us. So a good result at the weekend and maybe itâ€™s not a lost cause after all. (This is Spurs, I should know better of course).
Vedran Corluka made his Spurs debut in the home game against Villa last year and was taken to the cleaners by Ashley Young as we lost 2-1. Charlie got his own back at Villa Park where he kept Young in his ample back pocket after replacing Zokora early in the match. This season itâ€™s likely to be Bale who faces the lightning quick winger as heâ€™s swapped to the right to accommodate Stuart Downing on the other side. The Bale v Young battle will do a lot to dictate the pattern of this game as so much of Villaâ€™s attacking play comes through the winger. Baleâ€™s recent renaissance has much to do with his offensive skills and there are still questions over whether heâ€™s got what it takes defensively.Â This game may well provide some of the answers.
Palacios and Modric should return for us in midfield with, at a guess, Jenas and Kranjcar making way.Â Both the former were rested for Wednesday nightâ€™s cup game. Ledley may displace Bassong alongside Dawson and we should hope he does as Villa are bound to provide the sort of physical presence that the Cameroonian sometimes struggles against. Defoe and Crouch will almost certainly continue up front but the make up of the bench will be interesting. Pav may return to start working on his splinters once more but heâ€™ll have different faces to chat to as presumably both Gudjohnsen and Kaboul will be in the squad. The ultimately fruitless chase for a second choice goalkeeper during the window wonâ€™t have escaped the notice of Ben Alnwick. Not exactly a vote of confidence in the lad.
So there are 14 games left and the first is this mouthwatering prospect. Weâ€™ve had much the better of our last two encounters with Villa and if we play at our best we should get a result here that helps make that night at Anfield seem like just an aberration after all.
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