Well that was a lot easier than expected, or I expected anyway. The Villa side still bears hallmarks of Martin O’Neill even if he and most of his players are long gone. Tough centre backs all over the pitch, tigerish midfielders and a big lad in the middle. Tonight though these tactics looked outdated as an inspired Spurs let the away team off lightly by inflicting only a two goal defeat. Adebayor got both goals but could (should) have had five. He took his most difficult chance and his easiest, a shot hooked over his shoulder from ten yards and a tap in from one respectively, but missed a couple of one on ones and at nil-nil a free header.
Gareth Bale was in sparkling form and got the assists for both goals. He started wide but played more centrally as the game wore on thus thwarting McLeish’s plan of stopping the Welshman by playing two defenders down the right. Modric, Walker, Van der Vaart and particularly Lennon all joined in the fun going forward. Assou-Ekotto, Sideshow Benny, was also in fine form and would’ve caused a collective orgasm if he’d lifted the ball over Given near the end rather than try, and fail, to square for a waiting colleague.
Two up at half time the second half slump that we’ve become used to never materialised as we gave Villa an old fashioned football lesson. It’s amazing we didn’t notch more goals and perhaps the only thing that could be faulted about the Spurs performance was the apparent desire to walk the ball home rather than just make sure it got there. The crowd was at times in a frenzy of oohs and aahs and were baying for more goals. The professionalism with which the players closed down the game at the end does them credit but also led to moans of frustration that our fun was being restricted to only 80 minutes.
Villa’s tactics were hard to discern, they seemed to be relying on us making errors to get themselves into dangerous positions. They did indeed get a couple of chances, both Heskey and Bent should’ve done better in promising situations but despite them being overrun McLeish did little to change things in the second half. They were pulling everyone back for corners even near the end, apparently keener on keeping the goals down rather than attempting to get back into the game. King and particularly Kaboul were strong and emphatic with great support from Parker in the second half especially when at one point Agbonlahor looked like he might be about squeeze a close range shot away.
Third place then. The side, especially at home is playing with a rare gusto. Energy, skill and running are apparent all over the field. We’re having a lucky run with injuries and making the most of it but with the likes of Gallas, Sandro and Defoe unable to get a start, we seem well placed for the inevitable crocks. West Brom next week and even though we normally have issues up there, given our form against theirs, it’s a good chance to keep this astonishing run going.
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