Tottenham Hotspur dropped another three points at home this afternoon against Aston Villa in the Premier League as they continue to struggle with injuries.
Let’s take a look at five things we learned from the match:
Sometimes you just need luck –
In the midst of an injury and suspension crisis, Ange Postecoglou named somewhat of a strange Tottenham line-up today with no central defenders and no defensive midfielders. But it worked! For the first 30 minutes, Spurs were all over Aston Villa and arguably should have been a couple of goals to the good.
The midfield trio of Bentancur, Lo Celso and Kulusevski was creating all kinds of problems in attack, until the former was sliced down by Matty Cash. Postecoglou came up with a game plan that worked, but all that momentum seemed to vanish when Hojbjerg came on, who has a very different skill set. When it rains, it often pours on the injury front.
One in, one out for Man City?
Talking of Rodrigo Bentancur, if the Uruguayan is out for the Man City clash with yet another injury, it could be a case of a midfield revolving door for Spurs. Yves Bissouma will be back from suspension and could take Bentancur’s place in the pivot role, lining up alongside Lo Celso and Kulusevski (unless Pape Matar Sarr makes a quick recovery). How will that attacking midfield cope with Pep Guardiola’s side though?
Man of the Match
For me, Giovani Lo Celso was Man of the Match, and I would be saying the same even if he hadn’t scored the opener. The Argentine came in for some of his first football of the season and absolutely ran the show for much of the game. Almost every Spurs attack that unlocked a stubborn Aston Villa defence involved a nice pass or fancy piece of footwork from the Argentine. I hope he gets the credit he deserves for that all-round performance, despite the defeat. Must start next weekend.
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The centre-back problem
Postecoglou has tried Eric Dier and Ben Davies. He has tried Ben Davies and Emerson Royal. He only really has Alfie Dorrington to choose from beyond those three and I doubt he will choose Man City away to throw the youngster in. Against the pace and physicality of Erling Haaland, the sad thing is that there just isn’t a correct answer. I suspect he will stick with Emerson and Davies and just hope to beat Man City at their own game at the other end of the pitch.
Positives to take
Yes, it is another defeat. Yes, that is three losses in a row. Yes, Man City away is next. But I think it would be a mistake to look at any single part of Tottenham’s season this year in isolation and without context. Spurs were missing six players who started in their last win, but still created an abundance of chances against a fellow top-five team.
There are no excuses for losing or for not putting those chances away, but if this is the kind of football Postecoglou can get from a depleted squad of players who don’t all necessarily fit his system, then it is another positive step in the right direction. There are better days and better results ahead.