Spurs-Villa breakdown

This was a solid outing for Spurs, playing away in a tough environment against a very good club, they came away with a point and were unfortunate not to take all three. They showed themselves to be a top 4 caliber club against Villa.

Spurs started out a little disjointed in the first half and Villa put them under pressure. While Villa had corner after corner, one resulting in a scramble of a goal, Spurs had some very good chances as well. Spurs had trouble hanging on to the ball and while Wilson Palacios did his typical yeoman work in the center of the midfield he was very wasteful with the ball. Spurs in general weren’t connecting well with Crouch and Defoe. Villa did a very good job containing Aaron Lennon and Spurs did a poor job getting him the ball. It looked like this was going to end as a very frustrating day until unlikely hero Michael Dawson leveled on an amazing strike. Defensively, the back line was very solid for Spurs and the Dawson – Bassong pairing looked sturdy and youthful. Bringing on Jenas shortly into the second half for Palacios gave Spurs a further stranglehold on the game. Jenas did a better job controlling possession and was more of a threat going forward. That said Villa hunkered down well and demonstrated that they are a tough tough team to break down and demonstrated their quality. Yet at the end of the day Martin O’neil was right to be “happy not to lose.”

As for the strike partnership and the benching of Robbie Keane – it was clear Spurs’ captain was unhappy coming off the bench. And while I am not a huge fan of Keane, he does allow Spurs to play possession football. Against Villa, Peter Crouch was ineffective and became fairly predictable running in from the left toward the far post on crosses. I know Crouch was part of the 9-1 shellacking but I think he is more effective coming on in the 60th minute when Spurs are in need of a goal and in need of changing their approach. Playing small ball on the ground with Defoe and Keane for the first 60 minutes puts the defenses on the back foot. Bringing on Crouch provides a tactical shock – as a back line who for the entire game has faced no aerial threat all of a sudden is confronted with a 6’7 tower in the air. Additionally, when Spurs start with Crouch there remains that tendency to play route one football, particularly when they are under pressure as they were in the first half against Villa. Better to start off the game trying to play footie, and then abort to route one if it is just not clicking. In other words play like Arsenal and keep your ability to be Bolton in your back pocket.

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