Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tottenham 2 Villa 0

Two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor gave Spurs the three points they required to move into third position in the Premier League.  However, winning by two goals doesn't tell the full story of Tottenham's dominance throughout the ninety minutes and Villa will be relieved to have got off so lightly.

Adebayor Double Takes Spurs to Third
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Aston Villa 0
Scorer: Adebayor (2)
Team: Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Modric (Sandro), Bale; Van der Vaart (Defoe), Adebayor  Subs (unused): Cudicini, Gallas, Bassong, Pienaar, Dos Santos.

Emmanuel Adebayor
Harry Redknapp, Ledley King and Rafael Van der Vaart were all fit so the manager returned to duty and sent out an unchanged team against Aston Villa.  Alex McLeish had selected a team designed to restrict Spurs with Alan Hutton on the right side of midfield and Carlos  Cuellar who had come into the team in place of the more attacking Charles N'Zogbia, at right back.  Hutton and Cuellar were looking to double up against Gareth Bale in an attempt to reduce his involvement in the game.  It failed as Bale was the creator of both goals in the first half and could have scored himself.  In reporting on a league game Villa played against the Spurs 'Double' winning side in early 1961, the reporter stated that Villa had decided on strength and endeavour in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Tottenham.  Last night Villa had definitely settled on a plan to use their height and strength to unsettle Spurs but again it proved unsuccessful and for most of the first half the players looked to each other in search of an answer against Tottenham's flowing, attacking play.  Meanwhile, the manager and coaches spent the half attempting to get messages to the players from the sidelines.

The first cheer of the evening was of an ironic nature as Darren Bent sent his shot from an early Villa attacking foray, high into the stand at the Paxton Road end.  Spurs then took control and it was two goals from Emmanuel Adebayor which settled the match.  While Adebayor scored twice, it could easily have been six.  His first came after fourteen minutes but he could have already had two by then, having failed to reach a Van der Vaart pass and then missing a header from an Aaron Lennon cross.  His goal came from a corner awarded when a Younes Kaboul shot was deflected wide.  The corner was partially cleared to Bale who sent the ball back in and Adebayor scored with an overhead kick. 

Tottenham continued to look dangerous with both Bale and Van der Vaart unable to take opportunities which presented themselves.  Villa offered little going forward with Kaboul immense in central defence and King his usual dependable self.  The second goal came with five minutes of the half remaining.  Bale put in a dangerous cross which deceived James Collins and Shay Given, bouncing between them, leaving Adebayor a simple tap-in from a few inches.

Tottenham in recent games have outplayed their opponents in the first half but then struggled to maintain the momentum in the second period.  Would the same thing happen again after Alex McLeish's inspirational team talk?  Villa started a little more positively in the early stages and this time Bent manged to put a header on target but Brad Friedel, playing against his former club, made a comfortable text book save, diving to his left and catching the ball in both hands. 

Then Tottenham re-asserted themselves and took control but failed to score the third goal which might have led to an avalanche, so much were Spurs superior.  Emmanuel Adebayor showed a great work rate throughout the game and continued to have opportunities to complete his hat-trick but contrived to miss when put through on goal by Modric, saw a shot saved by Given, put another just wide and had a goal disallowed as Lennon had been offside before delivering the cross.  He even thought he was going to have a penalty to take.  Bale was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and as the referee sorted it out Adebayor picked up the ball ready to take a penalty, only to discover the decision had been to award a free-kick on the edge of the box.  He tried to get the decision overturned but to no avail.  Others had shots on goal as Spurs poured forward meeting little opposition from a Villa side concentrating on damage limitation - Kyle Walker's shot was just wide, Parker's followed the same path past the post, Defoe on as a substitute had a shot blocked - seventeen shots in total.

This was an outstanding team performance by Spurs - every player contributing to the success.  The only concern was that Tottenham didn't score the goals their play deserved and that one slip could have let an undeserving Villa back into the game and produced another backs to the walls finish which wouldn't have done Harry Redknapp's heart any good.  However, Villa couldn't even achieve that.

Tottenham are now on twenty five points from eleven matches and have risen to third above Newcastle United on goal difference and three points ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal with a game in hand over all their rivals.  West Bromwich Albion await on Saturday afternoon with a three o'clock kick-off at The Hawthorns, an unusual occurrence for Tottenham this season.  West Brom have proved difficult opponents in recent times but hopefully Spurs can put that right this season.  A win would increase their points advantage over the corresponding fixtures last season as the match in early September, 2010 finished in a draw.

Spurs are playing as a team and producing some of the best football seen by supporters in their lifetime.  Teams know that they have to stop Bale and Van der Vaart who have been both creator and scorer in recent weeks but last night Adebayor came up with the goals and Defoe has also managed to find the net on his limited opportunities from the bench which is all to Spurs advantage and creates an extra problem for opponents.  This is the club's best start to a season since season 1966 - 67 and long may it continue.


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