Spurs stole this game, against possibly one of the weakest teams in the division, but at least we took home the points. It’s hard to know how to feel when your team play so poorly but rally in the last five minutes to record an improbable come-back.
On the one hand there’s the disappointment and frustration at the performance, on the other hand it was an exhilarating finish that summed up why – despite all the ups and downs – we still support Tottenham.
The fact it was Harry Kane, youth product, local kid and all round nice guy, coming on to score the last minute winner, only added to the drama.
Before this game Villa hadn’t scored in over 9 hours of football, notching up five losses in the process. They had the lowest shots tally in the league. Surely even Spurs couldn’t mess this one up?
To be fair there was one ingredient that Paul Lambert’s side have been missing for most of the season so far – Christian Benteke. The big striker was the focal point for much of this match. Early on he looked like winning it for Villa, in the end he played a big part in losing it for them.
Pochettino had to shake things up after the toothless performance against Newcastle. Fans were clamouring for the introduction of Harry Kane after his excellent form in the cups. The manager instead went with Soldado, replacing Lamela to go with two up front.
Giving the young Argentine a rest made some sense – he has been disappointing in recent league games. Putting in an extra striker was presumably an attempt to remedy our problems scoring goals.
Early on Benteke caused the Spurs defenders no end of problems. Tottenham fans looked on enviously as his combination of pace, power and aerial ability showed us just what we have been missing up front all season.
Kaboul was all at sea. He just couldn’t cope either on the ground or in the air. I advocated paying Fazio in this game to try to nullify Benteke’s physicality but the pace of the Villa striker and those supporting him were as much of a threat. How we could have done with Musacchio!
Benteke went close from a header, then hit the post with a rasping drive.
Villa’s first goal in 547 minutes came 16 minutes into the match. Rose was weak in the tackle out wide, Vertonghen gave N’Zogbia room to cross. Weimann and Benteke had lost their markers, the Austrian firing the ball into the goal.
The chances were coming thick and fast at both ends, more because of a lack of organisation in defence than any real quality going forward – the big Villa striker apart. Soldado missed a header from close range, although to be fair to him it came at him very quickly. Then he played Adebayor in, one on one with the keeper, with another clever through ball. The Spurs man’s shot lacked conviction.
Ettiene Capoue has done well this season but here he had a particularly bad game. Even his normally incredibly reliable passes were going astray. I would have been tempted to bring on Stambouli to try to add some dynamism. Mason was good again, full of energy, everything Capoue wasn’t.
As the game wore on Spurs became increasingly frustrated and ineffectual as Villa sat back and hit us on the counter attack with the pace of Agbonlahor and N’Zogbia.
At first Pochettino resisted the crowd’s calls for Kane but, in the 57th minute, he could resist no longer. The young striker’s arrival immediately added some urgency as he had a shot and a header saved within minutes of coming on. Whatever his talents, Kane definitely seems to have the right attitude. He’s always positive, always trying to get a shot off, and it’s this that distinguishes him from our other forward options.
Then came Benteke’s moment of madness. It was a soft red card but it was a definite hand to the face and he had to go.
Still Spurs huffed and puffed until the final twist. Dreadful defending at a corner left Chadli free to volley home from six yards. I am always a bit dubious of the Belgian’s contribution but he certainly pops up with some useful goals. He’s now our top goalscorer in the league with five.
The equaliser set the scene for Kane’s defining moment. There was a degree of luck in the deflection but it was no more than the Spurs striker deserved. Maybe less so some of his team-mates.
Were you happy or unhappy after the match? Can Spurs build on this win? Let me know in the comments below.