Looking Forward


Aston Villa  (Away)

Premier League

Saturday 17th September 2005

Facing Villa on the back of a 0-4 whacking at West Ham is perhaps not the best time to go to Villa Park.  The match against the Irons saw the Villans perform very poorly, with goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen guilty for the third goal and the defence going AWOL for the other three.   Unable to pick runner sup from deep and slip, sliding all over the place, the Villa back four looked very porous.

While it looks like Sorensen will be replaced by Stuart Taylor in goal and the ex-Gooner will be looking to make an impact to keep the Dane out in the long term, as that is what he moved to Villa for.  Defender Martin Laursen is out after having had knee surgery and midfielder Peter Whittingham has been loaned out to Derby County, having been superceded in the pecking order by Irishman Steve Davis.

Among the defenders available is Liam Ridgewell, an England Under-21 international, who is a real liability at the back.  Harewood shrugged him off the ball so easily, that Rasiak might fancy his luck against the centre back.  I think O'Deary might have noticed his weakness though and will put in Wilfred Bouma, his new signing from PSV Eindhoven, in his place.  He will probably link up with Olaf Mellberg in the middle of the defence, with Jlloyd Samuel and ex-Newcastle defender Aaron Hughes outside them.  The mobility of Defoe will be required to get around the leaden footed back men and while we will miss Fredi Kanoute's ability which unlocked the Villa defence at home near the end of the season, there should be enough power from our midfield to feed in from behind him.

With Jenas, Carrick and Davids providing a three man engine room, it will leave Lennon to raid up the right or if Tainio plays, he can be freed to get forward a bit more too.  Gavin McCann has been around a long time, with a featuring role in the Villa midfield now and he has some good passing ability, but his legs are not what they used to be.  Steve Davis has made good progress since his inception in the side, while Gareth Barry and Lee Hendrie are both still young, although they have been at Villa for years.  Neither has quite stepped up to the plate as the Villa Park fans thought they might, but can be deadly from long range and set-pieces.  The introduction of James Milner from Newcastle has added some verve, but he might turn into another player who fails to realise his potential.  Another, forgotten man, is Eric Djemba-Djemba, who signed from Manchester United and has played only a bit part in the team's games up until now.  Patrik Berger is also on board and might make an entry from the subs bench, although again, his ability to do a whole match is now limited.

The forward line of Angel, Phillips and Baros should be producing goals galore for Aston Villa.  However, up until the arrival of Baros, the others two had not impressed together, so the former Liverpool and Czech striker has pace and the knowledge of where the goal is, so Ledley and Ant will need to be on their toes to keep him at bay.  Phillips will feed off any knockdowns and Angel will try to turn n the box to make a shooting opportunity.  

Last season, it was a Solano scissors kick that undone us ... the season before it was an Angel header.  We must make sure that those chances do not present themselves.  In addition, we need to make sure that the midfield and wide players are providing the passes to Defoe and Rasiak to make the most of them.  I think that the Spurs midfield will take the possession of the middle of the pitch and will make things happen, but with Villa fired up by an O'Deary rollocking, it could be yet another disappointment in our many visits to the Midlands club.  It might end up with another draw for Spurs ...

PREDICTION : -   Aston Villa  1   Tottenham Hotspur  1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


ASTON VILLA :  Mark Delaney (knee); Martin Laursen (knee); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Noe Pamarot (knee); Wayne Routledge (broken foot); Mido (suspended); Michael Dawson (hamstring); 


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Aston Villa   1    Tottenham Hotspur   1      (Half-time score : 1-0)
Premier League Venue :   
Saturday 17th September 2005 Kick Off :  17.35 p.m.
Crowd :   33,686 Referee :   Steve Bennett (Orpington)
Weather :   Dry, chilly
Teams : - 
Aston Villa


Bouma (Samuel )



Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :


Gardner (Naybet 27)

Reid (Keane 67)


Unused subs: 

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
Aston Villa Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  
Aston Villa

Milner 5

Tottenham Hotspur

Keane 78

Cards : -  
Aston Villa

Baros (dissent) 43


Tottenham Hotspur

King (foul) 27
Naybet (foul) 76


Match Report : -  
A tactical change by Martin Jol salvaged a point from this match, just when it looked like Villa's early strike might be enough to take all three points.  The entrance of Robbie Keane into a 4-3-3 formation did the trick for Spurs, who had started with a traditional 4-4-2 set-up and it was a move that paid off for our Head Coach.

It had all started so badly for Tottenham.  Jermaine Jenas lost possession in midfield and Villa broke away through Baros, who laid the ball into the path of James Milner, who struck a powerful 25-yard drove past Robinson into the bottom corner of the net.  It was a bad start that could have gone a lot worse, as Robbo proved his vital he will be to the side's success with saves that kept Tottenham in the game.  ENO denied Berger who got onto Milner's far post cross and made a couple of other useful interventions before Spurs managed their first serious attack, with Defoe crossing for Tainio to score in the 20th minute.  However, the Finnish international managed to shoot over the bar from the edge of the six yard box.

Tottenham had an even better chance to score when the ball was knocked down by Bouma's upper arm and the ref pointed to the spot.  Defoe grabbed the ball to take the spot-kick, but Sorensen, retained despite his nightmare performance at Upton Park, dived to his right to save the ball.  It was not the best struck penalty, but the Villa keeper was probably a yard off his line when the ball was struck, but that was not spotted.

Michael Carrick was prodding and poking Spurs into life with short and long passes, but it was his shot that brought an excellent save from Sorensen in the 35th minute, as he hit a firm curling drive from 25 yards and the Dane dived to hold the ball well.  Things seemed to get worse for Spurs when Anthony Gardner went over, without any challenge on him and had to be taken off holding his thigh.  Having had a good start to the season, it was a disappointing turn of events for Ant and he was replaced by Noureddine Naybet.

Just before half-time Angel rose to head Berger's cross and Robinson did well to save low down to his right hand side and then he produced another save that marks him out from the rest.  The Colombian striker this time set up Baros and as his shot seemed to be arrowing into the bottom right hand corner of ENO's net, he dived to the ground to keep it out.  I know he says he is paid to do this stuff, but he shouldn't have to do it so often !!

The break came at the right time for Spurs, as Villa were pressing forward.  That didn't stop after the interval, but at least Jol and Hughton had the opportunity to discuss how they would counter it.  Just after the turn-around, Angel hit a shot that Naybet tried to block, but only succeeded in deflecting up into the air, leaving Robinson to catch it under his bar.  Naybet did a bit better when Milner hit a drive that he did get in the way of.  Spurs were struggling to find any fluency, some of which might have been due to the exuberant refereeing of Steve Bennett, who was keen to blow his whistle and ignore some of the more blatant offences that went on.  Milner's two assaults on Lee earned him a talking to, while Ledley got booked for his first foul and Ridgewell got away with planting a size 9 into the small of Rasiak's back as he jumped for a high ball !!

Defoe made a neat run off the ball, to take Rasiak's flick and hit a shot across the face of goal, while another free-kick for an innocuous challenge by Naybet gave Villa the chance to have another go at goal.  Berger flighted the bal into the Spurs box and Ridgewell reacted ahead of any Spurs defender and volleyed a shot that Robbo just got a touch on to deflect it up and onto the bar.  As the ball bounced down, the Spurs keeper reacted smartly to punch the ball out.  Strangely enough, Spurs broke up the pitch and as the ball bounced in the area, Jermain Defoe turned to smack a 10 yard shot against the underside of the Villa bar and it was cleared when it dropped down.

Rasiak was winning a fair few headers and glanced one wide from Reid's cross and then another went into Defoe's run that brought an instant volley and a good palm wide by Sorensen.  By this time, Keano was on for Reid and the three were playing up front.  Spurs had a corner that Carrick took and he found Jeans, but the ball was a little behind him and he could not get much power in the header, leaving the Villa goalie an easy save.  Jol's move prompted O'Deary to take off Bouma and replace him with Samuel, but despite bringing on a more mobile and maybe more attacking defender, he made little difference.  He did produce a long cross-field ball to Baros, which the Czech tried to volley in, but just about kept in the ground !!

Naybet was lucky to have cover, or he would have been sent off for his bringing down of Baros and he picked up only a yellow card.  Shortly after, Baros was not flagged offside although it looked very close and he went through one on one on Robinson, but as the Spurs goalie came out to narrow the angle, Baros took his shot and put it well wide.

It was a costly miss, as in the 78th minute, Rasiak started a move that saw Defoe try to get a shot in, but Mellberg managed to nudge the ball away from him, but only to Keane, who shot firmly past Sorensen from 12 yards out.  It was just about what Spurs deserved and they had the lion's share of possession and as many shot as the home side.  A brave substitution and change of tactics had paid off for Martin.  Five minutes later, Tainio's pass into Defoe saw him turn Steve Davis and hit a low drive that Sorensen did well to get to low by his post.

With Baros hitting a shot well wide and Keane unsuccessfully trying to lob Sorensen, there was little at the end to trouble either keeper and the teams trudged off with a point apiece.

It was a tough time to face Villa, as they were always going to be better today than they were against West Ham, yet we earned a point, when up against it.  It could have been more had Defoe converted his penno or Tainio knocked in his first goal from Spurs instead of opting for the more difficult task of knocking it over the bar !!  Still, we lost this one in the least two seasons by a single goal and points are important, however they come about.


Kirk Hammerton




There was much debate in the ground as we left as to whether this point was a good one or not.  "Villa are crap", "There was always going to be a reaction to losing to West Ham", "We would have lost this last year" and "At least we didn't lose like last year."  

Well, there are bits of all those statements that you can't disagree with.  ViIla are crap.  Always have been, but you still have to beat what's in front of you and today it was a side up for getting the 0-4 defeat against the Irons out of their system.  Yes, we would have lost this last year ... and did in fact !!  But the thing that did come out of this match, even if it wasn't three points, was that there is a resilience to this Spurs side (even without Davids) and the belief that they can keep playing and get something out of a match they slip behind in early on.

The Villa goal was shocking really.  We had already gone close with Ledley's header, which should really have hit the target and then when Jenas ceded possession in his own last third, Baros Picked out Milner on the far side of the pitch.  Even with three closing him down, Milner found space to score with a 25 yard shot that flew past Robinson, who had not a chance to stop it.

Spurs were rocking and found the pressure eased by having a top keeper in their goal.  Robinson really is a goalie at the top of his game.  It was a bit of poor positioning by Ledley, when Bouma's cross went over our captain's head for Angel to get a headed effort on goal, but Robbo was there to block it.  His save from Baros with his feet might not have looked anything special, but his anticipation made the save look easy.

Spurs did have their chances though.  Tainio turned on a low ball in from Defoe, who had turned Ridgewell inside out, but the Finn's finishing was too high.  There was a great diagonal ball from Lee that put Defoe in the penalty area against Bouma.   As he got a touch to the bal and knocked it up, Bouma's arm took the ball away from him and there was no doubt it was a penalty.  Defoe topped his spot-kick though and Sorensen saved, but his shot against the bar in the second half from Rasiak's header was very unlucky.

While Rasiak did well up front in the air, he switched off at a free-kick and let Ridgewell get ahead of him to volley against the Spurs bar just before Defoe rattled the woodwork.  However, it was Rasiak who won headers to set up Keane's volley and flicked the ball up for Defoe that lead to Keane's goal.  Keano got in front of Gareth Barry very quickly to move the ball forward with the sole of his boot, then shifted the ball swiftly from left foot to right and hitting it in the same movement.  If flew past Sorensen, who didn't have time to set himself.

Keane obviously enjoyed his goal, even though he was unable to celebrate in his normal fashion, he let out a primal scream to demonstrate the frustration he feels at not getting a regular start.  Perhaps Jol will persist with the three strikers up front when he feels it necessary ... especially in winnable games away from home.

Jenas was a little withdrawn today, not as involved as last week and lacking the passing sharpness he showed, while Carrick was outstanding with his array of passes and he was unlucky when he tested Sorensen.  The Danish goalie was like a different keeper from the one who had more howlers than a teenage Chav mum at Upton Park.  His save from Keane's volley was a super save too.

Losing Gardner and without Dawson being there, Naybet was exposed to pace and had to resort to bringing down Baros for a caution.  With some good reading of the game, he made enough interventions to keep Villa at bay.  Lee was a willing runner, but failed to make the inroads he did against Liverpool, while Stalteri looked ill at ease with the pace of Baros and even Berger caused him trouble.

It was not the best performance, but on another day, we could have won it.  As could Villa.  We should be glad that Baros' finishing was off target and when through on Robinson in the second half, woefully so.  It could have been about 6-6, but a point wasn't such a bad result, although the expectation is such that every game is a certain three-pointer to some.  Just appreciate that the point gained here is progress on last season.  Three points will be the next step in the development of the Spurs team of the future.



Other scores this weekend :
Charlton Athletic 0 Chelsea 2 Saturday
Fulham 1 West Ham United 2 Saturday
Sunderland 1 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Birmingham City 1 Saturday
Blackburn Rovers 0 Newcastle United 3 Sunday
Liverpool 0 Manchester United 0 Sunday
Manchester City 0 Bolton Wanderers 1 Sunday
Wigan Athletic 1 Middlesbrough 1 Sunday


2 Everton 0 Monday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 6 6 0 0 12 0 18 +12
2 Charlton Athletic 5 4 0 1 8 3 12 +5
3 Manchester United 5 3 2 0 6 1 11 +5
4 Bolton Wanderers 6 3 2 1 7 4 11 +3
5 Manchester City 6 3 2 1 7 5 11 +2
6 West Ham United 5 3 1 1 10 4 10 +6
7 Arsenal 5 3 0 2 9 4 9 +5
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 6 2 3 1 5 3 9 +2
9 Middlesbrough 6 2 2 2 6 6 8 0
10 Wigan Athletic 5 2 1 2 4 4 7 0
11 Liverpool 4 1 3 0 1 0 6 +1
12 Aston Villa 6 1 3 2 5 9 6 -4
13 Portsmouth 6 1 2 3 5 8 5 -3
14 Newcastle United 6 1 2 3 4 7 5 -3
15 Birmingham City 6 1 2 3 5 9 5 -4
16 Fulham 6 1 2 3 5 9 5 -4
17 West Bromwich Albion 6 1 2 3 6 11 5 -5
18 Blackburn Rovers 6 1 2 3 3 8 5 -5
19 Everton 5 1 0 4 1 6 3 -5
20 Sunderland 6 0 1 5 3 10 1 -7

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