Looking Forward


Aston Villa  (Away)

Premier League

Monday 22nd November 2004

The way things have gone lately, a parachutist could land on the pitch with a gorilla as a companion to nod in the sixteenth goal of the match and no Spurs fan would bat an eyelid !!

Perhaps more likely is a dour low-scoring affair, but with Tottenham, you just never know what you are going to get !!  Martin Jol's perspective on the way Tottenham play looks completely at odds with that of Santini, so it might be entertaining, but there needs to be a modicum of defensive resolve there to keep the goals out at our end.  Maybe the recall of Calum Davenport from loan at West Ham indicates a change in personnel at the back ??

It is at the back where Villa have impressed this season.  Only 14 goals conceded, but that has to be weighed against the 19 they have scored.  A similar difficulty to Spurs in the scoring stakes ... taking the Arsenal game out of the equation, of course.  Sorensen is a good stopper, with a strong defence in front of him in Delaney, Samuel, Mellberg and De La Cruz in good form.  Hairy Olaf Mellberg dominates the aerial part of the game in the back four, while Mark Delaney and Ulysses De La Cruz enjoy to get forward up the line to support the attack.  Jlloyd Samuel is also a player who might bring the ball out of defence, from a more central position and by shutting him down there, it might be possible to force a mistake like Arsenal did to us last weekend.

Some of the midfield seem ordinary on paper, but they function well as a unit.  Gavin McCann is a leggy runner, who likes to get in and around the box, so needs to be tracked back and Lee Hendrie has scored some outstanding goals this season from midfield.  A terrier without the ball and a skillful player with it, he is one of the players that make Villa tick.  The Peruvian international Norberto Solano is the one who ahs the passing ability and movement to open up sides and youngster Peter Whittingham has the energy and drive to push the Villans on, but he might find a tougher midfield against him than a couple of weeks ago. 

The two strikers are in good form too.  On loan Carlton Cole from Chelsea is one that the Villa fans would like to see sign permanently and his height is not his only strength, as he is good on the ball and holds it up well for supporting players to arrive.  Juan Pablo Angel is also having a new lease of life under O'Leary.  Three goals in twelve games is a real return from the player who was set to move onto Spain under previous managers.  He has struck up a partnership with Cole, which although has not notched many goals, has provided chances for others and it remains to be seen if he can be persuaded to stay at Villa Park.

In reserve, there are the Moore twins - Luke and Stefan - who play up front, with Thomas Hitzlsperger with his hammer like left foot to fire shots in on goal from midfield.  Youngsters Liam Ridgewell and Steven Davis are in the running for a place on the bench, with the fruits of a good youth team now reaching the age to step up to the first XI. 

This will be a tough test for Tottenham, but I believe that another week with Jol as the man in charge under their belt will help the team settle into his new style.  Villa are no Arsenal and with a tightening of the defence, I hope it will be possible to keep the goals against to a minimum.  That is why I am going for ...

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.


How have Villa been playing this season ? 

Villa are doing fine this season despite lack of firepower up front as our midfield is scoring the goals for fun. 

Who's the best player at the club just now ? 

I think Lee Hendrie and Olof Mellberg

Which player is having a 'mare ? 

Juan Pablo Angel as he is not getting enough goals, but is getting back to form slowly as he miss out pre-season training due to getting injured while playing for Colombia in the summer.

Any new names in the squad that we should look out for ? 

No one really, but watch out Luke Moore as he is due to a goal. 

Did the collapse of the new Spurs structure surprise you ? 

No due to 3 big foreign coach working together and it can't work. I think Spurs will be a decent top 6 teams in a few years time if they manage to make the team gel and stick with Defoe and Keane partnership and find another midfielder like Hoddle / Gascoigne / Waddle / Ginola to make the team much better.  

O'Leary is still there, so he must be winning the battle with Deadly ... mustn't he ?  

He is doing everything right but he still need big bucks from the chairman to improve the squad and team.  

What is your line-up expected to be ? 


De La Cruz, Delaney, Mellberg, Samuel

Solano, Hendrie, McCann,  Hitzsperger or Whittingham

Cole Angel

Subs Postma,   Hitzsperger or Whittingham, Davis, Ridgewell, Moore, and Berson.

What do you reckon the score will be ? 

Probably 2-0 or 3-1 to Villa.


Thanks to Michael Ault (The Villan)


ASTON VILLA :  Darius Vassell (ankle); Martin Laursen (knee); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Sean Davis (knee); Anthony Gardner (foot); Goran Bunjevecvic (compartment syndrome); Stephen Kelly (concussion/broken thumb); 


TV : 
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Radio : 
BBC Radio London (94.9 FM - London area only) - Live Commentary

Internet :
www.spurs.co.uk   Live webcast  - subscribers only
Planet football - http://play.www.planetfootball.servecast.net/downloads/sky/spurs_match_new.ram (free - only available when match is on)



Aston Villa   1    Tottenham Hotspur   0      (Half-time score : 0-0)
Premier League Venue :   Villa Park
Monday 22nd November 2004 Kick Off :  20.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,702 Referee :   C. Foy (Merseyside)
Weather :  Chilly, damp
Teams : - 
Aston Villa : 


De la Cruz

Solano (Moore 87)
Hitzlsperger (Barry 76)


Unused subs: 

Tottenham Hotspur :   


Edman (Ziegler 46)

Mendes (Keane 70)
Atouba (Davenport 84)


Unused subs: 

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

Solano 57

Tottenham Hotspur 


Cards : -  
Aston Villa 



Tottenham Hotspur  



Match Report : -  
The lack of a decent final ball and the lack of a decent finish to the half-chances that did fall Tottenham's way left Villa with the points thanks to Norberto Solano's deft skill and stunning volley in the 57th minute.

Spurs extended their longest Premiership losing run to six games now, with a narrow loss at Villa Park.  There was little between the teams really, but a stunning goal proved the difference in the end.  And it was Tottenham's inability to hold onto the ball that allowed Villa the opportunities for Paul Robinson to show what a fine keeper he is.

Jermain Defoe was lively all night, but lacked the sort of quality service has needed, but his was the first effort of this game and he brought Sorensen to a low save from his 20 yard shot in the third minute.  Tottenham's next move was a training ground set-piece at a 20 yard free-kick, but the ref, who stymied Spurs all night, managed to cock it up by getting in the way as Defoe was set to strike a ball laid square to him.  Eventually the ball broke to Brown on the edge fo the box and his low shot was saved easily.

Almost immediately, play switched to the Spurs end and a slip by Naybet that left him on his face allowed Cole through on the right to hit a shot from a narrow angle, which Robbo did well to keep out low to his left.  Switching to the other end again, Atouba nut-megged Delaney and dug out a shot that Sorensen caught above his head as the effort nearly surprised him.

Villa were kept at distance and Hitzlsperger and Angel both had efforts fly wide, while Tottenham's best chance came with seven minutes of the half remaining.  A quick free-kick saw Pamarot play a low ball into the box for Kanoute and Fredi's touch laid the ball to the right where Michael Brown took the ball, but slipped as he shot and the ball went to the near post, where the Villa goalie just about managed to flop on the ball.

Ziegler was the replacement for Edman, who apparently had an ankle injury, which might have explained his erratic first half performance, in which he was involved in a couple of penalty area challenges with Angel that brought cries of "penalty" from the home fans.

Spurs looked better at the start the second half, keeping the ball and a move that saw Mendes released on the right wing, brought a firm header from Kanoute to get on the end of his cross, but the ball flew wide.  Then Atouba played Defoe in on the left wing and cutting inside, he unleashed a shot that flew the wrong side of the post by a yard or two.

Then Villa won their first corner.  Hitzlsperger took it and it fizzed into the box, missing Angel's head, but fell to Solano centrally in the six yard box.  No Spurs player was close enough to him to stop him flicking the ball up and swiveling to hit a powerful volley past Robinson to give his side the lead.  it was a cracking goal, as many are that Spurs seem to concede that make the difference between winning and losing in games like this.

Unperturbed, Spurs pressed on for an equaliser and in the 59th minute Defoe took Fredi's cross at the near post and as he turned, Samuel trod on his foot and down the Spurs striker went.  Unfortunately, the ref was not of the same opinion as the Tottenham supporters and he gave handball for Jermain landing on the ball !!  Straight away, Robinson showed why he is England's Number One with a fine save.  The ball was worked down Tottenham's left and as it was pulled back across goal, the Spurs keeper made a lot of ground along his line to throw himself in front of Solano's drive at the far post and block it out.  He was also sharp enough to keep out Cruz's low effort at his near post just afterwards too.

Once more Fredi got on the end fo a Mendes cross, but got the ball off target and for me, he failed to show enough desire to win tonight.  He was too easily shrugged off the ball and let it get away from him too often.  Calum Davenport's introduction was not, as expected, in defence, but as an auxiliary striker and his height did win a few balls there.  His best assist was a back-heel up into the air in the box that Robbie Keane hit a long way over the bar as it dropped.  The last opportunity came with a 25 yard free-kick that Zeigler smashed into the wall and off for a corner, but that did not create a problem for the home team.

Martin Jol has some work to do to get the team organised to start picking up points again.  I think that there will be a change in the way the team play in the short term, but they did look OK going forward, but there was a lack of clear-cut chances tonight and that is what out forwards are going to need if we are to start winning again.





Match sponsor :  IBM -





Well, with the midfield not closing down the Villa opposite numbers quickly enough, the home side were able to play some neat one touch football in triangles around our midfielders.  That left us chasing shadows and thankfully, Villa's finishing was about as potent as our own ... except for Solano's skillful goal.  What was he doing so alone in the six yard box from a corner though ?  I am getting thoroughly fed up with every goal scored against us these days finishing up as Goal of the Month (remember Delap's last season at the New Dell ?).  Why can't they score them against the Uniteds and Arsenals ?

But the main thing that worries me about Spurs at the moment is the lack of cohesion up front.  There is a lack of inter-passing and that leads to the ball being given away unnecessarily, so it is suddenly transferred through our midfield and before we know it, the ball is on our defence meaning Robinson is called into action too often.

Jol will need to address the fact that we need to hold the midfield as a base to launch our attacks from.  While the defence is not the most brilliant in the world, it is staunch enough to keep sides at bay, especially with the sound Robbo behind them.  The midfield is crying out for a ball winner in the mould of Graham Roberts or Steve Perryman (and yes, I know he played in defence for most of his career, but he started it as an energetic - in your face - midfield battler).  If that is van Bommel, so be it, but I haven't seen him in that role.  He's more of a floating ball player and not a solid tackler.

I am not sure who might be the person to come in and do that for us.  Someone like Gravesen, but I reckon he is destined for higher clubs than Spurs.  Maybe Arnesen will be able to pluck someone from a European or South American league somewhere.  That might transform the team and our season.

The Heathrow Spur


I've got more chance of winning the lottery than that Spurs side had of getting anything from Villa last night !

Watching the game on sky I wonder if Martin Jol was actually there !  Did they just wheel him in for the post match interview ?  Apparently we could have got a draw from this game !  The simple fact is that we created very little and when we did manage to break with any kind of space we gave the ball away too cheaply (Fredi take note - as it's your diabolical first touch that is costing us here).  The team played toooooo deep on a long thin pitch - why ?  Did they have someone of blistering pace up front that we should have been scared of ?  What's wrong with pushing up a bit and narrowing the 45 mile gap between the defence/midfield and attack?

I'm VERY disappointed! I have high expectations, and I expect my side to play with shape, style and craft - to boss the game and control the ball/play - something that we haven't looked like doing for a long time (2nd half against Burnley excepted!).

What happened to the 'attractive' style Jol was talking about, looked like a flash back to the man in the raincoat with us totally bypassing the midfield, but then seeing as most of them went missing anyway...

The thing that taunts me is we don't have any 'presence', there is no-one in this side who stands out as the play-maker/talisman of the side and that is where we are lacking.  Why is Mendes played out wide right when we have Davies and Ricketts ?  And why is Carrick being played in the holding role that Mendes should be in? HE'S NOT THAT KIND OF PLAYER !  Stop fudging the players to suit your system - you don't see Ferguson playing Gary 'I didn't touch him ref' Neville as a centre midfielder do you ?  No !  That's 'cos he'd be crap there.

With this in mind I've devised my own team, this is how I think we should line up (utilising current personnel):

GK - Robinson (of course)
LB - Edman and if he's injured Atouba (he looked a lot happier there last night I thought)
CB - King
CB - Ummm tricky. I'd put Davenport in I think it's time the young man stepped up and had a go. We can always go back to mare-bet later on if needs be...
RB - Where's Kelly gone ?  He looked like a real talent in the Burnley game, in time I think Pamarot will be a good squad player but until he gets used to the pace of the game we may as well bring on some youth.

LM/W - Zeigler - this boy looks a real find, keep him wide on the touch line and get him to feed crosses in all day long...no shooting!
DCM - Mendes - where he should have played last night! Or Davis if he's fit...
ACM - Carrick - A flat CM but he can push into the hole when we attack to take advantage of his passing ability.
RM/W - Davies or Ricketts - both have the ability to go past players and can provide good crosses.
S1 - Defoe - nuff said
S2 - Keane - he's been pretty dodgy so far this season but I think it's just temporary, give him the ball slightly deeper and let him turn and run at the opposition - easy!

Kanoute - should not be used unless his ball retention improves.
Mendes/Davis - Either or...
Atouba - If he's not already playing. Probably Jackson if he is.
Naybet or dare I say it Gardner - wouldn't really want to use either to be honest, probably reshape the side to include Pamarot instead !
GK - any, doesn't really matter they never get on anyway - not Keller though!

Ok - I've had my go, does anyone else think they can improve on the side (only using current squad)

Let me know...



Other scores this weekend :


1 West Bromwich Albion 1 Saturday
Chelsea 2 Bolton Wanderers 2 Saturday
Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle United 2 Saturday
Everton 1 Fulham 0 Saturday
Manchester United 2 Charlton Athletic 0 Saturday
Middlesbrough 2 Liverpool 0 Saturday
Norwich City 2 SCBC 1 Saturday
Portsmouth 1 Manchester City 3 Saturday
Birmingham City 3 Blackburn Rovers 3 Sunday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 14 10 3 1 23 6 33 +17
2 Arsenal 14 9 4 1 38 18 31 +20
3 Everton 14 9 2 3 16 11 29 +5
4 Middlesbrough 14 7 4 3 24 16 25 +8
5 Aston Villa 14 6 6 2 20 14 24 +6
6 Manchester United 14 6 6 2 16 10 24 +6
7 Bolton Wanderers 14 6 5 3 22 18 23 +4
8 Liverpool 13 6 2 5 21 15 20 +6
9 Newcastle United 14 5 4 5 26 26 20 0
10 Charlton Athletic 13 5 3 5 17 21 18 -4
11 Manchester City 14 4 5 5 17 14 17 +3
12 Portsmouth 13 4 3 6 17 20 15 -3
13 Fulham 14 4 2 8 17 25 14 -8
14 Birmingham City 14 2 7 5 11 14 13 -3
15 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 14 3 4 7 12 17 13 -5
16 Crystal Palace 14 3 3 8 15 21 12 -6
17 SCBC 14 2 5 7 13 19 11 -6
18 Norwich City 14 1 8 5 13 24 11 -11
19 West Bromwich Albion 14 1 7 6 13 25 10 -12
20 Blackburn Rovers 14 1 7 6 14 33 10 -15

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