Looking Forward



Premier League

Saturday 28th April 2001

Aston Villa have had a troubled season.  With "Deadly" Doug Ellis in charge, it will never be anything else at Villa.  He hands out money to his managers as often as he hands out their cards and thinks he is doing a fine job there; something that is not inline with the thinking of most Villa fans.

Having conceded three goals in each of our last two matches, the defence would, one suspects, be the area that needs looking at.  However, being down to ten men for half the game against Chelsea and playing against 12 at Liverpool meant that there was little chance of keeping either side out.  However, with a fresh game at home and with the side developing a way of playing under Glenn Hoddle, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel despite all the injuries.

Villa have been sticking with David James in goal despite his pronouncement that he feels he is bigger than the club and that their ambition didn't match his own.  Little could be further from the truth, as he is lucky to be with a decent side after a string of dodgy performances when at Liverpool and then at Villa.  His handling is suspect, so it is always worth following in a shot which may be spilled and for a very tall man, his problems with crosses are puzzling.  By putting him under pressure, Spurs could gain some reward, but unfortunately the players who might do this best are not in the side, but on the treatment table.  Should Les return, he might be able to distract the goalie.

In front of him, he will not have the sizable Turkish player, Alpay, who is still suspended.  His height has added to the defence, especially in the absence of Ehiogu who fled to Boro'.  He has also been unsettled, but appears to have resolved his differences and looks set to stay.  At left back is Alan Wright, one of the shortest players in the Premier League.  He more than makes up for this with his effort in running up and down the line.  The diminutive defender doesn't score very often, but when he does it is usually spectacular like in the 2-4 defeat we suffered two seasons ago at the Lane.  Alongside him will be England defenders Southgate and Barry.  Gareth looks like he might move out of Villa Park, although he has become a bit of a fixture there now and at one time was tempting West Ham United, Chelsea and Spurs.  Barry is the opposite, having just signed an extension to his contract and he is making a place for himself in the England squad with rave reviews for his performances in the Villa side.  Steve Staunton is also available after returning from Liverpool, but has been used sparingly since then.  former Cardiff defender Mark Delaney has also struggled to reassert himself in the first team since recovering from injury, but could be on the bench.

Midfield is an area where the club are well served.  Ex-Gooner Paul Merson is heading towards retirement (about the only heading he will do !!), but is still capable of finding a defence opening pass and Ian Taylor may be getting on, but he still gets up and down the pitch like a good 'un.  He always seems to have the knack of scoring against us, so it might be just as well to keep a close eye on him.  George Boateng has been hit by injury and inconsistency since the season started and although he always appeared to be everywhere when he was in Coventry's midfield, he hasn't made quite the same impact on the Villa side.  Former Forest man Steve Stone has had some run-ins with Spurs over the years and has been playing reasonably regularly for him in the side.  A reliable worker and he has the ability to put dangerous balls into the box from wide positions.  One who the club are very keen on is Lee Hendrie.  Small enough to fit in your pocket, he makes light of his size by his tenacious work busying himself in midfield.  He gets goals, makes them and also has a streak that gets him into trouble - usually for dissent - which is something he will have to sort out. 

Up front Villa have had trouble scoring goals.  Not through any lack of personnel there, but a lack of finishing power.  Dion Dublin is another of those players who has built his career on goals against Spurs.  Expect him to get on the scoresheet whatever else happens.  Darius Vassell is a lively striker with an eye for goal and he's not proud about which part of his body it goes in off !!  Unlike record 9 million signing Juan Pablo Angel, who seems to have forgotten what a goal looks like !!  Still, that probably means he will get off the mark against us then.  Julian Joachim is another who has expressed his desire to leave Villa, but now appears happier to stay and his pace is a special weapon against Premier League defences.  We will need to put Anthony Gardner on him with his pace over a short distance being a useful counter to that of Joachim.

Last, but not least, is a very special player.  Well to those at White Hart Lane if not Villa Park.  David Ginola.  Dispatched to the reserves in a sweeper role by John Gregory is the sort of move you would expect from a Sunday league manager, but Ginola took it professionally and has now got back into the side.  He was scathing about Tottenham earlier in the season under George Graham, so maybe now he might notice a change in style and personnel under Glenn Hoddle.  Ginola on his day can cause a lot of damage, so he will need to be watched carefully by Stephen Carr.  However, Daveeed will have his work cut out chasing back after Stevie C as he bombs forward.

With something to play for - pride, now the home record has been breached twice - Spurs should want to put on a good show before returning for the last home game of the season at home to Manchester United.  Therefore, a tight game, mainly battled out in midfield, but ending ... 

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham  2   Aston Villa  0

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



Tottenham  0  Aston Villa  0  -  Sunday 28th April 2001

Weather : -  Rainy, sunny
Crowd : -  36,096
Referee : -  Clive Wilkes (Norfolk)
Linesmen : -  D.C. Richards [Yellow Flag]; A. J. Green [Quartered Flag]
Fourth Official : - M. Warren

Scorers : -   Tottenham  -  None
                       Aston Villa  -  None

Tottenham : -  Sullivan, Carr, Doherty, Young, Gardner, Clemence, Korsten, Sherwood, Leonhardsen, Davies (Etherington 76), Ferdinand (Thelwell 76)
Subs not used:  Walker, Piercy, Hillier
Manager : - Glenn Hoddle

Aston Villa : -  James, Barry, Southgate, Staunton (Ginola 80), Wright, Delaney, Boateng, Taylor, Dublin, Vassell (Joachim 80), Merson
Subs not used:  Enckelman, Stone, Samuel
Manager : -  John Gregory

For 80 minutes of this match, the most creative player available sat on the bench.  Mr. Gregory was obviously making a point to him and the Spurs fans, but Ginola did come on to a rapturous welcome.  There was little on view for the rest of the match that suggested either side wanted or perhaps more accurately was capable of scoring a goal.

There was a hint that Spurs might try and take the game to Villa, when Clemence headed and made James save in the eighth minute, but there was little to follow this up.  A majority of the game got bogged down in the middle of the pitch and there were very few chances for the teams to score.  For Spurs a flashing header from Ferdinand went over the bar and then he proceeded to poke the ball over the bar from a yard out when a low ball into the box found him at the far post.  Leo had another chance when he got into a good position following Davies' break into the box, but James was out quickly to block his progress.  At the other end of the pitch, Spurs had to defend against Boateng's forward breaks, but the only uncomfortable moment came when Sullivan dropped a high ball and Dion Dublin appeared to clear the ball rather than put it towards goal.  However, it was Gary Doherty who had done the job rather than the big Villa forward.

Into the second period and the fare was more of the same.  The teams huffed and puffed, but ended up getting nowhere.  In truth, Villa had the better of the second half and Dublin fired wide, Taylor over and when Merson broke free, Sullivan's save denied him and Darius Vassell, following up from that hit his shot at goal, but found Luke Young on the goal-line to clear.  A couple of scrambles in the Spurs goalmouth ended in nothing and only when Ginola came on did Sully get a test, but the Frenchman's shot was straight at the Scottish keeper.

For Spurs there was just a weak Korsten free-kick and a Clemence dead ball that failed to find Ferdinand's head.  That apart, a panic that saw James drop the ball at substitute Etherington's feet and then Southgate clearing it up with a hurried prod across his own goal, there was little to trouble Villa's dodgy keeper.

One of the most entertaining things on offer today was the group of about 30 Ajax fans who were sat in the Park Lane end and who were singing their own songs during the game.  There was some atmosphere there, but what they made of the football, I don't know.

The game bore all the hallmarks then of an end of season game that had nothing at stake, except for Villa this game had Europe riding on it.  Not that you could have told by looking at them.  So the fans got wet, got hot in the first half sun and got little for their ticket price.  Still, as both team managers were probably thinking ... there's always another season.


Peter O'Hanrahanrahan


Match sponsors Peterhurst Limited
Match sponsors Anderson Construction Limited
Match ball sponsors Croft Glass
Match programme sponsors Keegans Construction Consultants
Match shirt sponsors -



Scoreless in Sunshine


... and scoreless in rain too.  And who would have thought there would be dull matches like this once Glenn Hoddle took over ??

In truth, there was little he could do about it.  Both sides treated this match as an end of season run out and although Villa are supposedly pushing for a place in Europe, you would never have guessed it by their showing today.  Although both teams tried t pass the ball about, neither had the quality to do so for a prolonged period nor successfully.  That explains the paucity of goal chances for the fans to get excited about.

James played competently, and therein lies a tale of Tottenham's efforts on goal, while Sullivan made the one difficult save that came his way and Luke Young cleared up behind him when he wasn't available.  Neither forward line could produce an effort worthy of the name, while the midfielders on show could not break through into the box and make their run count with a goal.  This looks like the reason why Spurs and Villa are in the same boat.  Both chasing a place in the promised land of the top six, while spending money to try and catch up with those who have gone forward.  It is hard to see where either side can go.  Hopefully Hoddle will make some purchases to turn his vision of Tottenham into some sort of reality, but in reality, that depends on the backing of ENIC, much as John Gregory relies on "Deadly" Doug Ellis to loosen the purse strings and not tighten the noose around his neck.

The game had "end of season" written all over it.  Spurs, hit by injury, took the opportunity to see some of the young players in action today and really, they put the oldies to shame.  Sherwood tried on no less than three occasions to foul and opponent ... and missed.  The game just passes him by in midfield and you wonder if Glenn sees Petit as the man to effectively take Tim's place.  As for Hoddle's comment that there is a player lurking inside Willem Korsten, then either Glenn has got some pretty nifty X-Ray Specs somewhere and has been able to spot this player or he is buried so far inside the Dutchman that he will never be able to break out to the surface.  I concede that he had a good game at Sunderland as a second half sub and that he was unlucky getting sent off against Chelsea, but forgetting his goal against Liverpool, what has he done to show that he could be even a half-decent squad player ??  I don't like having a go at players, but he shows no enthusiasm for the game, will not take players on, has not shown a striker's knack for scoring, is reluctant to go up for headers and his control of the ball is not very good.  In fact, he fails on a regular basis to perform basic skills as taught on the Spurs Summer Training courses.  Where this will fit in with Glenn's idea of a passing game, I am at a loss.  Maybe that is why I am not manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

At least there was one great shining light for Spurs in the game ... Anthony Gardner.  At 20, this lad has a great future.  He looked unruffled against Dion Dublin, who has given Sol so many difficult matches.  His pace made him the match of Vassell and he brought the ball out of defence about half the length of the pitch during the second half.  If Sol does move on, as rumours doing the rounds now indicate he might, then Ant could fit into the back four with ease.  His height, pace and reading of the game for one so young, mark him out as a real Spurs star for many years to come.

Unfortunately, any chance of this being an open game was quashed when Gregory chose Staunton on the left side to stop Stephen Carr getting forward instead of the mercurial Frenchman and former Spur on the left wing.  When Ginola did come on, it was a relief.  At last, we might see some flair, but the two blokes behind me failed to see what all the fuss was about.  "He doesn't play for us anymore does he ?  So why are they all cheering ?"  "I suppose if he scores against us they will cheer that too."  The mere fact that a skillful player was about to enter the arena did not impinge upon their dedication to the cause.  Yes, I would have applauded if he had scored, as long as it was a good goal (as I do when anyone else scores a decent goal against us).  We give a cheer to welcome back former players and hopefully, would feel that we have a reputation as a sporting crowd.  But then, maybe I am not as much as a Spurs fan as them.  After all they thought that the ref had a good game !!

Barry Levington.


Back to homepage