Against Liverpool it was a swaggering cruise, so were the first halves against QPR and Wigan, last night it was a great win but wasn’t quite in the same class mainly because Villa just didn’t turn up.
A complete bossing of the game from start to finish, bar a couple of minutes at the start of each half. It was a situation helped by the odd team selection by Alex McLeish. As soon as the teams came out and it included Carlos Cuellar and Alan Hutton you knew things could be good. Cuellar is a lumbering lumper and Hutton, well of all the players likely to come back and haunt his ex-team he wouldn’t be high on your list. Bale should be in his element.
Much talk with those two were Villa going back three, they didn’t, it was 4-4-2 but it didn’t matter as who played where was irrelevant. Spurs formation had more relevance as they were allowed to play in a very fluid 2-1-4-3 lineup, so standoffish and passive were Villa. Kaboul and Ledley at the back, with Parker in front, Modric and van der Vaart ahead of him, with the fullbacks, Assou-Ekotto and Walker, pushed right up as the wide midfield and Lennon, Bale and Adebayor right up front.
It was a containing game by Villa’s manager, that didn’t work from the off and bizarrely he didn’t change until very late on into the second half, even after they’d gone behind.
Spurs should have taken the lead very early on as an immaculate cross field ball from Assou-Ekotto – sporting a hairy do only Benny could pull off – found Lennon on the right winger, he took it down, skinned his fullback and put a delightful chip onto Adebayor’s head. The big striker should have scored. It was such a simple finish you start to believe it’s all going to plan with him, off to a flyer and fade fast.
Didn’t have to wait too long for the opener and thankfully Adebayor is back on the scoresheet. Corner from van der Vaart headed out to Bale on the edge of the box, he scuffs his attempt and the ball floats into Adebayor all alone on the edge of the 6 yard box. He overhead kicks it in. Well deserved lead.
Spurs were just bossing things. Lennon looked dangerous the few times he had possession, but most of the stuff came down the left. Bale and Benny having a field day against Hutton and Cuellar. With Spurs pushing right up and looking forward it mean that Parker didn’t have his usual influence on things, the momentum stopping back passing and I don’t believe I saw a useless swivelling dancing spin all night.
It was all forward momentum, though on the very few occasions Villa had what could be counted as an attack they were snuffed out with ease by Kaboul and Ledley. Agbonlahor has pace but Kaboul beat him to everything and when Ledley dummied him. Class. Other than that Villa were stymied by having Darren bent and Emile Heskey.
But for all that possession, knocking on 70%, and van der Vaart, Modric – would say it was the little Croat’s best performance this season – Bale and Adebayor running things it was still one nil and looking like that’s the way it would be come half time. Same old story for Spurs. One of these days they’re gonna be clinical in such games and completely destroy a side.
But five minutes before the break Bale stuck another cross into the danger area, Villa’s defence all at sixes and sevens as the ball drops to Adebayor for the easiest of tap ins. The goals had dried up of late but his general all round play had still been good until the last game, here it was all back. He was all over the park, making tackles, harrying any Villa player with the ball, it was a quality performance.
Still it was only a two goal lead and this is Spurs and the first 15 minutes after the break were coming up. Now after cruising they usually drop off during this period, bit of laurel resting as things get sloppy. Any team has a chance to get back into it. And so it looked again. Spurs started giving the ball away with ease and Villa had a chance, luckily it fell to Darren “confused dot com” Bent, who headed it straight into Friedel’s arms. I’m sure ‘Arry’s missus could have scored it.
It seemed to give those in white a wake up call, as things returned to the way they were in the first 45. Villa on the back foot giving Spurs plenty of space and time to run things.
Only difference being the goals that really would have killed things off didn’t come. They should have mind, Adebayor should have finished this game not only with the match ball but a real hat full. A one-on-one with Given in the Villa goal should have produced the hat-trick goal.
All in all it was an easier a cruise to three points – that took us up to third – as there probably has been this season. Now if they were all like this then ‘Arry’s ticker won’t be giving out any time soon. Though has he put the kiss of death on it by stating Spurs are now title contenders because didn’t it go all tits up after he made that particular deceleration last season?