Steve Bruce had said before the Spurs FA Cup tie that Villa were going to have a go, but despite a resolute first half defensive display, they didn’t really have the courage of their manager’s convictions to turn this into a proper cup tie. In the end, it was a somewhat muted affair.
A lot of supporters have said Villa would never have a chance against Spurs, but this was their second string and the day before enough Championship teams had beaten Premier League teams to demonstrate what happens when you really give it a go. None of these Championship teams have spent £55m+ in the previous transfer window either.
At times Villa played six at the back with the back four playing narrow and Albert Adomah and Leandro Bacuna filling in as outside right and left wing-backs.
When Villa did get it forward there was no willing midfield runners to support Gabby Agonlahor, the isolated lone striker.
The midfield failing to support and link with the forwards is a serious issue that has also held Villa back in their Championship performances and remains a real concern to them functioning as a proper football team with intentions of promotions.
Some Villa fans seem to think that point out the reality of how Villa are playing is negative, but it’ll never be as negative as what they are paying their good money to watch.
Against Spurs, with nothing to lose, the ethos should be how do we get under their skin, ruffle them up and cause them problems? Inviting Spurs to play and come at you in the hope you can hit them on the counter is fine, but when all you have is the diminishing powers of Gabby Agbonlahor on his own as your only outlet, it’s just not going to pan out for you.
Anyway, while we wait for reinforcements from the January transfer window, here’s five reasons to be cheerful.
From what we saw of loanee Sam Johnstone, the signs are promising. Granted Spurs didn’t register a shot on target in the first half, but he showed more than just being a shot stopper which often seems to be the limit of most modern day keepers.
Apart from one cross that he elected to punch instead of catch, a decision perhaps the adverse weather conditions influenced, Johnstone showed sound handling, a decent command of his box and decisive distribution.
Despite his 23 years of age, Johnstone looks a potential upgrade in-between the sticks, so Bruce’s first Villa transfer looks to be a positive one.
While it wasn’t a grandstand performance by Aaron Tshibola it was certainly a step in the right direction (forward), as Villa look desperately to reshape their midfield over the next month. The last few seasons have been a great chance for any young midfield at the club to step up, but none have. Tshibola hopefully can get down to business and turn into a Di Matteo signing that actually worked.
On an aside, The Sun’s attempts at discrediting the Villa midfielder in a hippy crack story were shameful and a clear example of the low moral compass at play with that newspaper. They took their story down which had a picture of Tshibola in his Villa kit blowing up a balloon (they just PRESUMED it must be filled with hippy crack) and looked pretty foolish.
Will there be an apology? If so, probably in the smallest font size possible. Hopefully, Tish will sue them or seek compensation.
I don’t think that’s a problem anymore. Spurs didn’t really get out of second gear, but Villa contained them for most of the game. Obviously when Villa were offering little up the other end in the second half, the game was there for the taking for Spurs by making a few subs and increasing the urgency.
Still, as a test against a level above the Championship, it proves that we’re ok in that department, largely thanks to Chester and Baker at centre back…oh, and the fact we were playing six at the back.
If only we can sort out the rest of the team.
4. Away support
There wasn’t as many as we’re used to this season on our travels, but they were in fine voice through television speakers across the country on the beeb.
i don’t really have to say anymore, as Villa’s away following regularly star in this column as a reason to be cheerful. Hats off to them.
5. Last Time
We’re not going to get beat at White Hart Lane again. With a new stadium for Spurs just around the corner, literally and metaphorically, it’ll be a new ground to visit as Villans the next time we play them…hopefully next season in the league.
I used to like Spurs when I was a kid more than I do now. I think it was down to some of the teams they had – the early eighties FA Cup teams and the one managed by Terry Venables in the Hummel kit – but I always thought Highbury was the more iconic ground and enjoyed visits there more.
There was certainly more emotion in terms of losing Highbury as one of English football’s traditional grounds. After all, Villa did last celebrate winning the league at Highbury.
it’s goodbye to White Hart Lane, but it looks like the new ground will be better.