An abysmal performance in Wales has sown the first seeds of doubt in Steve Bruce’s tenure as Villa boss. Thankfully for him comes a distraction from Villa’s poor league positioning in the form of an FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur. in many ways it’s a like a preseason game the Villa boss never had.
Whilst we have to endure the undead playing up-front, the least we can ask of him is to make up for all of the lost goals that fans have been waiting years for.
Unfortunately the match will surely do nothing more than remind many Villa fans how low the team has sunk in recent years as Villa play a team in a division above them for the first time in decades.
Bruce has confirmed that he is taking the F.A Cup seriously by even going as far as saying that he will be playing his strongest team. At this point, does anybody know what Villa’s strongest team is? Regardless of team selection, progressing to the next round could be a great confidence booster; especially when it comes to knocking out one of the favourites of the competition.
Here’s three ways of making it happen…
Blessing in Disguise
Looking at Tottenham’s performance in the Premier League this season would understandably see many Villa fans putting their life savings on a home win. Dominant victories throughout the season including Manchester City and Chelsea (H), whilst they have only lost to title contenders Manchester United and Chelsea (A).
The F.A Cup always brings drama and cup upsets along with it on an annual basis and this tie shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Tottenham may look unstoppable at times, but this is with their star-studded line up. Mauro Pocchetino has even admitted that first team players like Kane, Alli and Eriksen will be rested and replaces with players from the youth team.
There has been many occasions that a manager has promised a full-strength team and not delivered, but if Villa are to progress to the next round then Bruce needs follow through and field his strongest XI.
The players that Bruce does choose to face Spurs also need to have the right attitude going in to this game because age is but a number. The youngsters and reserve team players from Tottenham will still have that bit of quality in their locker, but this match can be won if the Villa players show the right attitude and realise why the F.A Cup has so many shocks.
It’s because the team that is weaker on paper don’t just roll over, they take the game to the opposition and try to match them as best they can, an imperative action for Villa’s players to follow.
it will take the likes of Ross McCormack, Albert Adomah, Jack Grealish and co to put in their best shifts of the season, so far.
New Signing Miracle
Villa’s “new signing” Gabby Agbonlahor looks more than likely to start and the only way for Villa to beat Spurs and for Gabby to appease Villa supporters, if he is leading the line, is to bag a hat-trick. Yes, that’s more goals in one game than he’s recently scored in a season, but hey, we need a miracle to beat Spurs and here’s an example of one!
The number of Villa fans that have stood by Gabby is dwindling by the day. Every disappointing performance is another nail in the coffin for his career at Villa, a coffin that Bruce refuses to bury into the ground.
So whilst we have to endure the undead playing up-front, the least we can ask of him is to make up for all of the lost goals that fans have been waiting years for.
Of course, a more likely ‘new signing miracle’ would be Sam Johnstone keeping a clean sheet.
Off Day of the Spur’s 12th Man
A referee who was caught celebrating a goal for Tottenham against Villa in 2015 will be the man in the middle for this F.A Cup tie. Mike Dean has been chosen to referee the match at White Hart Lane which has sparked a flurry of jokes at the official’s expense (the video of him celebrating a Spurs goal against Villa, being a favourite).
His controversial decision to send West Ham’s Sofiane Feghouli off, as well as his well-known record for getting trigger happy with the red card when refereeing Tottenham has gotten many fans feeling that Dean’s going to need an off day if Villa are to progress.
Adnan Januzaj, Winston Reid and most controversial of them all, Nathan Redmond have all faced a red card from Mike Dean when playing against Tottenham this season alone.
So the only way Villa have a chance of winning is for Dean to avoid pulling out the red and not send off any Villa player, because we’ll have no chance if it’s 10 vs 12 men.
Follow Richard on Twitter here: @_RichardAVFC