Our last match of this Premier League season sees us in pole position to qualify for the Europa League, as its Spurs vs Aston Villa at White Hart Lane.
We’ve won both encounters this season at Villa Park, so what can we expect and what should be the Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Aston Villa this time?
Aston Villa conceding goals
Paul Lambert has recently moved to a system with three central defenders. The reason for this is that Aston Villa have given up chances and goals through the middle.
Ron Vlaar is by far their best defender and when he is out of the line-up, Villa have looked extremely shaky. With him at the back, they are better organised, but teams have still been able to pick on his defensive partner. This more often than not has been the more vulnerable Nathan Baker, but also Ciaran Clark.
As part of a back four, Villa’s opponents have been exploiting this weakness through the centre. In their recent trip to the Liberty Stadium, Swansea opened the scoring as Jonjo Shelvey had time a space to play in Wilfried Bony.
In running out comfortable 4-1 winners, Swansea got a host of shots off from central locations.
Just prior to the mauling at Swansea, Aston Villa went to Old Trafford. The Red Devils also struck four times and carved the Villains up through the middle as well.
This included a penalty, which saw Shinji Kagawa split Villa’s centre backs with a pass to Juan Mata, who was brought down in the box.
Swansea also scored a penalty after Martin Emnes drifted in to space between Vlaar and Baker, with the latter felling him as the ball came in.
As Villa slipped down the table, these problems prompted Paul Lambert to move to a back three. The vulnerable Nathan Baker is now being given more cover with Ciaran Clark and Ron Vlaar on each side of him.
As you’d expect, the chances have been reduced through the middle, but teams have had success by attacking the wingbacks.
Villa’s recent trip to Selhurst Park saw them deploy their three centre back system. However, the Eagles managed to create chances and score the game’s only goal from attacking through the wingback areas.
In Villa’s last away trip to Man City, the Citizens struggled for 64 minutes to break them down. However, persistence in attacking the wingback areas finally paid off. City also went on to score four times, with left back zone being the focus.
The thing about Aston Villa is that the right side patrolled by Matthew Lowton has usually been the weak spot.
City did initially go after this through their use of Aleksander Kolorov on his flank. However, after Paul Lambert moved Andreas Weimann in front of Lowton to give him more cover, Pablo Zabaleta created the better chances from the other side.
If Paul Lambert continues with his three centre backs rather than reverting back to his usual 4-3-3, then our full backs will be crucial in opening Villa up.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Aston Villa here will see Danny Rose and Kyle Naughton being critical to the attack. Rose likes to get forward at every opportunity, Naughton is much more reserved, but he will need to be more offensive here.
The loss of Christian Benteke
Apart from their three-goal defeat of Hull last weekend, Aston Villa have really struggled to score without Christian Benteke.
The Belgian has netted ten times in the Premier League this season, with the next highest goal scorers being Leandro Bacuna and Andreas Weimann, both with five.
The problem for Aston Villa is that they were playing as a counter attacking team, moving the ball quickly up to Benteke and working off him.
Without him, they don’t have his presence to win balls in the air or his strength to hold possession up and bring others in to play. Villa are also limited without his pace, as he can run in-behind defences.
This problem is compounded without the speed of the injured Gabriel Agbonlahor, as they are only left with the pace of Andreas Weimann. Whilst the Austrian has speed, he has relatively little hold up or aerial presence. Weimann running on to Ashley Westwood’s pass and firing across Joe Hart after a Man City corner was an indicator of the only way that Villa can now hurt teams on the counter.
The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Aston Villa really only need to guard against not over-committing. This would allow Weimann to run in-behind, rather than forcing him to hold the ball up, which he is far less effective at.
Ashley Westwood and Marc Albrighton
Alongside Andreas Weimann, Ashley Westwood and Marc Albrighton are Villa’s two biggest threats.
Albrighton may or may not make it due to a groin injury, but in the last couple of months, his well-delivered crosses and passing have made a serious impact. He set up Villa’s opener last weekend against Hull, whilst also putting an excellent cross on a plate for Agbonlahor the week prior at Swansea.
Without Benteke, he doesn’t have much of a target to aim for, but he can still be dangerous if given time and space.
Ashley Westwood has had a mixed season, but his performances have also picked up in the last couple of months. Westwood is key to Villa moving the ball on the counter attack, as he looks to get play quickly to the forwards.
Again, this is harder for him to do without Benteke, but we can see his intentions to move the ball up the pitch by the length of his vertical passing lines against Hull last weekend.
Westwood also did this in the midweek loss to Man City, springing Weimann from his own half. The Austrian surged forward, but saw his shot deflect wide off Pablo Zabaleta as Villa broke from a Man City corner.
Spurs vs Aston Villa outlook
Aston Villa haven’t won at the Lane since 2008, but as they were against Man City midweek, could be tricky opponents who are stubborn to break down.
The key if Villa continues to play with three central defenders will be getting the ball wide and moving our full backs forward to support the attack. From there we need to get men in the box in order to feed on any service they provide.
Spurs vs Aston Villa prediction: Spurs 2 Aston Villa 0.