After advancing in the Capital One Cup in midweek, it’s back to Premier League action this Sunday with Aston Villa vs Spurs at Villa Park.
Paul Lambert’s side raced out of the traps this season taking ten points from their first four matches, but have lost their last five since, without scoring a goal.
So, what should we be on the look out for in Aston Villa vs Spurs and how do you go about beating the Villains?
Exposing the Villa full backs
Teams looking to create scoring chances against Aston Villa have done it by getting in-behind their full backs, most notably right back Alan Hutton.
We know all about Hutton’s very aggressive play going forwards. The former Spurs man likes to rampage down the wing with his bustling style. What this does is leave him open to being counter attacked on.
Everton ran out easy 3-0 winners against Aston Villa. They scored two goals and created other chances by getting in-behind the full backs.
With Jagielka and Coleman scoring from crosses, Romelu Lukaku also got on the score sheet after he was fed in by Ross Barkley.
Hutton was caught running back, which pulled Ron Vlaar out of the centre. This left Lukaku with space to run in to as fellow centre back Nathan Baker had to cover Steven Naismith.
Getting in-behind Hutton to pull a centre back out is how Man City, the last visitors to Villa Park, finally broke down Paul Lambert’s side.
Man City were dominant in the game but struggled for 82 minutes to break a deep lying Villa down. That was until James Milner got behind Alan Hutton, pulling centre back Philippe Senderos out of the middle.
City had three players between the lines, as Milner found Yaya Toure to open the scoring.
Sergio Aguero would then double City’s advantage. His goal came from going through the middle, but worked with him running off Hutton, as Edin Dzeko took both centre backs away with his run.
In Villa’s previous home game with Arsenal, they too created from getting in-behind Alan Hutton. He was caught forward when Danny Welbeck met Mesut Ozil’s cross. The Gunners, like Everton and City, also created chances that originated with balls from or in to both full back zones.
Villa are susceptible to conceding chances through the full back zones, but also between their centre backs.
They are much more organised when Ron Vlaar is in the line-up, as he offers leadership and a better positional sense than Senderos, Baker or Ciaran Clark. Vlaar’s injury troubles have meant that they haven’t had a consistent pairing and can be often left on different wavelengths.
Man City’s second goal by Sergio Aguero was an example of this, as both centre backs were drawn towards the run of Edin Dzeko. City also created other a host of other chances by going through the middle.
Man City didn’t necessarily adapt their game to attack the full backs, it was just their goals arrived from exposing Hutton’s movement. They the arey a juggernaut of a side that focus on their style rather than changing, hence their often problems in Europe.
We, on the other hand, are less imposing when compared to the powerhouse that is Manchester City. The Tottenham tactics for Spurs vs Aston Villa therefore would see us do well to look to get players in-behind in the right back zone. Alan Hutton looks to be out of the game, but replacement Matthew Lowton is also attack-minded and equally susceptible to being caught forward.
The selection of our personnel on the left will be key and Danny Rose could be instrumental in creating chances from here.
Press or drop off?
Aston Villa are built to counter attack. They like to get men behind the ball, drop off and then break forward at speed. The question the opposition has is whether to be invited on and try to press them high up to hem them in? Or to drop off and lure them out?
Man City were the last team to visit Villa Park in the Premier League and were very aggressive. City had a big, strong, physical midfield with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho on the park, backed up by Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala.
This allowed them to have a dominant 68% possession and create a host of chances until they broke the deadlock on 82 minutes. However, they were susceptible to the counter attack and Kieran Richardson should have put Villa ahead.
On Monday night QPR showed the other way to take Villa on. They dropped off and invited the Villains forward, giving them 65% of the ball.
The problem for Villa was that they struggled to create opportunities without the space for Agbonlahor, Benteke and Weimann to run in to and thus did very little.
QPR scored from a long ball forward that countered quickly to expose the Villa centre backs to Zamora’s strength. They added a second as Eduardo Vargas got in-behind left back Aly Cissokho to cross for Charlie Austin, highlighting the full back issue once more.
Mauricio Pochettino really has a choice to make here with the Tottenham tactics for Aston Villa vs Spurs.
We’ve not seen massive amounts of high pressing this season; instead we’ve seen it in sporadic spurts. If he is to go down this route, then a strong physical midfield is needed and options like Moussa Dembele would be preferable alongside Etienne Capoue.
If he looks to drop off and lure Villa out – they are the home team and will be expected to come forward – then this is also a viable option. Speed of ball and player movement will be key though.
Mauricio Pochettino has faced Aston Villa on two occasions when in charge with Southampton.
First time he played 4-3-3 and got picked off on the counter as Villa won 3-2 at St. Mary’s. The return at Villa Park was a 0-0 draw as Pochettino went back to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
What our new coach hasn’t tried is his twin striker approach, whereby he goes with a second striker as a number ten.
He did it with Southampton as Dani Osvaldo played off Rickie Lambert. We’ve seen him do it here with Harry Kane playing off Roberto Soldado, but only in the Europa League or Capital One Cup games.
With both Man City and QPR opting for two strikers in Villa’s last two Premier League matches, both of which were losses, Mauricio Pochettino might want to do the same.
Aston Villa vs Spurs outlook
We have a good record at Villa Park, winning on our last three visits there. Unfortunately Mauricio Pochettino’s record against Paul Lambert doesn’t read as well, having lost and drawn in his two encounters with him.
Pochettino will have a number of decisions to make as to how aggressive we play in order to nullify Villa’s counter attack. He should also consider what formation he opts for.
They key will be attacking the full backs, especially whoever is in the right back position. Whichever team controls the battle in this zone will win the match.
Aston Villa vs Spurs prediction: Aston Villa 0 Spurs 1.