Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Referee: Craig Pawson
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Fans will be allowed back into the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Wednesday, with Aston Villa travelling to North London in the penultimate game week of the season.
The victory over Wolves on the weekend has certainly put Tottenham in a better position to avoid playing a part in the Europa Conference League, with the much more appetising Europa League looking a realistic expectation with two games to go. The performance across the board was vastly improved against Wolves and should boost confidence going into a second home game in a row – one in which the fans will look to add an extra lift to the players.
Dele Alli has had fluttering moments of rejuvenation at sporadic intervals across the previous few seasons. Whether his latest lift in form is one of those brief periods is yet to be seen, but the Englishman has had individual moments of brilliance towards the end of this season. Alli displayed the talent we all knew he possessed against Wolves on the weekend and, with fellow compatriot Harry Kane perhaps destined to leave North London, one wonders whether the new manager should look to build a team around Dele Alli.
Tottenham fans know by now that deflation has more than often been a successor of a victory, but given that Spurs have won all three of their home games under Ryan Mason, perhaps the supporters can afford some optimism going into the midweek fixture. On top of this, the last time Villa claimed as much as a point against Spurs was in 2015, and their games of late have usually ended in a disappointing defeat.
Their latest outing was one such defeat – a dramatic turnaround in which Crystal Palace came back from behind twice to win 3-2. The attacking display was impressive from Villa, but the defensive performance was again lacking, leading to their sixth game in nine in which they have conceded two or more goals. In light of this, you could propose that Dean Smith’s men have dropped their guard as a result of sitting safely in the centre of the table. You could even excuse this, as Villa have produced an impressive points tally in the top flight.
You could paint some parallels between Aston Villa at current and Tottenham Hotspur under Jose Mourinho. It’s not necessarily the defence that is preventing the West Midlands outfit from holding the lead – the midfielders are likely to blame as well. Losing the desire to go two ahead is compounded with complacency when in the lead, meaning that the ball can be swiftly swept across the pitch by the opposition, and it’s back to square one. The key for Dean Smith is to drill the concentration into his players across all areas of the pitch.
Another injury to a full-back has plagued Tottenham, with Serge Aurier missing the weekend’s game with a groin injury. Japhet Tanganga could start in the Ivorian’s place again. Ben Davies remains out with a calf injury.
Hamstring injuries often spell long absences, and thus Matty Cash will be unavailable for the last two games of the season.
Tyrone Mings was absent against Palace on the weekend but should be back in action against Spurs following his minor shin injury. Elsewhere, Trezeguet’s knee injury picked up in April required surgery and Morgan Sanson is regaining fitness following his injury.
Predicted Starting XIs
Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Reguilon, Dier, Alderweireld, Tanganga; Hojbjerg, Lo Celso; Son, Alli, Bale; Kane
Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Martinez; Targett, Mings, Konsa, Elmohamady; Douglas Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Ramsey, Traore; Watkins
Score Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Aston Villa
Tottenham have more to play for than Villa and would be extremely disappointed to come away with anything less than three points. Any other results could squander their Europa League hopes.