Kane helps Villa reach new levels of uselessness: 5 things from Aston Villa 0-2 Spurs
1. Kane alone would give Villa very different outlook
One player doesn’t make a team, but Aston Villa would be a very different proposition if they had Harry Kane as their main striker and not Rudy Gestede. The England forward has scored 18 goals in his last 21 league appearances, four more than Villa have managed as a team in the same period.
Kane was a constant menace for the Villa defence with his simultaneous ability to hold up the ball and run behind defenders
Kane was a constant menace for the Villa defence with his simultaneous ability to hold up the ball and run behind defenders. He scored two goals either side of half-time for Tottenham but gave Remi Garde’s Villa plenty of warning before then.
Inside the first five minutes he beat the offside trap after a through ball from Christian Eriksen, and chipped the ball onto the crossbar. Then, he saw two shots saved in the space of three minutes by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Kane turned Jores Okore in the left-hand channel before racing towards goal, only for the American shot-stopper to thwart the effort with his body.
This was the biggest indication of trouble for Villa, but it didn’t alter much: Kane moved into the space again for the opening goal, finishing with a sweet left-footed strike after Dele Alli’s pass from a quick free-kick. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino could be seen pointing into the area left vacated by Alan Hutton a number of times in the opening 45 minutes.
Kane added his and Spurs' second after the restart when he combined with Alli once more. “He is not only a player that is a top scorer but he works very hard for the team,” admitted Pochettino after the game.
2. Alli and Lamela’s positioning causes chaos
Tottenham were essentially in a 4-2-3-1 formation, but at times it resembled a 4-3-3 with Eriksen slightly more advanced of the double-pivot that was Eric Dier and Mousa Dembele. This allowed both Alli and Erik Lamela to find space between the lines and create opportunities for Spurs.
Both Gueye and Westwood showed a lack of discipline and tried to press the ball when it was too far away
For Villa’s 4-3-3 it meant that Ashley Westwood was left isolated at the base of the midfield, with the attacking pairing picking up the ball at will and turning towards Villa’s defence. Both Okore and Joleon Lescott appeared unsure whether to push further forward and risk leaving Kane one-vs-one.
Garde did rectify this by moving to a 4-2-3-1 himself, with Idrissa Gueye sitting alongside Westwood in the second half, but both players showed a lack of discipline and tried to press the ball when it was too far away.
Lamela hit the post after the deftest of touches with half an hour played, as Kyle Walker’s cross found the Argentine. The ball rebounded off the upright and hit Guzan on the back before Hutton managed to swipe clear with it trickling dangerously close to the goal-line.
The two attackers created seven chances between them, but Pochettino singled out Alli for praise. “Dele was fantastic,” said the Spurs coach. “He always plays to take advantage and to be clever.”
3. Ayew sums up Villa’s miserable afternoon
Ayew allowed Walker to run past him far too often on Villa’s right side and made just one tackle
Former Marseille attacker Jordan Ayew has shown signs of being a good player at sporadic intervals this season, whether out wide or as a central striker. The 24-year-old hit 12 Ligue 1 goals last term in a struggling Lorient side, but hasn’t been given the opportunity to play consistently as a forward.
West Ham are thought to be keen on the Frenchman, although Slaven Bilic should play him centrally if a move materialises: Ayew allowed Walker to run past him far too often on Villa’s right side and made just one tackle. At the other end of the pitch he completed only five of his 13 attempted take-ons.
His frustration was illustrated with eight minutes remaining when he thought he’d broken clear of Spurs’ lines, only to be pulled back for offside. Under two minutes later he managed to wriggle clear of two defenders before seeing his effort saved by Hugo Lloris, as Gestede crashed the rebound against the crossbar.
4. Gil and Gestede prove impotent combination
The duo are very different and don’t appear to complement each other particularly well
With Gestede as Villa’s lone striker it was no surprise that the team opted for numerous crosses and looked to capitalise on the Beninese striker’s aerial prowess. The former Blackburn forward is an obvious targetman who looks to hold up the ball for his team-mates. Gestede’s link-up play was poor, though, and the crossing into his vicinity wasn’t much better.
“He has some different skills which we tried to utilise today,” said Garde, as he bemoaned his lack of available strikers. In Carles Gil they have a creative player who is capable of unlocking defences and dribbling past opponents in the final third. The Spaniard was forced to receive passes out wide and track Rose back into defensive areas, which he did well by completing three out of his four attempted tackles.
Gil and Gestede managed to produce Villa’s best chance of the first half, which came from a free-kick, but the duo are very different and don’t appear to complement each other particularly well.
5. Wimmer proves adequate understudy again
The partnership between Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen has been a huge reason behind Tottenham’s defensive security this season, with the Belgian duo forming a solid relationship in Pochettino’s back four. Their combined skill on the ball starts Spurs’ attacks from deep, while both are superb in marshalling opposition forwards.
Vertonghen has now been missing for several weeks, but Kevin Wimmer has been a quality replacement. The German misplaced just one pass from a possible 56 in this encounter, and also made three interceptions.
As Villa boss Garde noted: “It’s a deep squad and they have got players who can make the difference, which is very important when playing a high level of football.”
Wimmer’s performance was another demonstration that Pochettino’s squad has some depth to it, but the Argentine coach was particularly pleased with the attitude displayed against the bottom club in the division.
This is Tottenham’s best points total at this stage of a Premier League season, while Villa have now equalled their worst tally for league defeats in a single campaign, breaking last season’s record.