Spurs beat Villa to earn much-needed win
Matt Targett's own goal hands Tottenham their first Premier League victory since August 29
03 October, 2021 — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
SPURS 2 (Hojbjerg 27, Targett 71 og)
ASTON VILLA 1 (Watkins 67)
SPURS staved off a suffocating atmosphere of doom and gloom by recording a deserved 2-1 win over Aston Villa at home this afternoon (Sunday).
While the club has been plunged into yet another crisis in recent weeks after three league defeats in a row, today’s victory – courtesy of goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and an own goal from Matt Targett – is a good gauge as to how things can improve.
When Villa played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last term they inflicted a 2-1 defeat, which including an absurd Sergio Reguilon own goal, and put paid to hopes of the home side securing a barely deserved spot in the Europa League.
The grim feeling around the club was summed up at the end by the slow plod around the stadium by Harry Kane. On his lonesome, with tears in his eyes, Kane genuinely thought that was his last game in a Spurs shirt in front of the Tottenham fans.
So how many issues that were all too apparent on that pitiful night have been put right?
The squad that evening included Toby Alderweireld, Joe Hart, Serge Aurier, Gareth Bale and Erik Lamela – all now gone, and replaced by Pierluigi Gollini, Emerson Royal, Oliver Skipp, Cristian Romero and Bryan Gil.
While things have been far from perfect and Nuno Espirito Santo has a lot to do, these recruitments are looking more canny acquisitions after this victory.
And watching unused substitutes Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Davinson Sanchez warm down afterwards had a distinct yesterday’s men vibe about it in comparison to new hope offered by today’s first XI.
Villa started with a sense of freshness following their brilliant 1-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend.
Tottenham, on the other hand, looked scared to have the ball and were struggling to knit passes together.
Some early pressure saw Romero called on to tackle the aerial threat of Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins, and his mastery of the pair also brought out the best in Eric Dier.
Spurs began to settle after 15 minutes, and as Tanguy Ndombele started to search for the ball and Lucas Moura woke up, they took control.
The deserved opener came on 27 minutes, and it was a peach. Hojbjerg nicked the ball off Jacob Ramsey and played a through ball for Heung-Min Son to chase. The forward held things up so the cavalry could arrive, and the on-coming Kane, Moura and Ndombele took the Villa defence with them.
It left the slowly advancing Hojbjerg with plenty of space on the edge of the box and the Dane, not known for his goals, steadied himself and with deadly precision passed the ball into the far corner, leaving the sprawling Emiliano Martinez snatching at thin air.
It was a cool finish and a mood lifter, one that felt vital for Nuno’s immediate prospects.
Spurs came out well in the second half – Son went close three times in quick succession, but more importantly the team looked more fluent than they have been all season.
Villa tried to find chinks in the Spurs defence but their approach lacked the composure to get past a resolute back four.
That was until the 67th minute, when Hojbjerg was robbed of the ball and Spurs couldn’t get back in enough numbers to stop Watkins tapping home at the near post.
Nuno needed a reaction. And he got one four minutes later.
Villa had committed players forward as the ball broke for Tottenham. Son was sent steaming down the left flank by a cute Reguilon pass and his pace took him into the box, drawing defenders to him. Son then slid a low pass across goal, where Targett stabbed the ball home under pressure from Moura.
This was the start of a second half master class from Son, and as Villa began to run out of ideas, he took control. With boundless energy, Son played across the pitch as he defended from the front.
And more Tottenham chances came and went: Kane almost made it three when he got in with just the goalkeeper to beat, but Martinez did well to stand up and get a foot to the effort.
Moments later, Martinez was beaten by a Giovani Lo Celso shot after Kane had fooled the entire stadium with a back heel to get the substitute in – but Lo Celso’s goal-bound effort was hacked off the line by the recovering Tyrone Mings.
Speaking after the game, Nuno said: “It was a good reaction – much better – we saw strong performances right across the team.”
And Son, whose impact was the deciding factor, added the performance was what everyone at Spurs needed after the gloom of three straight league defeats.
The forward added: “The fans deserved this feeling. It’s been a tough September. We want the fans to feel our passion and know we care and we are giving our best. It has been important we stick together through the tough times, and we did.”
Spurs deserved this win, and while it wasn’t perfect, it was light years away from the awful last three run outs. It is a victory that buys Nuno some valuable time.
Spurs: Lloris, Emerson, Romero, Dier, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Skipp, Moura (Gil, 89), Ndombele (Lo Celso, 76), Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Gollini, Doherty, Sanchez, Winks, Rodon, Alli, Scarlett
Aston Villa: Martinez, Konsa, Hause (Traore, 80), Mings, Cash, Targett, Luiz, McGinn, Watkins, Ings (Archer, 89), Ramsey (Buendia, 68)
Substitutes not used: Steer, Tuanzebe, Young, Nakamba, El Ghazi, Philogene-Bidace