Villa frustrate Tottenham after Liverpool win
Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Aston Villa
Liverpool’s victory in the day’s early kick-off at Anfield heaped the pressure on Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa in the much-anticipated evening spectacle. It was a clash between two of the prospective clubs looking to put the boot into Rafael Benitez’s inconsistent side.
Frustratingly for Harry Redknapp and Martin O’Neill however, the top four is increasingly edging back towards normality.
For both clubs three points was simply a must.
The midweek endeavours at Elland Road didn’t appear to have an impact on a lively Spurs side with the home team having the best of the early chances: Modric scuffed an attempt into the arms of Brad Friedel and shortly after Bentley flashed a shot across goal.
The game opened up as both sides floated up and down the pitch probing for any half chances. Modric worked as a freelance midfielder as he roamed across the centre of the park spraying balls left and right.
The efforts of Richard Dunne and James Collins in the heart of Villa’s defence ensured the scores remained level. The imposing Irish centre back made some timely blocks and crucial challenges when a Spurs player seemed perfectly poised to send the ball rustling into the net.
Villa appeared content to defend, looking to exploit the home side on the break with the pace of Gabriel Agbonlahor. A smart double save from Gomez prevented the young England striker snatching another away goal in London.
However it was Brad Friedel who made the save of the first half. A cross by Bentley was flicked on by Peter Crouch with Ledley King acrobatically directing the ball towards the goal. But the American goalkeeper managed to claw it wide. Jermain Defoe reacted sharpest to the loose ball but ballooned his effort over the crossbar.
The second half continued in much the same vein. The well-marshalled Villa defence easily swept clear any long balls while Spurs enjoyed the lions share of possession.
Stewart Downing spurned a good opportunity from a set piece with his free kick flying harmlessly wide. Moments later Carew wasted a chance. He stole a yard on his marker at the near post but over complicated a potentially easily strike.
Meanwhile at the other end Spurs continued to search for a way past the organised away rearguard. When the engineered passes of Modric and Huddlestone failed to dislodge the Collins-Dunne pairing the home side resorted to pumping balls into the box.
Crouch was unable to deflect the high, diagonal balls into the path of his striker partner Defoe. It was the lanky forward who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the final ten minutes of the game which made for pulsating viewing.
Dunne superbly tackled Defoe but the ball was gathered by Crouch who unleashed a drive at Friedel’s goal. The shot was deflected and drifted just wide of the post.
His best effort came from a Bentley corner as the game trickled towards a stalemate. The cross was knocked into the path of the giant striker who delicately flicked the ball just wide of the post.
A determined Villa side clung on through the final minutes of injury time to take a battling point back to Birmingham. The result allowed Liverpool to re-assume their customary position in the top four.
Tottenham: Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, King, Bale; Bentley, Huddlestone, Palacios, Modric; Defoe, Crouch.
Subs: Alnwick, Kaboul, Jenas, Gudjohnsen, Bassong, Kranjcar, Kyle Walker.
Aston Villa: Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, Luke Young; Ashley Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing; Heskey, Agbonlahor.
Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Carew, Delfouneso, Davies, Delph, Beye.
Man of the Match: Richard Dunne – The defensive stalwart looked an insurmountable object for the entire 90 minutes and played a crucial role in ensuring a valuable point for Martin O’Neill.