The fact that Spurs are one of three teams to have conceded the least amount of goals in the league this year, as well as being unbeaten 10 games in a row, is evidence enough that Mauricio Pochettino’s men are beginning to learn their lessons at the back. The defence were barely bothered by a limp visiting side, thus giving them the confidence to play the ball out of defence more often than not. In Belgian defensive duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, the north London side have two accomplished ball-playing defenders to carry out such duties. However, when Spurs let their foot of the gas in the latter stages of the game, the defence found themselves under siege by a resurgent Villa. After a largely comfortable run of fixtures, the defence will face their sternest test of the season yet in the north London derby this coming weekend.
That will be one of many questions new manager Remi Garde will be posing to himself in the wake of a match which saw his side exhibit little character, something which the side have struggled with throughout the season. After Villa put down a significant outlay on transfer incomings, most notably from Garde’s native France, the ex-Arsenal midfielder will now have to figure out how best to use his new men. Nearly £20m’s worth of players in Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gueye were left on the bench in favour of Carlos Sanchez and Ashley Westwood, while fellow Ligue 1 export Jordan Ayew, bought for £10m, has largely struggled since his move despite his goal on the night. It is in fact goals, or a lack thereof, that have plagued Villa for years now even with Christian Benteke in the side. A late fightback from his side will fill Garde with some hope, but he will know that he faces a monumental task to reverse the Villan’s fortunes.
In the absence of one-time stalwart Ryan Mason, the Marmite-figure of Moussa Dembele has shone in a Spurs side that is starting to find its groove. Two goals in two games means that the 28-year-old Belgian midfielder has reached a record high in the Premier League since switching from fellow London side Fulham, having only managed a goal in each of his previous seasons. While he grabbed his goal early, a well-taken one at that, Dembele shone in a midfield replete with talent. With Eric Dier and Delle Alli holding the central midfield slots in Pochettino’s 4-2-3-1 formation, Dembele has been given the licence to gallivant in his somewhat aloof manner up the field and dictate play. In Mason, Pochettino has a robust midfielder who is capable of making things happen but in the Belgian he has a player, if managed and deployed correctly, offers slightly more guile going forward, something which may mean that the Englishman may have to wait his turn to return to the fold.
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