Spurs 2 Aston Villa 0: Caulker and Lennon help AVB's men leapfrog rivals Arsenal
20:42 GMT, 7 October 2012
After last Saturday’s victory at Old Trafford, Andre Villas-Boas promised something special.
While this victory fell far short of that lofty guarantee, it was nevertheless just as satisfying for the Portuguese — in an altogether different context, of course.
Instead of the glamour of beating the glitterati, it was back to Barclays Premier League action of a more muck-and-nettles nature after a midweek trip to Greece.
And Tottenham’s head coach avoided being stung — even though his big decision to omit goalkeeper Brad Friedel paid off by default in the second half.
Up and away: Kyle Walker and Jermain Defoe mob match-winner Arron Lennon after his strike made it 2-0 against Aston Villa
TOTTENHAM: Lloris, Vertonghen, Gallas, Walker, Caulker, Dempsey (Sigurdsson, 82), Lennon (Townsend, 86), Bale, Sandro, Defoe (Adebayor, 68), Dembele.
Subs not used: Friedel, Dawson, Huddlestone, Falque.
Goals: Caulker 58, Lennon 67.
ASTON VILLA: Guzan, Vlaar, Clark, Bennett, Lowton, El Ahmadi, Albrighton (Bent, 66), Delph (N'Zogbia, 66), Agbonlahor, Holman (Bannan, 73), Benteke
Subs not used: Given, Lichaj, Westwood, Weimann.
Booked: El Ahmadi, Bennett, Delph.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Attendance: 35, 802.
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A Jermain Defoe strike that deflected
off Steven Caulker’s ankle just before the hour was followed by a
cross-shot from Aaron Lennon nine minutes later as Paul Lambert was left
to rue his own selection gamble.
The Villa manager sidelined England
striker Darren Bent for the second week running and had cause to bemoan a
missed effort from Christian Benteke that could have turned the
afternoon on its head.
As it is, the furore that followed Tottenham’s opening-day defeat at Newcastle appears to have been premature.
That remains Spurs’ only loss this
season. It has been followed by the ending of an unwanted 23-year record
in Manchester. The club now lie one point off second place but are
nursing a raft of injuries.
Problems Some problems.
Granted, it took two moments of
defensive fragility by Villa for Spurs to win these points, but on the
back of tough trips to the north-west and Athens, there was no doubt
they were deserved.
Eye for goal: Aaron Lennon scores Tottenham's second goal
Villas-Boas said: ‘It was extremely
good. After all the effort in Greece, we were back on Friday at 4am. It
was a tiring flight and the players responded with tremendous power.’
Of equal note, though, was Friedel’s 310-game run coming to an end when Hugo Lloris made his Premier League debut.
There cannot be many players who have
been dropped after winning at Old Trafford but Villas-Boas added:
‘After Panathinaikos we decided this would be logical for Hugo to get
acquainted with the Premier League.
‘He can’t only play Europa League and
the fact he now breaks up for France will give him a continuous run of
four matches. The change was not based on Brad’s performance. He has
been immense for this team, we respect that.’
New man: Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris gestures at White Hart Lane
Diving save: Lloris prevents Gabriel Agbonlahor from having a shot on goal
Nasty: An injury suffered by Villa's Joe Bennett
Asked whether Lloris was now the club’s No 1, Spurs’ coach added: ‘No, no, no. In the future we will have to decide.’
Defoe spent the first half shooting
on sight, without setting those sights properly. But Spurs began the
second half slowly and when Lloris misjudged a quick throw to Gareth
Bale, Brett Holman intervened, fed Marc Albrighton and the winger swung
over a cross that was an open invitation for Benteke.
The 8m striker made a good
connection but it flashed inches wide. Lloris — and Villas-Boas — were
spared considerable embarrassment.
Moments later, Bale’s deep corner was
controlled at the far post by Defoe. True to form, his six-yard shot
was going wide until it struck Caulker.
Lennon wrapped up matters when he
shuffled outside Joe Bennett, who really should have known which way the
winger was trying to go, and his cross-shot found the bottom corner.
There was no way back for Villa after that.
Nice one, son: Steven Caulker celebrates with Jermain Defoe after scoring Tottenham's first goal
Battle: Tottenham's Kyle Walker is closed down by Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi
Despite the goodwill that greeted
Lambert’s appointment, this is now Villa’s worst top-flight start to a
season since they were relegated in 1987.
The Scot was right in saying Benteke’s wasted chance was the turning point but said he left out Bent for tactical reasons.
Touch tackling: Moussa Dembele clashes with Aston Villa's Fabian Delph
‘I’ve spoken to Darren,’ said
Lambert. ‘We have not had a cross word. Darren thrives running on to
things going in behind. That was the only reason why we have done it.
You know Spurs’ full backs are going to bomb on at every given
opportunity to give them width. That’s why we used Gabby out wide.
‘Darren is better with someone up
beside him. If you are playing with one up, Christian gives you a
different option because he can get hold of it. Darren will play games.
We will need everyone but I can understand his frustration.’
Pure effort: Fabian Delph and Tottenham's Raniere Sandro battle for the ball
As for Villas-Boas, it is Chelsea
next at White Hart Lane. The Spurs boss didn’t need to explain the
significance of that game, but he had a go anyway.
‘They are a tremendous attacking
force,’ he said. ‘They are surprising everybody. They are dynamic
players, a very youthful side. It’s going to be difficult but we are
showing a good level of competence.
‘We hope to profit from the fact that
we are playing at home against the unbeaten league leaders. When this
stadium rocks, it rocks properly. It’s a very closed environment.
‘We have to raise our intensity. That’s our motivation.’
Yes, Andre, sure it is.
Deadly Doug: Former Villa chairman Ellis in the stands at Newcastle
Fully focused: Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas on the home bench