It was a game of two halves at White Hart Lane as Tottenham hosted Aston Villa in the early kick-off on Sunday.
Much was made about Tottenham’s injuries and suspensions in the build-up to the game with some sections of the media saying it could be a walkover but Ange Postecoglou is building something special in North London and all his squad are on board. It was never going to be an easy game.
Both sides play a high line so there was always going to be room to get in behind, as long as the attackers could beat the high line…
Report: Tottenham 1-2 Aston Villa
Emery made just one change to the side to the side that beat Fulham before the international break as Diego Carlos replaced Youri Tielemans who dropped to the bench.
The home side was quick out of the blocks and could have scored within the opening minutes when Rodrigo Bentancur picked out Destiny Udogie but the Italian fired over the bar.
Moments later Dejan Kulusevski came close but his effort rebounded off the woodwork and then Pau Torres had a chance to put the visitors in the lead but his headed effort went wide of the goal.
Spurs were piling on the pressure as Villa struggled to get into the game and they broke the deadlock after 22 minutes. The ball fell to Giovani Lo Celso on the edge of the box and he hit the ball on the half volley, deflected off Ezri Konsa and into the net.
Despite the domination from the home side, Villa were level moments before half-time when Douglas Luiz swung in a peach of a free-kick and Torres was able to head the ball home to make it 1-1.
Emery opted to make changes at half-time as Matty Cash and Moussa Diaby were replaced by Leon Bailey and Tielemans.
Substitute Bailey almost made an immediate impact but Spurs keeper Guglielmo Vicario pushed the Jamaican’s effort onto the woodwork.
Vicario could do nothing moments later when Villa took the lead through Ollie Watkins to score his 12th goal of the season in all competitions.
The home side tried to find the form they hit in the opening 45 minutes but struggled to make any real impact as Villa’s highlight caught them offside on numerous occasions.
When Spurs eventually created chances through Brennan Johnson and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Villa were thankful for their goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez who was equal to their efforts.
The win sees Villa leapfrog Tottenham into fourth in the Premier League and two points behind leaders Arsenal, who Villa will host at Villa Park next month.
What the managers said
Unai Emery: “Tough match. We knew we needed to be defensively strong. Amazing match, amazing result.
“We are excited about how we can improve and can get a good position in the table, and today winning here is another step.
“There’s still a lot of matches to play and it’s about being consistent in our way.
“We have to try to believe in this position (top four), to keep trying to be humble and be very demanding.
“If we are being consistent like we are, we can be there.”
Ange Postecoglou: “Tough outcome but I couldn’t be happier with the way the boys played. I’m really proud of them,
“I thought we played some fantastic football and on another day we’d have probably won the game comfortably.
“I can’t fault the effort, the intent and everything they put into the game.
“There’s no frustration. We played well and as a manager that’s all you can ask for.
Aston Villa will welcome Legia Warszawa to Villa Park on Thursday evening in the Uefa Conference League followed by a trip to the south coast to play Bournemouth next Sunday.
Tottenham will travel to champions Manchester City next Sunday