After a dull first half between the two sides, Tottenham went into the break 1-0 to the good after a fortunate Andros Townsend cross ended up in the back of Brad Guzan’s net. The young English star played a prominent role in the second half however, as AVB slightly altered his side’s tactics at the break in order to isolate Andros Townsend in more 1vs1 battles with Villa left back Luna. The youngster has completed more dribbles this season than any other player in the Premier League (33) and Luna was run ragged as Townsend grew more and more relentless.
Here was a common occurrence in the first half. Kyle Walker’s supporting runs and Soldado’s tendency to drift out-wide allowed the Villa midfield to clog the operating room of Townsend whilst keeping tabs on both Walker and Soldado at the same time. This played greatly into Villa’s hands for multiple reasons:
A) They stop the pace and dribbling ability of Townsend.
B) Villa are side built upon getting the ball out wide within the first 8 seconds of the attacking transition to attempt dribbles and early cross attempts.
So essentially their midfield trio of Westwood, Delph and El-Ahmadi can mostly sacrifice their attacking intent, instead staying compact to be bypassed by the ball on its way to either Weimann or Agbonlahor.
Very simply, to isolate Aston Villa’s 3 departments (defence, midfield and attack) AVB instructed his players to stop their supporting runs earlier up the pitch in an attempt to force Paul Lambert’s hand. Villa’s deep defensive block was exposed to the possibility of 1vs1 isolations, particularly out-wide and Townsend took advantage. The England International attempted a total of 10 dribbles in the game, completing 50% (5), terrorising Luna who just could not keep up with the speedster. As a result, quite inevitably, Tottenham’s attacking transitions quickened in pace with far fewer passes being played per transition in favour of an Andros Townsend aggressive take on dribble.
A slick move in the 68th minute saw Roberto Soldado score his first Premier League goal from open play after a lovely first time assist from Paulinho. Tottenham’s attacking play really picked up in the second half and they created 2 of their 3 clear cut chances in this period. Tottenham grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck by this point, popping the ball about freely and quickly getting the ball into wide areas. Paulinho linked the play up well in the middle of the park, and after Dembele’s introduction on the 73rd minute Tottenham Hotspur shifted to a 4-3-3 shape to allow Sandro to help out with the huge threat that is Christian Benteke.
As a result of Sandro playing slightly deeper, the Brazilian International attempted 8 aerial duels, the second most of any Tottenham player and battled away valiantly as Tottenham Hotspur recorded their 5th clean sheet of the league season (joint league high with Southampton.)
AVB’s men saw out a comfortable away victory in Villa Park in which rising young star Andros Townsend grabbed all the plaudits for a scintillating second half performance full of relentless dribble attempts. Slightly under the radar however Sandro put in a beastly display in the middle of the park in his first start since returning from a serious knee injury which will undoubtedly please his manager, who claimed:
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Andre Villas-Boas” quotestyle=”style02″]Great, great performance, the time that he got injured last season, he was the best ball recoverer of the Premier League and I think we saw his power today. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]