These two teams will return from their winter break with very different aims for the rest of the season. Aston Villa will be fighting to remain in the Premier League, while Tottenham will be gunning for a top four finish. The hosts have had a strange season, as they have struggled in the league, yet managed to qualify for the Carabao Cup final. This is a fixture that they will be targeting for a positive result, as Spurs have been inconsistent under Jose Mourinho. For the visitors, they can’t afford any more slip-ups.
At the time of writing, Aston Villa are one point above the relegation zone, but they will understand the size of their task across the rest of the season. They have a lot of players that aren’t experienced at the top level and it will be interesting to see if they have the mental strength to survive come the end of the season. It remains to be seen how the Carabao Cup affects their league campaign, as it could galvanise them over the coming weeks, especially with players vying for a starting spot.
Tottenham are five points off Chelsea in 4th place and they have an opportunity to put the pressure on ahead of the Blues’ fixture on Monday night. Considering the dropped points since the managerial change, Spurs will be delighted that the Champions League remains in touching distance. The lack of consistency shown by any side of below the top three means that Spurs can be confident that they can still save their league season. However, they need to find consistency to do that and a win on Sunday could be the start to that.
Aston Villa have faced more shots than any other team in the Premier League. Opposing teams have attempted 441 shots against them.
Tottenham haven’t lost in their last eight league matches at Villa Park.
Jack Grealish has been the standout individual for Aston Villa over the last two seasons. His return to the team last season after injury coincided with a run that ultimately led to promotion. This season, he has continued to be the talisman for the side. The midfielder has contributed seven goals and five assists, which underlines his importance to the side’s survival hopes. There is another motivation for the 24-year-old, with the European Championships on the horizon. Although he hasn’t managed to break into Gareth Southgate’s squad, he is believed to be on the radar and it is looking likely that he will get a chance in the upcoming friendlies. If he continues to perform at his current level for the rest of the season, it will be very difficult to leave him out in the summer. This weekend gives him an opportunity to shine on the television against a Champions League side. It is geared up for him to play a big role and he will be the player that the visitors are worried about. Regardless of Villa’s fate, he will be playing at this level next season.
Steven Bergwijn made an immediate impact on debut, as he scored a wonderful goal to open the scoring against Manchester City. There is often scepticism about players arriving from the Eredivisie, with imports to the Premier League having varying levels of success. It is often important for these players to have a good start, to ease the pressure on them. The young Dutchman has managed that. The winter break would have been useful for the attacker, as he would have had an opportunity to get to know his teammates better and gain a deeper tactical understanding. It was a difficult first fixture for him, but Mourinho would have been pleased with his attitude. He was non-stop in his work rate, completing two ball recoveries. This is needed to succeed in a Mourinho side. In the Eredivisie this season,he contributed five goals and ten assists. The early indications are that he will add a goal threat to the Spurs’ side. This will be another opportunity for him to impress.
Danny Drinkwater is likely to be fit for the home side, while Ezri Konsa is expected to start despite a recent knock.
Erik Lamela faces a late fitness test ahead of the trip to Villa Park. Ben Davies could return to feature at left back. It is hoped that Giovani Lo Celso will be able to start.
Tottenham will benefit from the winter break with Jose Mourinho getting a sustained period to work with the players following his appointment. It was somewhat frustrating that they had to ensure an FA Cup replay, but they managed to triumph and they will come into this weekend with a lot of positivity. Aston Villa have been poor at the back at times and they will be worried about the attacking talents of the visitors. There should be goals this weekend, but the more likely winners are Spurs. They should have enough quality to take three points.