Villa spurred on

Dave Woodhall on Villa’s welcome win at Spurs and a big day ahead.

Villa beating Spurs used to be a matter of routine; even at White Hart Lane four- and five-goal wins were nothing out of the ordinary. That the win on Saturday was regarded as such a surprise shows how much Villa have slipped in the past five years. Spurs are in the best of the rest position we used to think of as ours by right whereas Villa are still not sure whether they’ll finish the season best of the B postcodes. But that minor quibble aside, the weekend was as good as we could have hoped for.

Last season’s game was a routine last day of the season 3-0 win for Spurs against a backdrop of dissent aimed at Paul Lambert and hope that Randy Lerner would soon be selling up. Lambert’s gone, Lerner’s still here but the biggest difference was in the team’s performance. 1-0 might not sound totally convincing but once Villa went into the lead thanks to Christian Benteke’s eighth goal in six games they never looked in any real danger, despite losing Ciaran Clark after just eighteen minutes, then Gabby Agbonlahor with twenty to go.

If you’ve an hour or two and perhaps a spare internet to fill I’ll list Villa’s injuries, and even after the substitutions had been made there were still walking wounded hobbling around the pitch, giving the game an air of an old cup-tie from the days when players would have to have limbs amputated before they were taken off. They all did well, but on the principle of praise when due, criticism when necessary, well done to Kieran Richardson, who followed up a nightmare against QPR with a very tidy game on Saturday.

Not only was it a welcome win, making up for the disappointment of Tuesday night’s draw with QPR, but other results went Villa’s way and we’re now looking at a handy gap between us and the relegation places ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Liverpool.

The game shouldn’t be played at Wembley and it shouldn’t be on a Sunday afternoon, but we have to make the best of it and after years of misery a day out with a place in the cup final at stake is the least we deserve. Of course, the entire nation will be against us as we’re in the way of the Midfielder of All Our Hearts getting his birthday present, but we’ll just have to live with that.

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