Dave Woodhall watches Villa win at Spurs and keep on going.
We keep talking about Villa going under the radar, although at the moment it’s not so much under the radar as positively subterranean. No matter how well the team plays, or how important the result, the story is either the opposition, or it gets ignored completely.
Sunday afternoon was a case in point. The match was never going to be ignored, because it never is when Spurs are playing, but once again there was an almost total lack of credit given for the team who went to a tricky ground and won. Once again the story was about how Spurs are suffering from injuries like they’re the only team ever to have players out when once more Villa were missing four almost-definite starters. If I was one for conspiracy theories I’d say that someone, somewhere is trying to downplay our results because it doesn’t look good for Only Aston Villa to be muscling in on the big boys’ party.
But to get back to what we do know, Unai Emery changed the team round a bit, putting Ezri Konsa wider and Matty Cash further upfield, and there was the welcome sight of Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey on the bench. Villa had a couple of chances early in the game but Spurs were on top and probably deserved to go into the lead midway through the first half, even if the shot that led to their goal was deflected awkwardly. Villa then came back straight away and Ollie Watkins’ header should have given us the lead but his toenails are too long and he was judged to be offside. Still, no matter because despite being under pressure a well-placed Douglas Luiz free-kick deep into stoppage time was met even more perfectly by Pau Torres.
One-one at half-time and that was the cue for a bit of managerial wizardry from a managerial wizard. Cash and Moussa Diaby came off to be replaced by a genuine wide man in Leon Bailey and more midfield strength in the shape of Youri Tielemans. Bailey hit the post after making space with the sort of ball control he’s capable of then after an hour Watkins and Tielemans passed quickly through the Spurs defence and Watkins gave Villa the lead.
At one end Emiliano Martinez gave a reminder that he’s the best keeper in the world, at the other Watkins just couldn’t get high enough to fully control a cross from John McGinn in front of an open goal. Song always used to score against the Villa; today he got a hat-trick of sorts by having three goals ruled out. Jhon Duran came on to help keep the ball away from where we didn’t want it and there was a brief but nevertheless welcome return for Jacob Ramsey.
Villa’s win put us fourth with a third of the season gone while Spurs have now lost their last three. They’re unlucky while the media still continue to hawk our players to the highest supposed bidder and one day they might wake up to the fact that there’s a team here good enough to compete with the best. What happens when they finally realise it will be a mixed blessing – being unfancied suits us at the moment but a bit of attention is always good when it come to attracting new players and keeping the ones you’ve got happy. For the meantime, they might not want to say much about us but they still have to publish the league table and that’s making very pleasant reading.