Tottenham Hotspur are bracing themselves for their final home game of the season as they take on Aston Villa on Wednesday.
Tottenham Hotspur’s campaign after the sacking of Jose Mourinho has gone surprisingly well so far. Barring the Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester City and a 3-1 humiliation at the hands of Leeds United, they have secured victories in the rest of the matches – allowing the Lilywhites to emerge as a contender for a top-six finish.
The north London giants are currently sixth in the league table with 59 points on the board – seven behind fourth-placed Leicester City, meaning a top-four finish is out of the question. But, Tottenham do have a a good chance of securing European football next season, although, they will need to be wary of West Ham United, Everton and Arsenal lurking behind.
And in Aston Villa, Tottenham face a stern opponent that has fared quite well against the Top Six this season. The Villans have endured a slight dip in form during the second half of the campaign and are currently 11th in the league table, trailing tenth-placed Arsenal by six points, meaning a top-half finish is extremely unlikely as things stand.
Tottenham may have the upper hand in this encounter, though, as they welcome their fans back to their stadium in this final home game of the season. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at how they might fare against Aston Villa in this crucial Premier League match-up this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Ryan Mason so far has preferred to stick with the core of his side rather than making changes week in week out. And it seems to have had a positive impact on their performance, especially in the defensive department, where the centre-back pairing of Toby Alderweireld and Eric Dier has been rock solid.
Elsewhere in defence, Tottenham are missing out on Ben Davies due to injury while Serge Aurier remains a doubt heading into this game. Hence, we might see Japhet Tanganga continue at right-back, operating a defensive role to aid the centre-backs while Sergio Reguilon, on the opposite flank, will be given more freedom to get forward.
In midfield, Mason should persist with the double-pivot of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Giovani Lo Celso, with the former being responsible for providing cover for the back-four. His ability to win back possession could also be key in the second of press, as it allows Lo Celso more freedom to push upfield.
In fact, we might even see Lo Celso joining the number ten in Dele Alli during attacking instances, transitioning into sort of a 4-1-4-1, with Harry Kane spearheading the Tottenham attack, although the Englishman has been a subject of major transfer speculation this week after reportedly admitting his desire to leave the club in the summer.
The creative unit, otherwise, should consist of Son Heung-Min and Alli while Gareth Bale is a doubt due to fitness reasons. As such, we expect Lucas Moura to get the nod ahead of the Welshman. Mason does have other options including Erik Lamela and Steven Bergwijn, but Lucas is likely to be favoured as the 29-year-old favours runners.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Tanganga, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Lo Celso, Hojbjerg; Lucas, Alli, Son; Kane
Much like Mason, Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is not really a fan of too many changes either. Unfortunately, he has had to deal with multiple absentees in recent matches, including Trezeguet, Matty Cash, and Tyrone Mings while Jack Grealish has not been fully fit over the week.
That said, Mings is back in contention and is even tipped to replace Kortney Hause, at the heart of the backline alongside Ezri Konsa. There should be no other defensive changes elsewhere, though, with Ahmed El Mohamady and Matt Targett occupying the full-back roles, hoping to prevent the Spurs runners from finding space in behind the defence.
In midfield, Smith is likely to persist with the combination of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz, but he could be tempted to give Ross Barkley an opportunity from the bench, as the Englishman’s loan contract expires soon.
Jack Grealish, meanwhile, is tipped for a return after making back to back appearances from the bench. The talented playmaker might occupy the number ten role, hoping to form the creative trifecta alongside Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi.
And finally, the Villans’ attack should be spearheaded by none other than Ollie Watkins. The former Brentford star is in desperate need of goals after finding the back of the net just three times in his last five league matches.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Martinez; El Mohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Luiz; Traore, Grealish, El Ghazi; Watkins
- Tottenham are looking to complete their seventh Premier League double over Aston Villa, something they’ve only done as many times in the competition against Everton and Manchester City.
- Aston Villa have lost 12 of their last 13 meetings with Tottenham in all competitions, winning the other in April 2015 under Tim Sherwood, who also coached Spurs for a time.
- Tottenham have won their final home league game in 10 of their last 12 seasons, with the exceptions being a 2-1 loss to Southampton in 2016 and a 2-2 draw with Everton in 2019.
- Aston Villa have won their final away league games in just one of the last 18 season, beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates in 2011.
- Tottenham have won 11 of their last 12 Premier League games played on Wednesdays, since a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City in January 2016.
Player to Watch
While the spotlight will certainly be on Harry Kane in what could potentially be his last home game for the club, Dele Alli could be the one worth keeping an eye on. The Englishman has impressed a lot in the last three matches, showing glimpses of what he is capable of. It has been a refreshing sight for Spurs fans, especially after a disappointing spell under the leadership of Jose Mourinho.
Although Alli still needs to improve in order to get back into the groove, a positive end to the campaign could go a long way in helping his save his Tottenham career.
As such, the playmaker is going to be a vital attacking outlet for the hosts, especially from a tactical perspective, as his ability to drift into spaces should tune in well alongside the likes of Lucas and Son. It will be a challenge for Aston Villa to keep up with these three in the final third.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Aston Villa
Aston Villa do not have the best of records against Tottenham Hotspur, but this has not been a regular season for the Villans. And with Mings and Grealish potentially returning to the starting eleven, we are expecting them to remain solid defensively and play with a nice shape that should make it difficult for the opposition to find goalscoring opportunities.
This game could well go down to the wire, especially if Grealish does start to work his magic. Tottenham, on the other hand, will be relying on their frontman to make the difference. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw in north London.