Tottenham host Aston Villa in a crunch fixture that could provide some respite or create further problems for Nuno Espirito Santo’s future.

Tottenham might have come good in midweek after a prolific display against European minnows NS Mura, but they cannot hide their terrible form in the Premier League. Three consecutive losses to London sides, namely Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal, have put tremendous pressure on Nuno Espirito Santo.

Those defeats saw Spurs concede three goals in each of those games, and questions have been raised over their summer recruitment, as the defensive signings have failed to improve the side. Moreover, the attacking side of things has been equally awful, with the north Londoners scoring just four goals in six league games this season.

Their midweek win gives them much needed momentum before the Villa contest, but Spurs have to respond to Nuno’s ideas better to have any chance of easing the pressure. The fans themselves, disgruntled and angry, deserve a quality performance from the team, as they look to get out of their recent slump and start putting good results together.

Aston Villa come to north London with renewed optimism after a dramatic late victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The game had its share of highlights right from Kortney Hause’s 88th-minute winner and a late penalty miss from the otherwise reliable Bruno Fernandes.

After a mixed start to the season, Aston Villa have stitched together some decent results to help their cause and hold a strong position on the table. Dean Smith’s side have responded properly to their heavy defeat to Chelsea with a convincing victory over Everton and then narrowly against Manchester United.

A good result in north London will push Villa into the reckoning of the top-six at least, and they could go into the international break with confidence. Smith will be eager to take advantage of their opponent’s poor form and pile more pressure on his adversary Nuno Espirito Santo.

Team News & Tactics

Tottenham

Tottenham have no fresh injury concerns from their midweek clash against NS Mura. Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Sessegnon are the only absentees. Ben Davies, who was expected to feature on Thursday, suffered a late appendix problem, making him doubtful for the Villa clash.

Even if the left-back is fit, he may not feature in the starting lineup. Nuno will likely tinker with his defence and midfield for Sunday’s game after an ineffective few performances from both sections in the last league outing. After Cristian Romero and Joe Rodon’s decent partnership in midweek, the Argentine might continue ahead of the out-of-sorts Davinson Sanchez.

Nuno might recall Eric Dier in the lineup to provide some experience in the backline. The midfield is where the Portuguese will be eager to make the right changes after Arsenal completely overpowered his setup. There might be a change in style, as we could now see a double midfield pivot of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp.

The Tottenham boss could use a No.10 in Giovani Lo Celso and drop Dele Alli to the bench. Furthermore, he will stick to his regular front three of midweek hat-trick hero Harry Kane, Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura, as all three of them were lethal after coming off the bench against Mura.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Royal, Romero, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Skipp; Moura, Lo Celso, Son; Kane

Aston Villa

Dean Smith will have to make do without a few players for this trip to north London. Trezeguet, Keinan Davis, Morgan Sanson and Leon Bailey remain absent due to injuries. Smith has experimented by playing a midfield trio and a back three in the last games, and the results have been encouraging.

We could certainly see a similar setup against Spurs, and it seems more pragmatic to contain the threat of the home side’s front three. Axel Tuanzebe, who was ineligible to face parent club Manchester United last weekend, is available again. Still, Smith is unlikely to replace Kortney Hause, who got the winner at Old Trafford. The matchwinner will play centrally in the back-three with Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings on either side of him.

Similarly, a triple threat has borne results recently in midfield, and Smith will look to keep shape there. The impressive Jacob Ramsey will certainly play in midfield. Smith could keep him on the left side of Douglas Luiz, who will slot in at the base of the midfield. On the other side, John McGinn will take his regular starting spot.

Matty Cash and Matt Target will provide the width from the wing-back positions, while Smith will continue to play his two strikers together in Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins upfront.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Martinez; Konsa, Hause, Mings; Cash, McGinn, Luiz, Ramsey, Targett; Ings, Watkins

Key Stats

  • Spurs have conceded at least three goals in their last three league games, scoring just one during that period.
  • Tottenham have lost the previous three games, all against London sides.
  • Harry Kane is yet to open his goalscoring account in the Premier League this season.
  • Aston Villa recorded wins in their last two Premier League games, keeping a clean sheet on both occasions.
  • Aston Villa have only one victory in their last 11 games against Tottenham.

Player to Watch

Harry Kane

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Three goals against NS Mura might not cut it for Kane as he still awaits his first strike in this Premier League season. After a summer of uncertainty and having his head turned by Manchester City’s interest, it seems that Kane remains distracted and is underperforming for Spurs.

However, those midweek goals and last weekend’s thumping loss to Arsenal might be motivation enough for the striker to get his bearings together. Tottenham need goals from the striker to progress, and when he underperforms, seemingly the entire team does. The England captain has the chance to get back on song, but Villa’s defence will certainly pose problems.

Prediction

Tottenham 1-1 Aston Villa

Tottenham are desperate for a positive result, while Villa are eager to keep their good run going. Dean Smith might sense this could be the best possible time to play Spurs and get a result. Meanwhile, Nuno Espirito Santo’s job could be on the line if they endure another difficult afternoon against the Midlands side.

As things stand, both teams will look to score and attack the ball. There are indications of a pulsating draw as Spurs will look to get forward, while Villa will rely on their pragmatic approach and hit the home side on the counter. Expect both teams to share the spoils in north London to keep the pressure on Nuno.

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