Tottenham vs. Aston Villa: 6 Things We Learned

Tony MabertContributor IOctober 7, 2012

Tottenham vs. Aston Villa: 6 Things We Learned

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    Tottenham Hotspur's early season upward trajectory continued on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Aston Villa at White Hart Lane.

    What should have been Jermain Defoe's fifth Premier League goal of the season turned out to be Steven Caulker's first ever in the competition via a fortunate deflection to give Spurs the lead on 58 minutes. Aaron Lennon then doubled the Londoners' lead nine minutes later with a fine individual effort.

    The win lifts Spurs up to fifth in the table after seven rounds of fixtures, while Villa are fifth from bottom. 

    Here are six things to take away from the clash in North London.

1. Brad Friedel's Record Run Is over

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    The last time Brad Friedel had not started a Premier League match before the visit of Villa on Sunday—back in May 2004—Facebook had been online for just three months. 

    From then, the Ohio goalkeeper's stock rose alongside that of the social network as he went on to accrue 310 consecutive appearances in the English top flight during spells at Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa and latterly Tottenham.

    But the 41-year-old's time always looked to be running out as soon as Hugo Lloris was signed from Lyon on deadline day, despite his own impressive form and his head coach's backing.

    Lloris started against Villa to make his Premier League debut and finally end Friedel's run, but in truth, the France No.1 had little to do to justify his selection.

    Friedel will surely feature for Tottenham again before the end of the season—when it is anticipated he will announce his retirement—but on the day his hugely impressive run is ended it is well worth acknowledging his wonderful achievement.

2. Spurs May Not Always Win at Home, but They Always Score

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    Another impressive record this Tottenham team went into the Villa game in possession of was a run of 27 consecutive Premier League games in which they had scored at White Hart Lane. 

    Not since a 0-0 draw with bitter London rivals West Ham United in March 2011 had Spurs fans seen their team draw a blank in the league.

    That club-record sequence was extended courtesy of Caulker's deflected goal to open the scoring against Villa. 

    The run is testament to the brand of attacking football which Spurs cultivated under former manager Harry Redknapp, though it will be tested in the club's next home game—they host Chelsea after the international break.

3. Aaron Lennon Deserves His England Recall

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    Aaron Lennon's excellent start to the season sums up Tottenham's recent fortunes perfectly.

    The winger has been in blistering form as he and fellow winger Gareth Bale have been virtuosos in attack and have also made key defensive contributions.

    Lennon is perennially accused of being inconsistent with his crossing and shooting, but this term he has been decisive in both. He received a richly deserved England call-up for the first time since the 2010 World Cup in midweek, and celebrated with a typical zig-zagging run into the box from the right that resulted in his first goal since January.

    The 25-year-old may not be the most reliable performer over the course of a season, but he is still young enough to improve and be of great value to his club as well as his country.

4. Scott Parker Will Struggle to Get Back into the Team

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    When Tottenham signed Scott Parker from West Ham in summer of 2011, the midfielder was the reigning Football Writers' Association Player of the Year.

    Parker immediately became an indispensable part of the Spurs team, something which was reflected in his belatedly blossoming international career. Parker captained his country in February's friendly against Netherlands in only his 11th senior international appearance, and started all four of England's games at Euro 2012.

    However, he has paid since, after undergoing Achilles surgery in the summer. He is due to finally make his return after the international break, just after his 32nd birthday.

    When he does make his return, he may struggle to dislodge the newly formed partnership of Sandro and summer singing Moussa Dembele in the Spurs midfield. 

5. Darren Bent Had Another Miserable Time at Tottenham

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    The one lean patch in Darren Bent's otherwise exemplary career as a striker came during his two-year spell at Tottenham between 2007 and 2009.

    Perhaps weighed down by the £16.5 million fee which took him to White Hart Lane and Harry Redknapp's poor man-management (the former Spurs coach famously once said “my missus could have scored that" after Bent missed a simple chance against Portsmouth), Bent struggled in London.

    Subsequent moves to Sunderland and Villa have proved that Bent is one of those strikers who thrives when he plays week in, week out. In the four years between him leaving Spurs and the start of this season, the striker scored 50 goals in 96 Premier League appearances.

    But this season has seen new manager Paul Lambert drop Bent, perhaps in a bid to show him and the other strikers in the squad that no one's place in the side is safe. 

    Despite Bent coming off the bench and scoring a valuable equaliser in the previous game at home to West Brom, Lambert again named Bent among the substitutes. The striker was brought on midway through the second half, and he did not manage a single shot on goal.

    Hardly surprising, considering he only touched it four times.

6. You Can Only Play the Cards You Are Dealt

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    Tottenham head coach Andre Villas-Boas was hired in the summer to replace Harry Redknapp despite the club finishing in fourth place last season, a position which would usually secure a Champions League playoff place.

    Redknapp's behaviour away from the dugout played as a major part in the decision to not renew his contract, and so Villas-Boas inherited a squad full of talented players who were, by and large, getting results.

    By stark contrast, Paul Lambert took over at Villa with the Birmingham club at their lowest ebb for a long time.

    Under Alex McLeish's ill-fated season in charge last term, Villa not only just about scraped Premier League survival but they played some of the most turgid and uninspiring football seen in the English top flight for years.

    Lambert has made several signings since taking over as he seeks to rejuvenate the club, but with just one win and four defeats in the league so far this season, the Scotsman must have looked across the technical area at his Portuguese counterpart with a certain degree of envy.