6 Things We Learned from Aston Villa vs. Tottenham
The Wales international hit a second-half hat-trick after Jermaine Defoe had opened the scoring for Andre Villas-Boas’ team.
Aston Villa failed to bounce back from the eight-goal mauling at Chelsea on Sunday and have now conceded 12 goals in two league games.
Villa boss Paul Lambert is facing a severe test of his managerial skills as he attempts to lift his team out of the malaise they find themselves in.
But what else did the Boxing Day clash teach us?
A Goalkeeper Is Not Always Necessary
Obviously, we are being facetious here, but Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris did not feature at all for 24 minutes.
The £8 million France international was not seen in the game until he passed away a backpass.
Lloris, who celebrated his 26th birthday in relative isolation at Villa Park, could have opened both Christmas and birthday presents while his teammates spent the first period camped in the Villa half of the field.
In the closing moments of the first period, William Gallas even decided to put the ball out rather than pass back to Lloris, possibly through fear that the keeper might have been asleep.
A superb save from Christian Benteke in the 56th minute ensured Lloris’ comfortable evening was at an end.
But the goalkeeper was untroubled after that stop.
Gareth Bale Could Become a Full-Time Striker
Gareth Bale has become a Tottenham legend in recent years with his pace down the left flank baffling some of the greatest defenders in European football.
The Wales international has also weighed in with his fair share of goals, claiming 27 from 127 appearances before the trip to Villa Park.
It is a switch which has worked for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has moved to a more central position as he became more experienced and his pace was not such a threat against younger wide players.
Moving into a central role would help Bale in the future. His build, pace, experience and aerial ability make him an ideal candidate for a centre-forward role one day.
It is still too early for the Welshman to make that switch, but it is one which should remain high in the mind of Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, who is never slow to experiment when he feels it necessary.
But when you have a speedy winger who scores hat-tricks, would you want to?
Brad Guzan Is Aston Villa’s Number One Goalkeeper
Brad Guzan retained his place in the Aston Villa starting lineup despite conceding eight goals at Chelsea on Sunday.
The United States international has been preferred over the experienced Shay Given by Villa manager since playing in the Capital One Cup win over Tranmere Rovers in August.
Before the drubbing at Stamford Bridge, the 28-year-old had conceded just twice in five matches and he proved to be the difference in the first half against Tottenham.
Guzan twice denied Gareth Bale and produced a fine save from a Jermain Defoe effort to keep the scoreline level at halftime.
Protected, arguably, by a back eight against Tottenham, Guzan still needed to be on his guard and, although he hesitated for Spurs’ second goal, he is still vital for Villa.
Aston Villa Manager Paul Lambert Is Facing a Daunting Winter
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has learned from his own previous managers such as Martin O’Neill.
But will that make a difference as he attempts to find a way out of the malaise at Villa Park?
After a first 45 minutes which included a corner count of 15-1 in Tottenham’s favour, the home side emerged with a different attitude. Gone was the hesitancy which appeared to follow on from Sunday’s mauling at Chelsea.
Instead, the introduction of Marc Albrighton helped to provide a new impetus to Villa’s play.
If Christian Benteke had not crept into an offside position when he collected Stephen Ireland’s ball early in the second half, the outcome of the game could have been different despite the domination Tottenham enjoyed in the opening 45 minutes.
Unfortunately for Villa, they came up against a Tottenham side who were more than capable of raising their own game.
However, a figure of 12 goals conceded in their last two Premier League outings will do little to instil confidence in Lambert’s team.
Lambert must now eke out every ounce of man-management skills he has to prevent the current problems escalating.
Christian Benteke’s Threat Is Weakened When Starved of Service
Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke has been one of the finds of the season.
The Belgium international was pivotal in the recent 3-1 win at Liverpool and remains the major threat in Paul Lambert’s team. The 22-year-old, who joined Villa from Genk in the summer, has been the totemic character for the team this season, scoring five times in 16 appearances.
But Benteke found himself ploughing a lone furrow in the first period against Spurs and only began to spark when Stephen Ireland and himself began to connect with more freedom.
Now he will have to rediscover his own spark if he is to lead Villa out of the problems they face.
Tottenham Are One of the Most Entertaining Teams in the Premier League
Tottenham might have struggled to break down the Aston Villa defence as they dominated the first period, but once the North London side slip into gear, there is little to rival them in entertainment.
In Gareth Bale, the White Hart Lane club possess one of the supreme talents in European football, if not the world.
But coupled with a run of five wins from their last seven matches, Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas is developing something special at the club.
His "project" at Chelsea fell foul of player power and a trigger-happy chairman, but the Portuguese is beginning to prove himself with Spurs. Players are actually enjoying playing for Spurs which is a continuation of what worked so well under Harry Redknapp.
But with the ball, Tottenham were exceptional at Villa, in defence, midfield and attack.