Tottenham Hotspur's Away Form Could Be Crucial to Champions League Hopes
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Playing away seems to suit Tottenham Hotspur's counter-attacking style.
The 2-0 victory at Aston Villa was their third in four Premier League matches on the road this season, giving them one less win away versus at home at White Hart Lane; a record only bettered by Manchester United.
Sunday's win, and a comparison with their last home match, show why this trend could continue.
Being the home side, Villa felt inclined to attack much more than West Ham did at White Hart Lane two weeks previously, when the Hammers ran away 3-0 winners.
Paul Lambert's side did not initially look threatened as they allowed Tottenham possession in deep areas, with the Spurs players facing a difficult task to find Andros Townsend or Roberto Soldado in attacking areas.
But as the game went on, the onus was on Villa to press forward more and prevent their visitors from dominating possession.
This, of course, played into Tottenham's hands, as gaps started appearing in the home defence and Townsend found himself with more space to run into.
And once he had opened the scoring after 31 minutes, the game was even more suited to Spurs' style as Villa had to push for an equaliser.
Instead, Soldado scored in the 69th minute. Brimming with confidence and exploiting a tired Villa defence, Tottenham could easily have made it 3-0, the scoreline West Ham fans have been reminding the Spurs faithful of since October 6.
That day was a very different affair. But just as the Villa Park win had a familiar feel to it, following wins at Cardiff City and Crystal Palace as sides looked for a winner, so the West Ham match followed a pattern of previous White Hart Lane setbacks.
Last season there were home defeats against opposition the Spurs were expected to see off easily, including Wigan Athletic and Fulham, as well as draws with West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City and Norwich City.
These slip-ups proved costly as Spurs finished an agonising point behind Arsenal and missed out on a Champions League place, and they were reliant on late Gareth Bale goals to bring them many of their narrow home wins.
Dropped points which hindered hopes to qualify the Champions League was a feature of the Harry Redknapp era as well, and Manchester United's recent form at Old Trafford shows the Spurs are not the only Champions League hopefuls who can be vulnerable at home.
Working out how to break down teams who come to White Hart Lane into defence, avoiding frustrating the homes fans—and looking to grab a goal against the run of play—is perhaps Andre Villas-Boas' biggest challenge.
Daniel Storey outlined the nature of the problem in a piece on Football 365 after the West Ham match.
AVB must find a way for his side to become more efficient in breaking sides down. Fail to do so, and a top four place is anything but a certainty.
And fans can take confidence from the way he has mastered his tactics in away games.
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