Tottenham will be looking to put some pressure on Premier League leaders Leicester City by defeating hapless bottom club Aston Villa and reducing the gap between the sides to two points.
The hosts have the appearance of a team that just wants to put out of its misery, with nine points plus an inferior goal difference separating them from the safety line and recent performances showing little to suggest that they will even come close to making a fight of it during the closing weeks of the season. Although they managed to keep Manchester City out until half-time in their last match, Remi Garde’s men imploded in predictable fashion once they were finally breached, barely laying a glove on their opponents.
On current form this looks set to be another damage limitation exercise against a side challenging for the title, but it might just be time for Villa to adopt a siege mentality and play as if they have nothing to lose. While a risky ploy, going down such a path would seemingly allow midfielders Idrissa Gueye and Jordan Veretout to play with a degree of freedom, with the duo having been given a very rude awakening to life in the English top-flight since arriving last summer. The least Villa can do here is try and entertain their suffering supporters.
Having come from behind to lead, the failure to hold on for victory against the 10 men of bitter rivals Arsenal led some to question whether Tottenham have got in them to go all the way this term, but they are still very handily placed – albeit needing Leicester to drop points in the title race. What came under more scrutiny was manager Mauricio Pochettino’s team selection for the Europa League round of 16 first leg tie away to Borussia Dortmund, as several key players were rested for what turned into a comprehensive 3-0 defeat.
Any points dropped here would be massively costly, so it is up to Spurs to regain the composure that recently brought them six consecutive victories. They will certainly be well placed to do so if Harry Kane can maintain the kind of form he showed in the North London derby, where his direct mentality and delightfully precise finishing was a sight to behold. While last season the England striker scored plenty of goals through acting as a poacher, this time around he has showcased an impressive all-round ability, aided by the confidence of his teammates.
There are no new injury concerns for Villa, but they remain without injured quartet Jack Grealish, Adama Traore, Carlos Sanchez and Libor Kozak.
Danny Rose will be assessed by Tottenham, who are likely to restore the likes of Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier to their starting line-up.
Last Meeting: The sending off of Villa striker Christian Benteke for violent conduct on the hour mark swung the game in Tottenham’s favour in November 2014, as they came from behind to take the three points. Andreas Weimann slid the ball past Hugo Lloris to open the scoring for the hosts in the first half, but Nacer Chadli’s close range finish and a deflected free-kick from Harry Kane turned things around.
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