Tottenham Focus - Townsend and Sandro lead Spurs to victory
Tottenham came away from a rain sodden Aston Villa with three points after claiming a 2-0 victory with goals from Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado.
Spurs made several changes from the West Ham match. Roberto Soldado was restored up front, Jan Vertonghen moved to left-back with Vlad Chiriches coming in to the centre and Sandro returned in centre midfield in place of Mousa Dembélé. Perhaps surprising was Lewis Holtby’s inclusion in the No. 10 role behind Soldado, at the expense of Christian Eriksen.
The match was not always pretty; the first-half in particular seemed more about attrition than football. Like the previous claret and blue team Spurs played, Aston Villa were set up to frustrate and deny space whilst relying on the occasional counter-attack to pose any threat. The onus was on Spurs to carry the game to Villa but with the home team’s pressing, harrying and squeezing of the space, Tottenham were unable to find any fluidity or tempo to their match, despite having the majority of possession.
Spurs however did break the deadlock in the 31st minute when Townsend crossed the ball into the box and with Brad Guzan distracted by both Soldado and Holtby’s darting runs across the area, the ball ended in the net.
Villa were unable to keep up the levels of pressing in the second-half and Spurs grew stronger and found more space. Holtby and Soldado started to find each other with decent link up play and Paulinho became far more of an influence. The trio combined for the second goal in the 69th minute. Soldado’s challenge led to Holtby breaking to the left of the penalty area before cutting the ball back to Paulinho, who with a perfectly weighted first time pass set up Soldado to score.
The goal should have been particularly pleasing for the Spaniard being his first from open play. Soldado and Paulinho were combining well and throughout Soldado showed how his game brings so much more to Spurs through link up play and movement.
Whilst Soldado and Paulinho impressed and grew in influence, it was two players on Spurs’ books at the start of the summer who arguably made the difference. The return of Sandro was instrumental in making Spurs look more solid. Tackling, pressuring and tidying up in front of the back four, he gave Tottenham a platform to uild and Paulinho freedom to concentrate on getting forward to support the attack. After his injury Spurs missed Sandro in the second half of last season and the beginning of this. It may be difficult to envisage Sandro not retaining his spot in the starting XI.
However it was Townsend who was Spurs’ main threat throughout. The young Englishman was a constant thorn in the Villa side, especially Antonio Luna’s. His ability to go outside or inside the full-back caused constant problems and his dribbling led to several chances created either directly or indirectly. It’s been an excellent start to the season for Townsend - Spurs fans will hope he continues in this rich vein of form.
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