“Doing a Villa!” Aston Villa 0-4 Tottenham

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

As a lifelong Villa fan, it is not particularly rare to feel a sense of embarrassment following a heavy defeat. It just hurts a lot more now that we have a team and manager that provides us fans with so much hope.

So where does this 4-0 defeat to Spurs leave us going into the final third of the season? 

With a league run-in that includes Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea it is looking like it will be very tough to maintain our place in the top 4. The red card to our captain certainly doesn’t help and filling the void in an already depleted midfield will also be very difficult. Despite the fact that many will say it didn’t warrant a red, it was a reckless and thoughtless challenge that now leaves us with a big hole to fill for the next three games.

Chris Kavanagh, John McGinn - Soccer Player
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Visionhaus/GettyImages

At the beginning of the season Villa thrived on the European schedule and playing two games in a week seemed to carry huge momentum and sense of belief for the team. However, 4-5 months on and a number of injuries and a small, tiring squad it doesn’t look like the team will be able to cope to maintain our position in the league as well as go deep into the Europa Conference League.

Tired legs were obvious from the start and while Villa managed to limit Spurs to very little in the first half it seemed inevitable that they would get the breakthrough (mainly based on the fact that Villa are Villa…). Villa’s record of conceding goals in the first 15 minutes after half time this season is the worst in the league (almost 40% of goals conceded this season during that period) and once Spurs got the first there was a sense that it would spark a downfall. 

We all love the work that Unai Emery has done over the last two seasons and the monumental improvements he has brought to the club, but you could argue that the tactics today ultimately lead to the defeat. Villa were very defensive from the off with a back five and this is not how Villa have been setting up this season and certainly not how we set up when brushing aside City and Arsenal.

The fast, high paced start is what has gotten Villa Park rocking this season and the fact this wasn’t the case today meant the atmosphere was fairly flat. The start of the second half saw Villa push further up the pitch in terms of the press and this ultimately played into Spurs’ hands as they beat the high line against tired bodies, something they have done well all season (minus the reverse fixture, of course).

James Maddison
Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

A result like this really does spark the question: If you could only have one would it be to win the Conference League or qualify for the Champions League? Of course we all would love to have both, but surely this small squad cannot continue to compete in both at previously high levels shown by Emery's team. Ajax will again be a tricky test on Thursday, especially now that our previously such impressive home form has taken a nosedive since the Christmas period. 

What you can say about this Villa team however is that you cannot write them off. It has been the case before that one positive result can spark real confidence and a run of results and I’m sure Unai Emery can inspire this squad to achieve that again before the season draws to a close.

Here’s to a week of progress in Europe and three points in the League!