Premier League Match Report: Brad Friedel dropped by Andre Villas-Boas as Tottenham beat Aston Villa to clinch fourth straight league victory

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Aston Villa 0

White Hart Lane

The moulding and refining of Andre Villas-Boas’s Tottenham Hotspur team continues.

Two points from three games has suddenly become four straight wins after Spurs beat Aston Villa yesterday. It was a patient, mature performance by the hosts who were unworried by a slow first half and able, eventually, to dismiss Villa with a burst of attacking football.

For the first time in the Premier League, Villas-Boas began with Hugo Lloris in goal. Since he was signed it was merely a matter of time as to when he would usurp Brad Friedel in the league and the Spurs manager decided that the seventh league game of the season was the right moment.

“We have been speaking about it between the staff for the week,” said Villas-Boas. “We decided it would be logical if we wanted to get Hugo acquainted with the Premier League-type of games.

“Obviously, the change was not based on performance, Brad has been immense for this football team, we surely respect that.” Friedel’s run of 310 consecutive league games is over, though, a victim of the relentless progressivism sweeping Tottenham.

Lloris showed the difference between him and Friedel by darting quickly from his line at times, but nearly cost Spurs a goal early in the second half.  His poor throw allowed Marc Albrighton to cross for Christian Benteke, but the Belgian headed carelessly wide.

Paul Lambert knew how much that miss cost. “We had a great chance to go 1-0 up,” the Villa manager said. “It was a big moment. But he’s only a young lad, he was in a position to do it, you saw his disappointment.”

It was a show of faith from Lambert picking Benteke ahead of Darren Bent. Lambert is desperate to instil hunger at a club where it has not existed for a while, and perhaps it should not be a surprise to see Bent on the bench along with other senior players such as Shay Given and Charles N’Zogbia.

Lambert insisted, though, that his decision was tactical. “That’s the system I played,” he said. “If you’re playing one up top, Christian gives you a different option because he can get hold of the ball. That was the only reason why we did it.”

The players Lambert did pick tried to prove him right. They certainly represented his values of hard work, rigour and ambition. Karim El Ahmadi, Fabian Delph and Brett Holman all worked hard to deny Spurs space while the defence was inspired by the brave, brisk and alert Ron Vlaar, who has replaced Bent as captain. Villa had successfully shut down the first half. The home crowd were silenced and Spurs were limited to shooting from distance.

Two weeks ago another slow first half left Spurs 1-0 down to Queen’s Park Rangers. That afternoon they tore into the second half, turning the game and earning an important win. It was the same yesterday. Spurs were much more assertive in the second period, allowing chances, including Benteke’s, before scoring the goals that won the game.

The pressure had been building before a lucky bounce put Spurs ahead. A corner, 12 minutes after the re-start, fell to Jermain Defoe, who spun and skewed a shot. It inadvertently hit Steven Caulker’s ankle and flew in.

The goal sped Spurs up further, Gareth Bale nearly scored before the second came from another quick break. Mousa Dembélé spread the ball to Aaron Lennon, who was isolated against Joe Bennett. Before the left-back could realise, Lennon whipped a low shot past him and Brad Guzan  into the bottom corner. The work was done, and Clint Dempsey’s and Bale’s chances were the only moments of a comfortable keep-ball session as Spurs rode on up the table.

Get Adobe Flash player
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee